1. What is a country manager?
2. Country Manager Duties and Responsibilities
3. Traits Of A Successful Country Manager
4. Common mistakes when hiring a Country Manager
Are you entering a new market? Companies typically have 2 phases to go through.
The first phase is establishing your business in the new land. The second phase is expanding and establishing the operation in the new country.
You can hire a local marketing agency or a local market consultant to help you with the first phase. We made a video about what these professionals do, so you can watch it here:
And when you have some business presence established in the new market and are looking at setting up operations in the new country, it is time to hire a country manager.
What is a country manager?
The primary role of a Country Manager is to oversee the operations of a company’s affiliate in a particular country or region. Country Managers oversee logistics, develop new business and ensure profitability. They are responsible for managing overall operations, recruiting staff, and creating budgets. Country Managers also develop and submit weekly, monthly or quarterly performance and progress reports to company headquarters.
In every form of industry that is undergoing global growth, country managers are hired. A Country Manager is basically an executive position; the job growth rate for all executives is 8 percent over the period 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth rate varies from industry to industry and is directly influenced by expansion rates and the need for extended organizations to be supervised by operations managers and other executives.
Country Manager Duties and Responsibilities
Develop Operational Plans
It is up to country managers, from communications to warehousing, to ensure that all facets of a company run smoothly. They guarantee that the in-country affiliate of an organization complies with all national laws and cultural guidelines. They also create strategies for business development and revenue enhancement.
Implement Brand Strategies
Country Managers are responsible in a particular country or area for creating the brand of a business. They design advertisement and promotional campaigns and are active in the positioning of goods and the creation of global brand marketing.
Generate Progress Reports
Country Managers continuously review the growth, sales, and marketing accomplishments of the company and compile reports to send to superiors at the headquarters of the company. They present information on budgets, revenue increases or decreases, new business leads, and compliance with regulations.
Recruit and Train Staff
Usually, it is up to Country Managers to oversee employee recruiting and training in a specific field. Country Managers may take part in the selection of staff, the development of training, scheduling, and continuing professional development of employees.
Traits Of A Successful Country Manager
A. The candidate is able to understand and apply both Japanese and Western thinking in their work
It's really crucial to understand both Japanese and Western cultures. The candidate should be receptive to the needs of the Japanese market, but also consider their Western counterparts' culture and beliefs. A Country Manager's job is to bridge a foreign company and make it run in the Japanese market, so the applicant must be in contact with both sides of the spectrum.
B. Fluency in English is a big plus
Be mindful, though, that a native level of English should not be expected. To interact with the US team, fluency in the language is appropriate.
In Japan, this trait is harder to find, but it's important to employ someone who takes the initiative and has a vision. It should be possible for the nominee to prioritize well and take action on their own.
D. Strong business and personal network in Japan
A strong network is a very helpful feature to have for a country manager, particularly as a startup or at the early stages of global expansion.
E. Strong trust
This might be obvious but the country manager essentially acts as a CEO of your company in another country. You want to hire someone who is responsible and trustworthy.
F. Reports bad news first, good news later
Many people want to first report good news and then later report bad news, but reporting bad news too late can also worsen the issue. You want to employ someone who always approaches the topic head-on and talks with it directly. In order to keep things from getting worse, this will help the team solve the problem early.
G. Capable of sales, marketing, and training
Sales and marketing for growing the business, but also training experience for growing the team is an important skill the Country Manager should have.
H. Identifies problems and solves them
A strong country manager is able to recognize and solve issues. You should ask the applicant in the interview what kind of issues he or she has faced in their previous work and how they have overcome them.
I. Team player - "Never put off what you should assign today until tomorrow,"
It's nice to be a self-starter, but country managers should also be good at efficiently distributing and delegating tasks rather than hoarding all the work and taking credit. There is always a lot to do and it is important to prioritize and delegate appropriately. Good Country Managers should be in a position to make the necessary decisions as to whether to delegate internally or externally.
K. Able to interact with all levels of associations in the Japanese industry
It can be a very useful way to help growth in the Japanese market to enter and communicate with members of Japanese industry associations. Another explanation why the Country Manager needs to be someone who blends into Japanese culture and knows the market inside and out; they may not be native English speakers, but knowledge of their local market has more weight as long as they are fluent enough to communicate.
Common mistakes when hiring a Country Manager
A. Overconfidence in talent recruiters or headhunters
Many businesses make the mistake of relying too much on headhunters to find the right candidate for them. Typically, on a retainer or contingency basis, these agents function. Both greatly consume time and resources. Also, if choosing a good applicant is difficult for you, it is also difficult for an agent to do the same because a country manager's criteria are strict, and not many people have the correct form of experience and skills.
B. Overestimating candidate resume track record
While job experience is important when looking at applicant resumes, it is much more important to research the company success history of the nominee. This helps demonstrate what the employee has actually done to help the company expand. Compare how close the sales target is to the real earnings of the previous company of the candidate and take into account what market and form of business it is.
In order not to overestimate, rigorous interviewing is necessary.
D. Lack of background check on corporate management experience and skills
During Country Manager interviews, expertise in the management of general corporate relations and human resources is very relevant but sometimes ignored. These skills are essential to the growth of a successful Japanese team.
E. Not measuring his or her business and personal network reach
A very critical part of becoming a country manager is to have a good network. Be sure to check whether the applicant has a large business and personal network within your specific industry while interviewing. This not only encourages the potential growth of your company but also demonstrates that the applicant is genuinely personable and can establish strong relationships with others.
You can also check: How Much Does A Country Manager Make In A Year?