What the Year of The Horse means to HR leaders
In the next weeks the Chinese community celebrates Lunar New Year. The current Year of the Snake is making way for the Year of the Horse. Here are a few Jeopardy facts you need to know about Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival. The event allows families to get together and celebrate during the 15 days marking the festival. Heavy traffic is expected in China heading up to New Year as millions travel to join their families for the festivities. In Chinese districts across the globe festive decorations in red and gold are used. Red is considered a favorable color and helps ward off evil. As can be expected food plays a major role in the celebrations, with good luck foods such as Tangerines and Oranges, Sweets, Nian gao (year cake), Yusheng (prosperity toss), and Whole Fish served.
But there’s also a deeper, more philosophical meaning to the Year of the Horse. Think of the horse as a metaphor for leadership styles: fast moving, hard working, strong, agile, going places, entrepreneurial, but also volatile and unpredictable. The Year of the Horse is commonly considered to be one for fast victories and unexpected adventure. Global leaders are expected to find a way to make a difference and make things happen.
Entrepreneurs will thrive. It is a good year for travel far away and exploring, off the beaten path. Energy is high and productivity gets rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But acting fast is critical for success in a Horse year. The Year of the Horse is not about ‘middle of the road’, and some expect extremes in stock market, fluctuations in prices, and generally stronger movement in the financial sector than in the previous year.
Obviously all these leadership features also affect HR. We’ve been a bit playful and applied the key attributes of the Year of the Horse to the world of HR. Here’s how we think the Year of the Horse will affect HR leaders:
- The year will bring fast victories & unexpected adventures. This may mean working more iteratively, fostering an entrepreneurial management style, with focus on small projects, quick wins and demonstrated results.
- Entrepreneurs will thrive… so we think it is time for HR to foster intrapreneurial initiatives, small group projects, collaborative approaches, all while considering the impact of the 'sharing economy' on HR policies and approaches.
- It’s a good time to explore new horizons and travel off the beaten path. For HR leaders, this can mean 2 things. First, it means the continued effect of globalization on HR and finding a balance between global HR structures and processes and local practices and regulation. Secondly it may also mean - in a more abstract sense - that HR should explore new ways of thinking, working and collaborating, looking for fresh inspiration, and leveraging the opportunities offered by innovative HR technology and services offerings.
- In the Year of the Horse energy is high. We predict there will be increased room for investment in new initiatives and implementation of new ideas and ways of working. The return to growth in the world economy is also symbolized by new energy coming to the workforce, in the shape of Generation Z.
Acting fast may require HR practitioners need to carve out a number of well-defined initiatives and drive them hard, so execution can follow quickly which will help increase the credibility of HR.
In the wake of this Chinese New Year the most lasting impression left on the rest of the world may very well be a new Chinese buzzword which is already making inroads into the Oxford English Dictionary. Tuhao represents all things fancy and is used in a similar context as the term Bling in English. Tuhao means ostentatious or expensive and is used to describe spending money in an irrational manner.
Horses are known to work hard, travel great distances and be free-spirited and social. If you enjoy journeys, like quick successes, not afraid to work hard, and enjoy collaborating in teams and networks, this should be a very good year for you. Keep in mind there is a risk of going too fast and getting too adventurous (or too focused on tuhao-bling!). Decide wisely and with consideration. Don’t rush, but once your mind is made up - move fast and go far!
NGA wishes all HR leaders a Happy Year of the Horse: 马年快乐
- Inna Wahlberg & Michael Custers