Although I risk a vehement chorus of disagreement for saying so, my Chinese bosses have been relatively easy to please.
Yes, their constant requests to appear at business dinners or be photographed in school advertisements can be annoying, but in general I have found Chinese bosses do not ask for so much from their foreign teachers.
Of course, there are ESL teachers in China who still manage to drive their bosses crazy. How? Often, they are just plain bad teachers who think they can get away with anything.
Here are some actions (or lack thereof) which are sure to annoy your Chinese boss:
- Showing up late to class — No matter how much your Chinese boss likes you, he or she is not going to appreciate a tardy teacher. Not only does showing up late for your class annoy teachers and students, but it sets a bad example for the rest of the staff. Showing up early to prepare for your ESL class is always a good rule of thumb.
- Dressing like a slob — Whether you like it or not, you become a representative of your school as soon as you sign your name on the contract. Parents, students, prospective clients, and visiting VIP’s will notice and take into account the way you look. While it may be fun to show off your personality and dress however you please, do not forget you are working for a business. In your home country you would assuredly be expected to follow a dress code so why should it be different in China?
- Throwing a temper tantrum — Being firm with your Chinese boss or supervisor is important but yelling and flailing your arms around will get you nowhere. In fact, throwing a temper tantrum will simply anger your boss and cause the whole school to lose respect for you. If you have a ‘bone to pick’ with your boss, always speak with him in private and remember the importance of “saving face” in China.
- Always refusing to do any extra favors for the school — Some Chinese bosses will always ask you to do extra favors for the school. Legally, you only need to do what is required in the contract. While I definitely said no to about 90% of the business trips and luncheons I was asked to attend, I tried to honor some of the requests just to show I did have an interest in the school’s well being. Always doing the bare minimum and never going the ‘extra mile’ is sure to annoy your boss and render him less unapproachable should you need a favor.
- Complaining about the school administration to students and teachers — This is a big no-no. Talking about your boss behind his back is the #1 way to lose respect and make the whole staff angry at you. It is amazing how fas gossip spreads in a Chinese school. Saying bad words about your boss or about the school to your students is also a suicidal idea and will most likely get you in big trouble.
- Failing to prepare for your ESL classes — My boss rarely sat in on my ESL classes but I was aware the teachers and students often ‘filled him in’ on what I was teaching. If you develop a pattern of teaching your ESL classes ‘on the fly’ there are sure to be dissatisfied students who will complain to the administration. Consistently not preparing for your classes will anger your boss because he or she will begin to suspect you are just doing the bare minimum required and that you do not take your teaching job seriously. Prepare for your classes and everyone, including yourself, will be much happier.