There are three key concepts of face. Giving Face, losing face, and saving face. In this video, I talk about giving face.

Giving face is a cultural concept originated in China. It can and should be an integral part of building relationships and motivating your team whether you work locally or around the globe. You can give face to coworkers by giving positive recognition, showing appreciation, solicit someone’s input, and listen. Acknowledge their contribution. Show respect for hierarchy, age, and status. The act of giving face lifts people up, builds their confidence, and strengthens your relationship with them.

As an executive coach, I have a unique vantage point on what goes on inside companies and the brains of the people leading them. Working with clients one-on-one as they navigate major conflicts gives me a deep understanding of their motivation. Whether they’re in Singapore or Kansas, I’ve found that knowledge workers share certain characteristics.

As Daniel Pink pointed out in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” the traditional workplace carrots of pay and promotion only go so far. Creativity and genuine appreciation go a long way when it comes to motivating knowledge workers. Studies have shown that among knowledge workers the main reasons people leave jobs are lack of recognition, lack of involvement, and poor management. Money is rarely the issue. Giving face has worked wonders for many leaders. For example. Number one, get creative about public recognition.

get creative about public recognition1. Get creative about public recognition. Years ago I worked with a senior leader at a California company who wanted to motivate his management team but didn’t have the budget to hand out raises. He noticed that people who came into his office always commented on a jar of rocks on his desk which he had picked up running on a nearby beach. One day he had an idea of giving them as gifts. When a member of his team did a great job on something, he would write a thank-you note, and include one of the beach rocks from his collection. These unique and highly personal tokens began to take on an almost mythic status among his employees. If you got one of his rocks you had really done something special.

2. Allow flexible working hours. When I walked into the office of Alibaba Group, the Chinese online retailer, I was struck by the colorful camping tents set up between desks. And I learned that during busy periods workers sleep in them. At many American tech companies, it’s not uncommon to hear of employees leaving the office at 8:00 in the morning after working all night. Given the demands of corporate life in the competitive environment, give employees the opportunity to choose their hours as long as they get their work done.

3. Ask them to mentor, coach or teach. Asking someone to mentor a new hire is a signal that he or she is a valued company ambassador capable of conveying the company’s cultural and core values. Asking one employee to coach another has to be done sensitively. It won’t work so well if they’re competitors, for example. But done right, it can prove as inspiring to the coach as the person getting coached. At one company I worked with, a leader created lunchtime learning sessions. Employees with a particular expertise would teach a workshop to his or her peers. Those votes of confidence go a long way towards retaining smart, dedicated employees.

4. Add challenge and visibility. For highly skilled workers, being asked to do something more challenging is a special distinction. If you see an employee lagging, try upping the game with a harder task or a presentation in front of upper management to give them more exposure.

5. Offer face time with a senior leader. Many workers wonder if the senior leadership notices their efforts, or whether they’re simply gears in a corporate machine. A breakfast or coffee with the CEO or a senior executive can reassure workers that their contributions are valued and recognized at the highest level.

Remember, there’s five ways to give face. Number one, get creative about public recognition. Number two, allow flexible working hours. Number three, ask them to mentor, coach, or teach. Number four, add challenge and visibility. Number five, offer face time with a senior leader.

Saving FaceMy book, Saving Face illustrates how we can honor face to create positive first impressions, avoid causing others to lose face, and, most importantly, help others save face to build trust and lasting relationships inside and outside the workplace.

Click here to watch the video.

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