4 rules for motivating your team members

When managing teams in China, it’s easy to think about managing the team as a whole while forgetting that you’re also managing individuals. This is of course true anywhere, but it’s especially easy for foreigner managers working abroad to think they only need to manage the group.

It can be helpful to compare managing teams in your home country to managing a team in China. Understanding the general differences in motivations and expectations help guide how you talk to the group when explaining initiatives, defining expectations, and generally building the team’s culture.

But when I first moved back to China three years ago I fell into the trap of only managing the group, forgetting that I was actually working with individuals, each with unique motivations. I’ve also seen other foreigners managing Chinese teams fall into the trap of thinking only of the group as a whole, rather than also thinking of the group as a collection of individuals.

It’s time to start managing both the group and the individuals.

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Mix it, pour it, just don’t drink it

It’s important for entrepreneurs to believe in what they are selling — in essence, to create a field of distortion around themselves that makes it seem like anything is possible with their solution. They just need to make sure they don’t believe what they’re saying to the point of distorting their own view.

I often find myself saying to entrepreneurs “your job is to mix it and serve it, just don’t drink it yourself!” This usually slips out of my mouth when I’m talking to an entrepreneur who is pushing their idea so hard that it seems like they are trying to convince themselves of its brilliance, though in most cases I think they actually believe it, which is what concerns me.

This doesn’t mean it’s bad to serve the Kool-Aid to others (metaphorically speaking, of course). Really, as an entrepreneur that’s a huge part of your job: selling others on your dream. And while it’s absolutely critical that you make a case for your product or service that has people fighting to buy it, you have to make sure you critically assess the reality of your situation.

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Building your team of rivals

Do you get along with your co-founders really well? Do you feel like you always see eye-to-eye on everything? Then you would probably benefit from adding some “rivals” to your team. I’ve started reading Team of Rivals a number of times and … [Continue reading]

The humble entrepreneur

Man in a row boat in a field - Thinkstock

I’m lucky to frequently meet with entrepreneurs as part of my job. Like many who work in the entrepreneurial space, I spend as much time getting a feel for the team as I do considering their idea. I recently met with an entrepreneur who impressed … [Continue reading]

Chinese studying abroad — an interview with Danny Wang

This is the third and final post in my series on Chinese studying abroad and the entrepreneurs serving them. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Danny Wang, co-founder of WeblishPal, a platform that connects Chinese English language learners … [Continue reading]