You can imagine the look on my face, having delivered a three day management development programme in the Far East, as the delegates approached me on the final evening to thank me for the informative and useful programme addressing motivation and managing people.  One delegate in particular sticks in my mind. He said he found everything very useful and was appreciative of the fact he was selected by his company to have the opportunity to attend. And then asked me a killer question: “Can I just ask one question? Why should we motivate our staff?” Fearing that there was a language problem and that this delegate had missed the whole point of staff motivation, I was about to embark on a mini disquisition on the benefits of staff motivation when he interrupted me further. “Oh I did understand what you said. It’s just that in this country (Hong Kong) they come in early and work productively all day, and then leave late. They know that if they do not give 110% there are fifteen or twenty others who would love the chance to do their job. So why do we need to motivate them to work better or harder?”  To this day I’m not sure I have an answer to this one. Are things so different here or is it just that we see things differently?

It is probably fair to say that any sales manager realises that thousands of sales execs and possibly many other managers would love their job, but does that help their focus? I suspect a certain amount of arrogance exists here that says (at an extreme) I am the best person for this job and I will do what I can when I can – in fact you’re lucky to have me! This difference is also manifest in a huge difference in audiences who attend my training sessions as well. In Asia (China, Hong Kong) the delegate is like a little sponge, sucking out every last nugget and application so that they can employ the strategies and tips for their own machinations. In the Middle East it is more of a mix of those who are attending because of the kudos and those who need to learn and experience the skills and strategies. Europeans are (and I generalise) much more defensive and resistant. This cultural difference extends through the whole chain where delegates are, at one end, honoured to have been selected to attend a course to the other extreme, where they have been sent on a course (implication) ‘cause they think I’m rubbish. The next time you attend a training session monitor your own response – it could be quite revealing?