EDIT: I know 2 weeks is a short time period but in Asia employers tend to evaluate rather quickly. Plus due to financial concerns with small businesses a 'highly-paid' (relative to other jobs etc) employee can be an ongoing concern for them.

TL;DR: I have tried enquiring during these first two weeks what their expectations are, what the goals are and so on but I suspect there's still a high-level of restraint from the key managers/owners. Immediate, very-short-term goals and tasks have been negotiated adequately but my concern is how to I obtain more information over time - in a relevant, professional, industry-standard (tech company) way? This would benefit the business and obviously myself over time because second-guessing at every turn is stressful.

As I can be quite sensitive in general, in Asian countries, especially small local businesses (less than 50 people) or even large companies (hundreds of people), employers can be very tight-lipped about their satisfaction with your employment and also what exactly they want you to do. Or even what they really expect.

My personal opinion is that this is a Chinese/'IndoChinese' cultural trait where outright forward verbal and especially written feedback and discussion is very carefully or cautiously phrased.

I am half-(Straits)Chinese and spent my childhood and periods of adulthood in South East Asia. The above trait is different from Japanese culture because Japanese restraint is more codified whereas Chinese/'IndoChinese' restraint is caution-oriented and not meant to give away the reasons for behaviour to the other person.

Part of this tactically is a "gambling" mentality as in "let's see what I can get out of this employee/employeer" which obviously is not limited to any specific culture, though it is common in Chinese culture - whether malicious or not. This is a cultural fact and let's not get politically correct because directness is the topic of my question.

Nowadays larger organisations do have KPI, reviews and so on. However smaller businesses or certain departments of companies appear to have the above wait-and-see approach or what some developers or managers call "subtle control" since outright control would cause an employee to leave unexpectedly. Like anywhere else of course there are "written and unwritten" aspects to any job.

In any case, being predominantly Western-educated and having Western work experience it is hard to extract information on what exactly they want, and what exactly they require since I am now considered well-compensated in my current new job. I may not be able to do everything they want in the way they want but I believe I can contribute and provide value-for-money.

FWIW if you were wondering about obtaining this information prior to starting the job, interview processes in Asia can be very frustrating because besides the questions to answer (that's fine) the job description and role descriptions even in larger organisations can be very fluid and less clearly specified than in the West. I've had to cut some interviews short because especially for tech jobs they shouldn't be meandering. Let alone some employers trying to unprofessionally "interview" you over WhatsApp. So any job description or contract may not be as useful as it seems in Asia.

Yes I could be more "uncaring" but I am wondering if any of you know other approaches.


You can't project Western 'norms' into another culture very easily.

in a relevant, professional, industry-standard (tech company) way?

is locale specific

One overriding thing I have seen many times that underlies the difference is pay/human resources. In many positions especially tech these days, there is a scarcity of human resources which inverts the whole hiring and retention strategies. Pay is high, but only relative to other professions in the locale. Meanwhile demand for the skills is also high.

So if you upset someone, they can just walk out the door flipping a finger and get another job. Whereas the employer may find it difficult to get a replacement. I've done this and had it so difficult for my former employment to find a replacement that half their biggest clients came around to my house offering me a job or asking me to freelance even for cash if I wanted. The business consequences were huge.

Honest feedback is hard to gauge in this sort of atmosphere, the real proof is done with bonus's and raises.

  • Accepted as answer. You have elucidated that the more overriding issue is not so much the cultural aspect. I am affected more in this situation because it is my birth country. Nonetheless... It is the latter severe shortage of developers that has created a strange and uncomfortable environment for hirers and companies. I also have had past employers get upset and/or literally beg, as well as clients asking the company to deal with me directly (not so much bypassing per se). I don't relish this, perhaps there is a reason for the usual employee-employer "hierarchy".
    – SaltySub2
    Oct 17 '18 at 1:43
  • 1
    It's a simple equation, if skilled and qualified human resources are scarce, they rule the job market. Accountants here get forced to resign for stealing and walk straight into another job, govt jobs even.
    – Kilisi
    Oct 17 '18 at 1:47
  • Wow, OK. As related to this question you don't have to mention the country but can you specify the geographic region in general?
    – SaltySub2
    Oct 17 '18 at 1:49
  • 1
    Most of the third World I would think
    – Kilisi
    Oct 17 '18 at 2:10
  • 1
    FWIW it does occur in Western countries as well in my experience, more and more due to this "Age of AI and software automation" situation. Of course due to somewhat more rigorous compliance processes this situation of "giving the finger" it's more in terms of tech employees resigning or walking out on situations that are unsatisfactory, uncomfortable or toxic. I'm guilty of this in the West and in relation to this question. OK that concludes our discussions, appreciate all the feedback.
    – SaltySub2
    Oct 17 '18 at 2:40

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