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    Here's the February 2011 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, and it's the month of Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day and the season to change their employers for some people.


    As the saying goes, take good care of your employees, and your employees will take good care of your customers.  Conversely, if your employees or not well-taken care of, they are likely to be less engaged, not just with your customer, but also with you as an employer.  A talent that is not engaged with you, will be a talent for your competition soon.


     The definition of "taking care of employees" here does not mean that one should provide all creature comfort along with a big fat pay package.  Based on actual survey results, employees, especially younger employees, would prefer to be challenged so that they can achieve better personal growth and career development.


     Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement; and

  2. Pixar’s Secret for Delivering Tough Feedback


     This issue's main article is on  "Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement", and we will be using data and leadership insights from BlessingWhite's Employee Engagement Report 2011, with special emphasis on China.


    In brief::

  • While most people know that engaged employees take pride in their company, believe they have a promising future at their company, and go “above and beyond” their normal job duties to help their company succeed, there are companies seem to do everything possible to disengage their employees;

  • Only 17% of employees in China are engaged, and as high as 29% are disengaged, making China having the least number of engaged employees and the most number of disengaged ones in the world;

  • Despite the rising salaries and costs of hiring, Chinese employees are quite satisfied with their pay packages right now.  Rather, they need something else from their employers to rekindle their passion and commitment to their work.    Read on... ...  


    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (


    In the meantime, please feel free to check out the BlessingWhite Employee Engagement Report China Highlights


Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement

by c.j. Ng

Business Development Associate, BlessingWhite Asia Pacific



     It is now 3 months into Mandy's new job as a senior manager.  Mandy now reports directly to her General Manager, and is responsible to achieve very ambitious business and production targets.  The company has got strong financial backing and governmental connections.  On top of that, Mandy gets a fantastic pay package that is the envy of her peers.


     In the initial 3 months, Mandy went into her job with tremendous drive and enthusiasm, making as much effort as possible to learn the business and devising plans on how those ambitious targets can be achieved.  She went down to the frontlines to be with her team to work on weekends and after office hours during the peak season.  She took the initiative to bounce her ideas with her General Manager to get feedback and suggestions on how best to implement her plans to achieve those targets.  In short, Mandy was enthused  and energised to contribute as much as she possibly could to her company.   After all, Mandy is hired based on her track record to deliver results, especially results that are very challenging to achieve.


     At the end of the 3 months, Mandy decides it's time to put her plans into action.  She assembled her team and gave them an outline of what to expect in the forthcoming months, and how those ambitious targets can be achieved, although it will require a lot of hardwork and commitment from her team.  Surprisingly, she found the newer members of her team more receptive to her ideas than the more experienced ones.

     Mandy's next step is to organise some training for her staff so as to equip them with the skills to improve their performance.  Mandy has mentioned the training plans and budget to her General Manager not too long ago, and her General Manager had verbally agreed and supported her plan.


     However, when Mandy went about doing the paperwork to get her training approved, she was met with some unpleasant surprises:

  • The company policy states that if employees were to attend training programmes paid by the company, the employees would be contractually bound by the company.  If the employee leaves before the time is up, he will have to pay the full costs of the training;

  • Due to the above clause, the more experienced employees in Mandy's team refused to signed the agreement and opted out of the training, without which they will not have the skills to reach their targets;

  • In addition, Mandy got a last minute call from her Finance department stating that the budget has been "put on hold" as there wasn't 2 other quotations from "approved" vendors.  The fee quoted was also markedly higher than previous vendors engaged who were professors from reputable universities.


     As Mandy had spent a lot of time and effort selecting and evaluating suitable programmes, she felt that the programme she selected fits the needs of her team most, and although the costs are higher, it can be repaid if the business and production targets are achieved.  Conversely, Mandy is convinced that if she engaged the "cheaper" professor, the training contents will be too academic and will not help her team in achieving their goals.


     On a broader scale, Mandy is feeling rather disengaged at the moment.  She feels that her authority has been undermined by her company, and more importantly, she has been denied the opportunity to utilise her talents.  She now understands why the experienced employees in her team are disengaged and resisting her plans because they know from experience that her plans are likely to be interfered and even shot down by management.  Mandy suspects that if her training plan could be interfered in such a manner, so could be her other action plans to achieve targets.  She might be held responsible for not achieving the targets despite being denied her action plans to achieve targets.  Her new employees are demoralised too, as they found the training that will help them being "put on hold" indefinitely.  Most of all, Mandy is frustrated by the inability of her General Manager to support and defend her.


