Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where are the Talents?

What is the biggest challenge in an economic down turn? Loosing Talents! It sounds a bit contradictory, because you may think that now we have more talents to compete for fewer positions. True. However, you might overlook the fact that talents always have options. And by the way, real talents require high standards of environment. They will not tolerant for mediocre working process, the type of work and of course the boss, exactly because they have options.

Let me ask you a question. In your last reorganization, when people felt uncertain, which people tented to leave first? Of cause the good ones. They are always alert, look for the best path for their career and they take quickly actions. Well, how do you identify the best talents in your organization?

Talents know how to position themselves as experts in some specific area. These people's names will immediately jump into your mind, when you think about a certain term. For example, who is doing marketing in your company? Who will you ask, when you have PC problems? etc. These people's job title may be different than their area of experts, but they are the ones people looking for advice. Just to name another example, people come to me, when there is an issue on leadership challenge.

There are no static talents. Real talents constantly develop themselves, reposition themselves, whenever the needs of the market (inside or outside) shift. They are learning and most likely also by providing value to others and by solving problems for others. Since these people are extremely useful. So it happened that they end up with 2 to 5 job offers during reorganization. Their problem is actually to make tough decision among all the good options, while many others will end up with no job offer at all.

Now, how do you, as a boss, attract those talents?

1) Position yourselves as some one who loves to be around with smart people, you do not mind that there are people working for you who are more capable than you. Question for you: do you have the gut, inner security and wisdom to do so?

2) Fully recognize their specific working style and try to meet their individual requirements, including working time, ways of communication and salary expectation etc.

3) Understand and meet their development needs. Where do they want to go, career, emotion, spiritual, life style? What are their values? Can you fully accept, recognize and support them?

4) Give them a lot of freedom.

If you do all these continuously, you will be overloaded with talents. And you are automatically positioning yourself as a "leadership talent" who will never have difficulty to find a job again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to motivate Chinese employees?

If you belong to those managers, who haven't figure out yet how to motivate Chinese employees, here I offer some thoughts for you to consider.

I have spoke with few friends who have lived in Germany and then moved back to China. Majority of them are either owners of a company or General Managers for China operations of a German company. They told me that the Chinese employee do not really take initiatives, they are general not motivated, unless you push them, set pressure to them or warn them to leave.

I asked them: "Then they are motivated?" "Yes, but only if you hold the pressure. When you take away the pressure, they go back to the old mode, namely do what you told them precisely or less."

That is exactly the point. Generally there are only two ways to motivate anyone in the world, Chinese included: the first is avoiding pain. The second is gaining joy. The only difference is that the first will stop, when you take away the pain. The second one will last, because human being is thirty for joy. So far the theory. How would it look like in the reality.

I usually start with an employee, after I got to know him with a statement: "My job is to make you happy. Your job is to make yourself happy by doing what you have to do." Then I would identify the needs of him coming day in and day out into the office. What are those needs then?

The most critical need for people I deal with is the need of being important. What could you do to make people feel important? How about taking time to talk with them, listen to their concerns and their interests? How about explaining to them in which way is what they do is critical for the entire business? How about taking them for lunch or having celebration after a deal is closed?

The second critical need is the need of development. It is not just a salary increase or a promotion. By the way, how often can you do this every year? It is about the continuously mental progress by doing a better job or doing a more difficult task.

Then there is the need of fun in the job. Yes. Highly motivated people are doing things they absolutely like, or even love to do. So I would always ask the question after job interview: "would this person do the job even for free?" Certainly it is just a hypothetic question. But this is the really test for motivation.

There are surely other needs that should be fulfilled in a job. Please do a test, select one employee you like and ask the question: "How can I make your job more enjoyable, beside money?" You will be amazed, what will come out. If you can realize those needs, they will stay with you even you would suggest them to leave.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Met school mates 36 Years later in Shanghai

Last Saturday 10 of my primary school mates met in Shanghai. I have not seen most of them for 36 years. What a change! Most stayed in Shanghai during these entire 36 years. Only Mr. Huang and myself went abroad. You can tell that experience changes life forever.
Mr. Huang did not pass the entry test for the universities, but he was one of the Chinese who are eager to win and eager to reach the stars. So he went to Japan 20 years ago to study and financed his study himself with low level hard works he even did not want to mention. There are huge difference between the Chinese students in his generation and the generation today, where parents take care of their children abroad, paying a luxury student life.
Mr. Huang finished the study in Japan, worked for Toshiba and then he was sent to Singapore 10 years ago to develop Asia Pacific business. In Singapore he made some Chinese friends and suddenly realized that all Chinese in Singapore were doing some kind of business. So he quit the job at Toshiba and started his own trading business. Now he has one company in Japan, one in Singapore and one in China. Mr. Huang considered every day as Sunday, because he has no boss to report to and no working time to justify.
However, one element in life was not to his full satisfaction: he had almost no time to take care of building a family. Only recently, he married a young girl with age gap of 16 years. The young lady asked him to stay with him for another 50 years. He promised promptly. But back in his heart, he knows that it was a lie, not because he would be not loyal, but because he does not expect to live until age 98.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Since you are reading this Blog, the chance is that you are a German manager working in China, probably as an Expat. This is an exciting place, wouldn't you agree? You will find a lot of fun. At the same time you will face many leadership challenges, that could make your job even more exciting or create you some headache.

In both cases, your experiences are worth sharing with other German managers working in China, so they can learn from you and you may have chances to gain benefits from others. This is the whole purpose of creating the Blog. Why should I do it?

- First of all, I share similar experiences with you, as a German Expat in China. I share same joy and pain.

- Secondly, I was born in China, so I am in advantage by knowing both sides cultures.

- Thirdly, during my time in Germany, I provided leadership training courses to managers inside and outside of my company Alcatel-Lucent. And I loved doing it.

It would be greatly appreciated if you can post your comments and feedback any time. This is your Blog, and it will be better and more useful for you with your valuable inputs. Thanks.