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We recently have feedback from various managers as to how difficult it is to keep their remote employees and teams engaged.


Let's face it.  If you are looking to expand beyond just a few major cities, having remote employees and teams will be an increasing norm, especially with all the current communication technology that we have at our disposal, working remotely has never been so convenient.


However, having all the latest and user-friendly web technology is not going to help you a single bit, IF you don't have the right people on board who could perform well off-site, as well as having the right skills in managing these remote employees and teams to keep them engaged.


Hence, this month's topics:

  1. How to Develop Highly Engaged Remote Teams and Employees; and

  2. Sales Lessons from "The Wolf of Wall Street"

This issue's main article is on "How to Develop Highly Engaged Remote Teams and Employees", and we explore how you can get your remote employees connected, aligned and be accountable to your team, and your goals.


In brief:

  • What are the kinds of people who are the most likely to become highly engaged remote employees;

  • How to delegate and monitor the work done by your remote employees without micro-managing;

  • How to be an effective leader of remote teams and employees.   Read on... ...

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How to Develop Highly Engaged Remote Teams and Employees


by c.j. Ng


Depending on the nature of your work, it is likely that you will be spending a portion of your time working remotely from your office.  Such instances could be:

  • When you are traveling, and need to coordinate work with your colleagues in the office;
  • When you work in a subsidiary, an overseas business unit or a division and you need to liaise with head office;
  • When you are working in a SOHO (Single-Office, Home Office) arrangement whereby you simply have to get the support from somewhere/ someone etc.


And this list is not exhaustive by any means.

To some, working remotely can be a lonely and harrowing experience of being "exiled" some place.  To others, working remotely means enjoying that sense of freedom and personal space that is not available at the office.

To managers, however, the challenges are usually:

  • "How do I make sure the work done by my remote teams and employees are done on time and correctly?"
  • "How do I make sure that my remote teams and employees are motivated, engaged and productive?"
  • "How can I give the right kind of support to my remote team members?"

The good news for managers is that, according to Gallup, some level of remote work actually boosts employee engagement.  The findings are:

  • Among those who never work remotely, 28% are engaged -- meaning they are emotionally involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work -- while 20% are actively disengaged, meaning they are unhappy at work and tend to disrupt their coworkers' productivity. The remaining on-site workers fall into a middle category -- not engaged.
  • Among employees who spend up to 20% of their time remotely, 35% are engaged -- but engagement levels drop as employees spend more time off-site.

Hence, if managed appropriately, working remotely could actually yield positive results.


The Right Kind of Remote Employees


Simply put, some of us are more suited than others to work remotely.  This is especially for remote employees who have to work out of their home office 100% of the time.


In many cases, some managers would require these 100% remote employees to have a strong sense of discipline, since there is no one to watch over them, and they need to be self-disciplined enough to get the work done.


However, while discipline is indeed a key criteria for an effective remote employee or team member, here are some other factors that could be just as important, if not more important, than discipline:

  • Able to connect, coordinate and communicate with others in the organisation remotely
  • Able to take initiative and be proactive
  • Able to set clear goals and priorities
  • Able to solve problems independently


To succeed, remote employees MUST be able to work with other colleagues remotely, as their work is very likely to interact with the work of others.  Devoid of a structured environment, the remote employee would have to take initiative to reach out to others, while also know what goals and priorities she has to achieve.  Also, working alone means she may need to solve problems independently, should there be delays in getting the right support she needs.


In contrast, here are some of the “no-no”s when it comes to selecting the right person to work remotely:

  • Overly quiet and introverted

  • Does not keep others updated about what he or she is doing

  • Passive-aggressive

As mentioned earlier, the irony of working remotely is that one will actually be working with others, albeit with much lesser face-to-face interaction.  If the remote employee does not take initiative to reach out to others, other colleagues may not be able to provide the right kind of support, and eventually results get negatively affected.


Monitoring without Micro-Managing


As most of the work undertaken by remote employees and teams do not have established procedures (what we define as responsibilities as opposed to tasks), managers would have to be more skilful in monitoring them. 


Rather than monitoring too much on how the work is being done, which might lead to micro-managing, managers could emphasize more of what goals need to be achieved by the remote employee or team.


When delegating responsibilities to a remote employee, it’s critical that the person is held accountable for the results. To keep track of such goals or results, we use a CLEAR goals model as a guide:

  • Challenging/ Challenges

  • Limited by Time

  • End Objective

  • Agreed Upon/ Animated Steps

  • Required

As mentioned, the key to monitor a remote employee's work is to set such CLEAR goals with the employee, and then provide reviews if the employee is on track to achieve these goals.

Being an Effective Remote Employee Leader


As the saying goes, people join a company but leave because of their bosses.  In a way, the boss or leader of a remote employee will also have profound effects on the remote employee, as well as the expected results.