     In the meantime, Mandy's employer is very concerned about motivating their employees and retaining good talent.  The company is now working out plans to convert a portion of their staff's salaries and bonuses as stock options, so that they will get more when the stock prices increase.  Somehow, Mandy isn't very excited or enthused by this.  In fact, Mandy would like to opt out of this stock option plan, but fears that peer pressure within the organisation will make it difficult to do so.  Hence, Mandy is now looking for other career options, just 3 months into her new job.


Just How Engaged are Your Employees?

     Taking China's data from BlessingWhite's Employee Engagement Survey in 2011, it is found that:
  • China has got the world's lowest percentage of engaged employees as only 17% of employees surveyed are engaged.  The good news, though is this is an improvement over 2008, where engaged employees make up only 10% of those surveyed.

  • Even worse, China also has the world's highest proportion of disengaged employees at 29%, or almost one in three employees disengaged.  By disengaged employees, these are people who are contributing the least to their organisantional' goals and results, AND are very dissatisfied with their jobs too!

  • 16% of Chinese employees will leave their employers in the next 12 months.  More importantly though, of those that will stay, the engaged employees will stay for what they can contribute to their organisations, while the disengaged ones will stay because of what they get (such as pay increases, stock options, fancy job titles etc.)  The disengaged are not necessarily productive when they stay.


     So why all this fuss about  making employees engaged?  Even some of the most engaged employees will leave their employers eventually.  Hence, unless there are other benefits that will deliver business results, the whole idea of Employee Engagement might be overly emphasised.


     As it is, there are indeed a lot of research that demonstrates that improvements in Employee Engagement will improve business results, such as the following:

  • Highly engaged employees are 78% more productive (according to Hewitt) than disengaged ones.  They are also 7 times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident;

  • Since employees are the ones who serve customers, highly engaged employees are most likely to ensure greater customer satisfaction.  Some are even willing to go “above and beyond” their normal job duties to make sure their customers are happy.  Research from Manpower shows that 1% increase in employee satisfaction results in 2% increase in customer satisfaction;

  • According to Gallup, engaged organizations have 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth as compared non-engaged ones;

  • In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1, whereas in average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1

  • In the age of the knowledge worker, the War for Talent is raging harder than ever before.  Disengaged talents could mean your talents working for your competition.


     If the above is still not convincing enough why Employee Engagement is good for business, here's a reason why disengaged employees are bad for business.  Actively disengaged employees erode an organization's bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process. Within the U.S. workforce, Gallup estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost


How do We Engage Our Employees?


     Some companies perceive Employee Engagement to be "getting employees to work harder without increasing their pay"  (See for details).  While money may not be the primary factor in improving engagement, employees will definitely be disengaged if they feel manipulated.  According to the BlessingWhite Employee Engagement survey, the Top 3 drivers of Employee Satisfaction are:

  • Career development opportunities and training

  • More opportunities to do what I do best

  • More challenging work


     At the same time, the Top 3 drivers to make employees contribute more towards organisational goals are:

  • Regular, specific feedback about how I'm doing

  • Development opportunities and training

  • Greater clarity about what the organization needs me to do - and why.


     In addition, the top 2 reasons why employees will stay on in the next 12 despite the presence of other opportunities elsewhere are:

  1. My work.  I like the work that I do (30%)

  2. My career.  I have significant development or advancement opportunities here (24%)

     Come to think of it, if we spend most of our waking hours at work, we would logically want it to be a place where we are happy, and where we can achieve personal and career growth.  Conversely, few people would want to stay long in a job where the pay is great, but the job sucks and there's no future.


     The top 5 reasons why employees intend to leave their companies in the next 12 months are:

  1. My career. I don't have opportunities to grow or advance here  (28%)

  2. My work. I don't like what I do or it doesn't make the most of my talents  (16%)

  3. My finances. I want to earn more money  (14%)

  4. My desire for change. I want to try something new  (12%)

  5. My manager. I don't like working for him or her  (10%)


     While the money factor ranks high at No. 3, employees still consider the lack of career advancement and the inability to make use of one's talent (英雄无用武之地)as bigger reasons why they are leaving.  In fact, some employees may feel that the reason that they are not making enough money now is because their boss does not give them the opportunity to do what they are good at, and advance their careers!


