Managing Staff in China: Becoming Aware

Relative to managing internal staff, managers must first be aware of some of the behaviors to expect and their causes.

Nearly Out of Sight

To intercept problems that may be developing (nearly) out of sight, managers must be ever-diligent in checking the progress of staff. Where possible, managers should be meeting face-to-face with clients, walking the shop floor and so on.

Being very sensitive and always diligent relative to nonverbal cues is a critical skill to develop. Vague language, highly mitigated speech and evasive or defensive body language are glaring red flags to be taken very seriously and often are indicative of significant underlying problems.

After problems are discovered, care must also be taken in finding and implementing solutions. If a manager offers a solution then the discussion with staff is generally over, and staff will diligently seek to implement the proposal. Much is usually lost in this approach – namely the insights and ideas of staff.

Likewise, if a manager asks in a team meeting for a proposal for solving the problem, he may not hear the best solutions proposed as staff will often be very conservative in their suggestions so as not to embarrass themselves with ideas that may be rejected or out of concern for making a suggestion that may be contrary to the opinion of the manager.

A better approach is often a one-on-one discussion in which solutions or proposals are solicited and modifications proposed in the form of questions or in other mitigated-speech manners encouraging a feeling of safety that staff proposals will be greeted enthusiastically and modified in constructive face-saving manners.

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