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They don’t like to share

That’s one of the cultural differences American managers find working in China compared to working in the United States.

A Gannett News story about the book “Leadership Success in China: An Expatriate’s Guide” says, “In the past, resources have been scarce in China and workers grew up hoarding what they had. They think if they share information or knowledge with another worker, it will limit their chances for personal success.”

I’ve been in work cultures that I could say, “They don’t like to share.”

From those experiences I’ve deducted some reasons for not sharing.
• It’s the same as the Chinese. People believe if they know details of a project or information from a meeting, they have power over others.
• They are insecure and don’t understand one is effective when you include others who have expertise and ideas in areas you don’t.
• They don’t understand the power of effective communication. It doesn’t occur to them that communicating details will get buy-in, discussion leading to better ideas and solutions.
• It takes time to write and speak effectively giving only succinct and meaningful information.

What happens when there is no sharing
• Staff spend time speculating and complaining. Morale and productivity are undermined.
• Staff tire of ‘surprises’ and begin searching for new jobs or no longer care about their work production or quality.
• It’s viral. Others stop sharing information.
• If openness brings criticism and repercussions, people focus on protecting themselves.
• There’s no excitement or energy.
• There’s a lack of civility (respect for others) in the workplace.

Sharing information promotes a cohesive energized workplace that can focus on common goals.

Gannett News Service, July 23, 2008
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