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Ask Dr. Karen - June 25

Dear Dr. Karen -

I work in Shanghai for a web-based sales organization for Chinese buyers and sellers of goods, services, living spaces to buy or rent and used cars.  My age  is 34  but I have been very successful as the leader in the sales and leasing of apartments.  A recent scandal unearthed demands for bribes with my colleagues in the auto sales area.  Until now, that had been the most lucrative of the online operations of my North American company.  My area has been the second most money making.

My boss has asked me to lead both the apartment and car sales parts of the business.  The leader of the auto part of the business has always been friendly to me but he is much older than me.  In the Chinese culture you need to be respectful to your elders.  In the beginning of my work for this company this colleague was supportive.  I am really worried about being his boss. What do you suggest?  This is an unusual situation for me.

My biggest pressure is that my boss doesn’t want my colleague to leave. It is hard to hire good people in the local market.  So I have to be nice to him.

Thanks, Ana

Dear Ana,

The key to your situation is to establish “boundary conditions” for your boss’ support as well as the support of his or her peers. You need their support to be successful.  The boundary condition discussions are about:

  • Performance Review: You do your colleague’s performance appraisal and help to determine his bonus in the future.
  • Roles: Your boss outlines what your role is in working with your colleague with your input as to what you want and expect from your new role.
  • “Deliverables:” Regular reports where you need to ask for information with a deadline, have to be designated as part of the role of your colleague. 
  • Audit guide: What will show that the car sales group is staying out of trouble?  Mutually determine how boss will know that you are keeping watch over the auto sales group?
  • Just in case: You need to discuss how much your boss will support you when you politely make requests but your colleague threatens to leave or there are other problems.

Let me know if you have questions or comments.

Thanks for writing, Karen

 

 

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