06 March 2011

Strategic HR Management of Ancient Chinese

An alternative title is “There is no such thing as a defective or unemployable person”.

In my study of Lao Zi Dao De Jing (see Ancient Chinese Bible of Grace & Truth), I was led to the work of Wen Zi(文子) which was another Ancient Chinese Classics, lesser known of course, about the sayings of Lao Zi. In it, passage number 8 on natural order 卷八 自然, it has a paragraph on the use of different personalities for different assignments in a battle. There is no such thing as a weakness or defective personalities. It is more about how matching job requirements and the personalities. Here is the original Chinese text:
故用兵者,或輕或重,或貪或廉,四者相反,不可一也,輕者欲發,重者欲止,貪者欲取,廉者不利非其有也。故勇者可令進鬥,不可令持堅,重者可令固守,不可令凌敵,貪者可令攻取,不可令分財,廉者可令守分,不可令進取,信者可令持約,不可令應變,五者,聖人兼用而材使之。

Here is the English translation:

Hence, in the employment of soldiers in battle.  There are some who are restless (& reckless), some who are careful (& steady), some who are greedy and some who are honest (& thrifty). These four are in contrast to each other. There is no  way to treat them the same. The restless like to move ahead. The steady and cautious like to stop. The greedy like to take. The thrifty ones do not like to take things that do not belong to them. Hence, the braves ones can be use to do the attacking but cannot be employed to persist in defense.  The steady and careful ones can be commanded to stay and guard the place but cannot be use to attack the enemy. The greedy ones can be employed to attack and possess but could not be used to divide the spoils and wealth. The  thrifty can be asked to divide the goods and cannot be sent forward to possess the lands. The faithful ones can be use to keep the laws but cannot be use to meet the changes. These five different types, the wise man (or superior man) is able to use all of them and their capabilities successfully.

These teachings are just as relevant and powerful now in Strategic Human Resource Management.
  1. Work out the strategic jobs or assignments in accomplishing a mission
  2. Understand the Personality Types of the Staff that you have.
  3. Match the Strategic Job requirements to the Personalities types of the staff.  Please note, there is no implied strengths or weaknesses for the personalities types. Or strength or weakness is dependent on the context of the job assignment.
    There is not such thing as unemployablility! You just need to find the right job that suits him
    .
  4. Think about usability or employability rather than just firing. Synergy comes from rightly employing the differences to the maximum in the best roles. 
    See also  八观六验 六戚四隐 (Eight Observation and Six Experience Six Relatives and Four Hidden) in The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self.

    For related topics of wisdom according to Ancient Chinese see Chinese Wisdom.
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