In the last post, I was talking about some of the differences between Chinese team building as the team manager and Chinese team building when you are not.
Many China business services professionals find themselves in situations where they work with teams who work for suppliers of their customers. As an outside project manager, these professionals have no impact on the future of the team members in their organizations, they cannot give them bonuses or penalize them in any way.
In the last post, I talked about some of the factors that influence the team’s motivation to cooperate (or not) with you.
If you find yourself in the same situation, you have to motivate these teams to work towards achieving the customer’s goals.
If you didn’t read that post, I encourage you to read it first. This post is written assuming you read it.
You can find the link to the post here:
If you read any of my other posts, you know that I always talk about work in a Chinese environment. Some of what I say may be relevant to other working environments as well.
In the last post I talked about the first step in the team building – Allow the team members to lower their guard by assuring the team you are sensitive to the additional workload your project will create and you come with the intention to work together with them.
STEP #2: EARN THEIR RESPECT
Once communication channels are open and conversations you have with the team are calm and relaxed you can move on to the next step.
Being respected and receiving recognition is something that motivates everybody.
To be respected, you have to respect first. Respect the team members time, the effort they are investing into the project, respect their right to decide how they manage their own time and that they have other tasks they have to attend to.
Recognizing the team members strengths is a good thing. But you won’t be able to do it without understanding what their real strengths are. To do this you will have to observe them first and find what their true strengths are. Recognizing people for their true strengths motivates them. Complimenting people for areas they perceive as their weaknesses can do the opposite.
STEP #3: BRING THEM BACK INTO THE SPOTLIGHTS
Sometimes the projects you are involved in are not prioritized by the factory the team is working for. Because of this, the team members managers, may not focus their attention on the team members and will not support them or recognize their contribution to the project success.
Have a discussion with the team members managers. Talk about how a successful completion of the project will benefit the supplier’s organization and candidly and professionally tell the manager how the team contributes to the success of the project. That would help remind the manager that the team is doing an important job and hopefully will bring them closer to the spotlights.
STEP #4: DON’T BE AN ELEPHANT IN A CHINA STORE
Get a feel for their organization culture. How do they communicate? What is the informal hierarchy and who gets the respect for being a doer? Who has a managerial position but no support from their teammates?
Communicate with the “doers” without insulting the managers by not communicating with them.
If you find the managers do not have the authority and support to lead the efforts, help them. Suggest to them to have a meeting together with them and a higher managerial level that does have the authority.
STEP #5 AND THE MOST POWERFULL ONE: HELP THEM
There is no doubt that helping the team members will get you more support and cooperation than anything else you can do.
Just like you, the team members have a job to do. When they will learn to trust you as someone that not only does not make their life more difficult but as someone that makes their life easier and helps them do their job faster and better, they will learn to want your help and they will respect you and appreciate what you are doing for them. Next, they will feel it is only appropriate to work and cooperate with you.
Use your strengths to help them. Facilitate communication with the people in the overseas office.
Use the relationship you have with the customer to expedite procedures or, if you are very technical, use your own knowledge to help them with quality issues and achieve the goal faster and with less effort.
REMEMBER THE GOAL
Over time, personal relationships will be formed on top of the professional relationship and the feeling of a team working together will get stronger.
Try to include all team members in important and milestone meetings. Share information across the team and keep their organization politics out as much as possible.
This is not a sure formula and sometimes it doesn’t work. But it does work many times and the team feeling that is being created is highly rewarding.
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If you would like to share with us your experience in China, or if you have any questions, please contact us. We would love talking to you about your projects in China.