United States Heartland China Association


News, Analysis & Insights

Perspectives in Chinese: The Experience of One Chinese expat in the US

The following is a summary of a LinkedIn post written in Chinese about a Chinese HR professional's experience during a three-year assignment at John Deere headquarters in Moline, Illinois.

This article shows us the kinds of challenges staff can face in a cross-cultural work environment, as well as point to areas for possible training in multinational companies.

From LinkedIn and summarized by Wendy Xu and Olivia Smalley

What I learned from my expatriate assignment in a US headquarters

Ann Tang has worked in human resources for about 20 years, ever since graduating from college. In 2006, she joined the John Deere company and in 10 years worked up from HR manager to HR expert. In 2013, she went to John Deere headquarters in the United States for a three-year assignment.

Tang met many challenges when she initially started working with eight American team members. Cultural differences, differing work processes, and differences in expectations made Tang lose confidence and interact less with colleagues. Unlike in Chinese companies, virtual conference calls are very common in American companies. At first, Tang was proud of her efficiency, writing reports and emails during conference calls. Later, she found she did not know about any plans made during the call, which left her confused in the following one. Being part of the management team, Tang then found it hard to show her value. These experiences taught Tang to focus on one thing at a time.

Another thing Tang learned from her three years in the American workforce was to be prepared for every meeting, regardless of whether the subject was part of her expertise, and to use even minor skills to show contributions to the team. Tang paid a lot of attention to “one-on-one meetings” because she thought it would be a good time to establish a good relationship between employees and supervisors. When Tang was not familiar with a working process, she used her common sense and her skills to develop her abilities. Being prepared every time can also help to align and engage employees quickly which will improve the team’s efficiency.

As a human resource manager, Tang encourages her employees to treat every performance as a chance to show their individual participation and contribution. She emphasized being prepared for every conference and meeting, even if one doesn't need to make a presentation.

Pat McAloon