The Challenge for Executives, Managers and the Individual


     If you are a manager or executive hiring younger employees, there are several things in the new hiree's mind which may come as a shock to those used to managing older employees.  Younger employees will like to find out:

  • When can I replace you in your position?  (我什么时候能将你取而代之?);

  • How can my talents be utilised fully, and what level of autonomy can I get?; or

  • If I can come up with better ways to get the job done, I expect you to listen to me.


     To most managers, younger Gen Y employees seem to be just impossible to manage.  And that's true.  Gen Y employees CANNOT be managed.  They must be inspired and excited instead.  They need leaders who can develop their talents and make them grow, and only then will they be enthused and "in gear" with you.  And only when they can take over your current position, can you then move to greater heights.


     Having said that though, Employee Engagement is a 2-way street, and individuals will have to bear part of the responsibility too.  Many a time, an individual is being enticed by big pay packages to join a company, only to find that it's NOT the job they like, career development is limited, and they could not get along with their boss and colleagues.  Individuals will need to think what they would like to do in 3-5 years' time, and then work backwards to determine what they need to do now, so as to realise their career development plans in the future.  They will also need to do more research on prospective employers to make sure there's a good fit between what the employer wants, and what could make them happy.


     Need help in improving engagement levels of your employees (and yourself)?  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: 16 March 2011
Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement


     Join International leadership, innovation and sales force effectiveness consultant c.j. Ng in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where you will find out:

  • Why engaged employees will deliver exceptional customer satisfaction, productivity and talent retention, and why disengaged ones will erode profits and demoralise others;

  • What are the factors that affect Employee Engagement, and what you can do to improve it even when you don't pay the highest salary in your industry;

  • The challenges that face individuals, managers and executives, and how Employee Engagement is the responsibility of everyone involved.


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: Wednesday, 16 March 2011

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 to 


     You can also download our Power Breakfast Hour video on Using the Six Thinking Hats to Win More Sales and Get More Customers Part 3.


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


Need a Keynote Speaker for your Annual Conference?


     Whether you are holding a conference for your regional staff, resellers or even customers, we have the right speaker who can help you deliver the spirit of your conference, and effect positive changes to meet your goals.r goals.r goals.r goals.r goals.r goals.


     The topics our speakers can speak on include:


    • Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent
      Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement

    • Using the Six Thinking Hats to Win More Sales and Get More Customers

    • Why Some Sales People Succeed While Others Fail?;

    • How to Lure Away Your Competitors' Key Accounts, and Make Them Buy from You Instead?;

    • Improving Sales Productivity by Motivating the Sales Force;

    • Sun Tzu and the Art of Strategic Decision Making;

    • The End of Guanxi as We Know It!; and many more!


     Simply e-mail your requests to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries.  Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.


Practical Tips for Managers:

Pixar’s Secret for Delivering Tough Feedback


By Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ


If you have kids, you know Pixar (the animation studio that made Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, A Bug’s Life, and more). By any measure, they’re amazingly successful; kids love their movies, their films have grossed more than $6 billion, and they’ve won 24 Academy Awards.  But that’s not what makes Pixar extraordinary. Here’s what does: Their movies never flop.  Most filmmakers — even hugely successful ones — have a dud here and there. Not Pixar.  And we’ve identified one of their keys to success that can be applied to your organization: Learn how to give brutally honest feedback.

At Pixar, when a director hits a snag on a film, they immediately call in the “brain trust.”  This is a group of brilliant senior filmmakers who come in, look at the film in progress and give brutally honest feedback for about two hours.  As President Ed Catmull says, “it’s far better to learn about problems when there’s still time to fix them than from the audience after it’s too late.”

Now, don’t think the brain trust is the “secret” mentioned in the title of this article; it’s not.  There’s another critical piece.  Because if having a ‘brain trust’ rip apart your ideas sounds painful, surprisingly, it isn’t at Pixar.  At most companies it would be gut-wrenching, but Pixar discovered an incredible technique that makes the process both productive and painless.