As such, the qualities of effective leaders of remote teams and employees can be summed up as follows:

  • Tireless
  • Goal-oriented
  • Encouraging
  • Approachable
  • Constructive
  • Authentic

Surprisingly, managing remote employees can be a more tiring than managing on-site ones, especially when you have multiple remote teams to manage As teams operate remotely, it will be essential to keep these remote teams stay focused on team goals.  At the same time, leaders of remote teams and employees would have to give encouragement and support when things get tough, be approachable and responsive (24 x 7, at times) when remote team members needed help and then respond as constructively as one possibly can.


On top of that, leaders of remote teams and employees need to be authentic enough, to build better rapport and trust without having a lot of face-to-face interaction.  Hence, while selecting the right person to work remotely is important, being the right kind of leader to lead remote teams and employees is just as important AND challenging too.


Need help in developing highly engaged teams and employees? Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour:  20 May 2014

How to Develop Highly Engaged Teams and Employees

  • What are the kinds of people who are the most likely to become highly engaged remote employees;
  • How to delegate and monitor the work done by your remote employees without micro-managing;
  • How to be an effective leader of remote teams and employees

VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Tuesday,  20 May 2014


TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.





To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations too


Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Tips for Sales People:
Sales Lessons from "The Wolf of Wall Street"

by c.j. Ng


If you had watched "The Wolf of Wall Street", you would know what kind of "bada**, mother****er" sales person the protagonist, Jordan Belfort, was.

You may also know that Jordan Belfort is now a very highly paid motivational speaker and sales trainer.

Now the purpose of this article is not about what we can learn from the Wolf of Wall Street.  After all, Jordan Belfort was convicted of defrauding his customers, and his high-pressure sales techniques probably will work for some people, but drive away many others.

Instead, this article is about what you can learn from the Wolf of Wall Street, and what aspects of selling you have to avoid.


“Sell Me This Pen”

Towards the end of the movie, Jordan Belfort was shown asking his audience to "sell me this pen"  (In fact, the real Jordan Belfort played the host/ announcer of this last scene).

First of all, "sell me this pen" was an interview question for sales people used in the 70's and 80's.  It's tacky and corny, and may not reflect a real-life sales situation.


However, the lesson here comes right at the front of the movie, at around 29 minutes or so, when Jordan asked Brad to sell him the pen.  Brad's response was "Can you write your name for me on the napkin", of which Jordan replied "But I have no pen", and the sale is made.


This is NOT the lesson yet.  The lesson came right after when Brad said "It's just demand and supply".  Translated into simpler sales language, you have to create the need in the customer first, in order for the customer to want to buy from you.  Merely stating the features and benefits of a product without creating or understanding customers, will not make the customer want to buy from you.


"Make Them Trust You"

Unfortunately, Jordan Belfort's intention to create trust with the customer is to eventually betray or fleece the customer.  Not only that could be illegal, it could also make you lose future sales with the customer, and will also tarnish your reputation with other customers.  Hence, fleecing customers is a no-no.

On the other hand, here are some ways that Jordan Belfort built trust with his customers:

  • Start by selling products that the customers are familiar with, in his case the blue chip stocks;
  • Create a persona (or avatar in today's terms) where you are perceived to have great knowledge and speak with authority.  In Jordan Belfort's world, that will be using big titles such as VP or SVP or a respectable-sounding company such as Stratton Oakmont.  In our real world, it will be understanding the customers'  issues such that you can provide much-needed insights for your customers;
  • Appeal to the customer's sense of fairness and logic, by using words such as "is that fair enough?"  Surprisingly, Jordan Belfort is not all about pushing the customer.  He knows how to make the customers feel as if they are in control.

Looping the Objections


One objection handling technique that Jordan Belfort uses is known as "looping".  In simpler language, what that means is that he does not get bogged down with superficial concerns that the customer raised.

Instead, he understood customers' psychology really well.  He knew that customers have certain doubts, or that something deep down (such as insufficient trust) is holding the customer back, and then worked his way to resolve those underlying issues.

More importantly, he does not get into arguments with the customer.

Ultimately, the biggest distinction that most sales people will have to make about your sales strategies and Jordan Belfort's is this: are you going to make the customer buy with just one phone call, OR do you have to deal with multiple buying influencers over a period of time to build stronger trust and understanding between both buyers and sellers?

In the world of the single-transaction sale, the Wolf of Wall Street is probably unbeatable, and that is if those techniques are used in an ethical way.  In the world of the consultative or even relationship selling, there are some techniques that we can borrow, but do be aware that many of them are not readily transferable.

To find out how you can achieve better sales results, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia.


Using the Belbin Team Role Profiling, Directions Management Consulting helps develop high performance teams and leadership at every level. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as Delphi Packard, InterContinental Hotels Group, LELO, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Kulzer Dental etc.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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