Although the previous section suggests that finding a partner is better than hiring a Country Manager, this does not mean you should never hire a Country Manager. You will still need to find a good Country Manager and build a team eventually although the process takes time.
The most common mistakes when hiring a Country Manager are the following:
A. Overconfidence in talent recruiters or headhunters
A lot of companies make the mistake of relying too much on headhunters to find them the perfect candidate. Usually, these agents work on a retainer or contingency basis. Both consume time and money significantly. Also, if it’s difficult for you to find a good candidate, it’s also difficult for an agent to do the same since the requirements of a Country Manager are stringent and not many people have the right kind of experience and skills.
B. Overestimating candidate resume track record
When looking at candidate resumes, although work experience is important, it’s even more crucial to study the candidate’s company business performance history. This helps show what the person did actually did to help grow the business. Compare how close the revenue target is versus the actual earnings of the candidate’s previous company and consider what industry and type of business it is.
To avoid overestimating, interviewing thoroughly is important.
C. Not enough interviewing
Interviewing candidates face-to-face is very important. Recruiters should spend at least two hours interviewing the candidate and hear their full performance history. It’s also crucial to get a feel for the candidate’s attitude when they talk. If time allows, take the candidate to dinner or happy hour — create a more relaxed setting. Make sure they have passion and find out their ideas and vision.
D. Lack of background check on corporate management experience and skills
Experience in managing general corporate affairs and human resources are very important but often overlooked during Country Manager interviews. These skills are key to developing a strong team in Japan.
E. Not measuring his or her business and personal network reach
Having a strong network is a very important part of being a Country Manager. When interviewing, be sure to check if the candidate has a strong business and personal network within your particular industry. This not only helps your business growth in the future but also shows that the candidate is truly personable and can maintain strong relationships with others.
You can also read our previous blog "Entering the Japanese Market: Hiring a Country Manager vs. Finding a Partner"