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.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, this is a very cool blog. It gives deep insight into how it works in China and I recognize my own experience when I was there. Yes, what you write is true. You had to be very pushy and use fear to motivate people. I found this to be exhausting and frustrating. Even worse, the view from the employees is that a manager who does not push is weak and not a real manager. This leaves little room for creativity and growth. When I tried to convey similar concepts to what your advocating, they did not understand or choose not to understand due to the language barrier.

    You’re doing something that is very hard and having tried pieces of it, I appreciate what you do even more.
    O. P.