At first, they didn’t understand their own secret.  The brain trust was working great, but when they tried to export the concept to areas beyond directors and producers (like technical areas), it flopped.  Instead of breakthrough innovation, they got bruised egos, defensiveness, even anger.

Why didn’t the brain trust work in other areas?  What was the “secret” that allowed directors to receive brutally honest feedback without feeling angry or defensive?  Simple: The brain trust has no authority.  There are no mandatory notes, and the brain trust has no authority over the person to whom they’re giving feedback.  The people receiving feedback are the only ones responsible for making a great movie, so they’re under no obligation to take the feedback.  And here’s the crazy psychological twist: Because they’re under no obligation to take the feedback, of course, they take a lot of it.

Removing formal authority, losing the hierarchical relationships, liberates both the giver and receiver of feedback.  No matter how tough the feedback is, if you remove the power dynamics, the typical problems with defensiveness, anger, etc., immediately dissipate.

If I tell my kids to eat their green beans, they’ll fight me every step of the way.  But if I shut up and just leave them alone, they’ll eat them all.  They love green beans.  But if I make it a power struggle, they’ll stop eating them just to exert control.  The exact same thing happens in professional situations.  Make it a power struggle, and people will ignore your feedback.  But remove the forced obligation, and they’ll be thrilled to take your ideas.

The Entrepreneurs Organization and the Young Presidents Organization have made the same discovery.  These are two of the most elite networks for business owners and CEOs, with thousands of members around the globe.  At the heart of both groups is a monthly meeting with about 10 members called “forum.”  (In any city, there could be dozens of forums meeting each month).  During forum, the members present challenges they’re facing, and their peers offer their thoughts.

But here’s the trick: They don’t offer advice; they offer experience.  When a CEO is presenting a problem, the other CEOs’ natural inclination is to tell them what to do (that’s a common personality trait for executives).  If you hear a friend tell you about a problem, it’s human nature to respond with “what you should do is…”

However, there’s a problem with telling CEOs — or anyone for that matter — what to do: They get defensive.  If you say “what you should do is…” they’re likely to reply “but that won’t work because…”  And that’s a giant red flag of defensiveness (which ultimately leads to anger and damaged relationships — not solutions).  So instead, these CEOs discovered that when they don’t say “you should do…” and instead say “what I did was…” the power dynamic is removed and the walls of defensiveness crumble.

By sharing only their own experiences — good, bad or mixed — and not their advice, they remove any obligation on the recipient’s part to do anything with the feedback.  Just like at Pixar, it removes the power dynamic.  The recipients are not under attack, they’re not being disparaged, and they’re not having their arms twisted.  And because they’re free from obligation, their minds are open to hearing their peers’ new and wonderful ideas.

When you get really smart people sharing their best ideas, and you get everyone else listening to those ideas, you will have an amazingly innovative culture.  Like Pixar, you’ll fix problems long before they lead to a flop.

Leadership IQ has an upcoming webinar called 5 Secrets of Truly Innovative Cultures.  In it, I’ll be sharing innovation best practices from Pixar, Google, Apple, Kaiser Permanente, the Cleveland Clinic, and others.  If you want your employees to give you brilliant ideas and solve your toughest problems, you need to attend this webinar.


If you would like to get more and better ideas how to give feedback such that the recipient is receptive to your ideas, you can e-mail info@directions-consulting.comm or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001



Sales... ....the lifeblood of a company, a matter of "life and death", survival or extinction.  Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently.


Yet today,

  • many companies still don't have a coherent approach as to how they can generate more sales and achieve better margins;

  • many sales people are still lying to their customers so that they can meet their targets at the end of the month;

  • many customers are still waiting ethical and professional sales people to help them find out their real needs, and provide solutions that work


Psyche-Selling TM is set up so that companies and sales people can make healthy profits and STILL provide genuine solutions to customers.


Psyche-Selling TM would like to create an environment where customers can trust sales people to give them what they want, and NOT be pushed with all kinds of products and services.  In return, customers will become loyal fans of these ethical and professional sales people, and repay them many fold for the long-term.


Psyche-Selling TM will not rest, until the above is achieved.  Not just in China. Not just in Asia.  But everywhere where buying and selling takes place.


Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team.  Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.


Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such.  We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail or visit



Mailing Address: Shui Cheng Nan Road 51 Lane No. 9 Suite 202 Shanghai 201103 Chinaa