I moved from Taiwan to the US at the age of 8. I then spent 17 years abroad before returning to Taiwan in 2017.
I currently work as an account manager in Taipei. In Jan. 2020, he raised my monthly pay by NT$10,000. As far as I know, a raise of this size is unheard of in this company. Most people get raises of NT$1,000 - NT$2,000. A few months after this raise, a project engineer did try to force me to stop being the meeting chair. He stated I don’t have enough experience and that my Mandarin abilities are not up to par. I told him that this is up to the manager to decide. A few weeks later, another engineer secretly asked to be able to serve as the meeting chair for just 1 morning. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy, but because this second engineer was and is very well-liked in the company, there’s nothing I can do.
Yesterday (early Dec. 2021), my boss had a talk with me. He started by implying that it seems that I don’t want to stay in my current job for much longer. I said there are concerns about how our biggest client has been on a steady decline and that we’re getting less and less new cases. He says that I do my job well and that he doesn’t have much to say about my job performance. However, he said that I rarely socialize with my co-workers. He then called me a homebody or 宅男. He said that my negotiations and emails with clients show that I don’t give consideration to lots of different viewpoints, suggestions brought up by my co-workers. He said it’s partly due to cultural differences as I grew up abroad. He said that Westerners are more individualistic, whereas Taiwanese people are very collectivist. My opinion is that I have the final say in how to do things as I am responsible for whatever I do. He said that the only thing going for me in Taiwan professionally is my native English abilities. Otherwise, if the current employees were already native English speakers, I wouldn’t be needed.
In the end, my boss stated that I let him down.
Does it sound contradictory if he says he’s not concerned with my job performance, but he feels I don’t consider other viewpoints, suggestions as much?
What are your thoughts?
I would like you to get in touch with someone who might open an important perspective on your professional life in Taiwan. You grew up abroad, are you of Chinese or Taiwanese descent?
Have you been here a while? Let’s hear more of your thoughts…
edit -Thanks for updating your context
My dad is Taiwanese. My mom is overseas Chinese.
Please re-read as I added even more details.
I don’t know about the rest, but this should an easy fix. Taiwanese aren’t as outgoing as Americans (long discussions at the coffee machine or in line waiting for the elevator type of thing), but they all have interests. I have a weekly study group that I join. I also did Wuling cycling with two co-workers. I used to go out drinking every once in a while but with covid, that kind of disappeared (maybe I should start that again). So join others in an interest you have. Or maybe start a new hobby by joining an existing group (badminton club, hiking group, etc.).
Did you spend time in UK or US? Your parents? You’ve somehow acquired the waiguoren curse of being direct, and to the point, independent. You probably must smell ok, or that would likely have been it.
Do you use linkedin? If so, I’ll PM you a name of a cross-culture specialist. Otherwise, I’ll reach out to them to see if they have any open events planned in the near future.
It may be that your independent conduct, such as the direct claim that you are responsible for you is not conducive to your adhesion / cohesion to the team/tribe/pack. Even in the west we don’t go solo, not from a leadership perspective. Leaders are often group hugging cheer leaders.
There is nothing wrong with being an independent performer, but you and your boss and your team need to recognize and understand it before they can begin to accept it.
I got a very negative vibe from that meeting. I just had a gut feeling that my manager would like me to resign soon.
I feel like there’s more ‘unsolicited, critical advice’ received in Taiwan. It’s like you’re not a good boss if you aren’t implying folk should be working harder. I would not take it personally. I also feel like a lot of things that are optional in the States are mandatory here and “togetherness all the time” is more highly prized. If you like the job, I would probably make more token efforts to be part of the team (bring everyone tea or something–the advice above is good) and keep on doing what you are doing.
It’s possible. Sounds negative to me. Maybe you should start looking at your options. The economy here is doing great. You should look and also at the same time try to socialize more (don’t give your boss a silly excuse like that to dislike you).
there have been a few occasions in which I replied verbatim as per my boss’s instructions, but the client reacted negatively to my email. However, I was still blamed for what happened.
Some locals did tell me that people here can often take it personally if you don’t socialize “enough” with co-workers.
Bears repeating. As for the following, I meant to treat in my above post:
You may be getting sh!t done, but without some inspection into the experience of stakeholders, they may feel like you’re discounting their contribution, leading to facehurt.
I just coined facehurt. Like butthurt, but less expressive in its suffering.
more seriously, it may be an age and experience thing. Are you new to work life? Did you grow up in the US? Did you have less social activity wherever you grew up?
I’m relatively new to the company. Most of my co-workers have been working here for 15 years or more.
i dont think so, it depends on the company.
I work for a local company and there is no expectation to socialize, in fact most people rush out the door at 6 o’clock, few conversations at lunch time and even fewer friendships.
no camaraderie, its a dog-eat-dog world in the sales department, and often times sales people over-promise to clients and dont give a f%^k about the projects team problems in execution.
i think its bullshit, boss is trying to spin things to blame you for something that is not your fault. work place friendship and socializing is not a requirement, as long as you are polite and get things done it should be ok. probably others are jealous of you, or see you as a threat, unless the pay is really good, i will look for somewhere else, the TW office can be very back stabbing.
I definitely feel this way. In Jan. 2020, he raised my monthly pay by NT$10,000. As far as I know, a raise of this size is unheard of in this company. Yesterday, he said he was disappointed in my job performance this year.
In my current company there are quite a few people like you, Taiwanese that grew up overseas, it is hard for them to fit it with the “native” Taiwanese at times, so what you are describing is not strange to me, but a hurtful reality. in a sense you are an immigrant to your own country…
saying that “you are here only because you speak english” is rude and harsh, but that is a sentiment many foreigners get too…
if you like your work and colleagues, no need to quit over 1 time boss is unhappy… and if he wants you to quit, believe me he will find a way to make you miserable at work till you quit…
if you have other options, it never hurts to look sideways discretely.
I also feel that some of my co-workers feel that my NT$10,000/month pay raise was not justified and resent me for that.
I never socialize with coworkers if I can help it. You don’t really need to outside of work. Of course in office hours you should be friendly. But that’s not a cultural issue. If I do get invited to KTV or some such thing I just say sorry, I have a thing. Football, death metal etc.