How to Engage and Motivate Your Local Staff as a Foreign Employer in Vietnam
Maintaining employee engagement is among the challenges that employers will always face in dealing with their staff – particularly if you’re a manager based in another country. There is an extra layer of cultural differences in the mix that you need to consider if you want a harmonious working relationship with your employees.
In Vietnam, understanding and adapting to the nuances of their culture will serve as a solid foundation to help you connect with your local staff. Not only will they appreciate the sincerity of your efforts to relate to them, but this will also help you to know how to motivate them and keep them engaged. Here are some tips to guide you:
Let’s start with this essential concept that’s actually quite common in most Asian cultures. “Face” refers to the person’s dignity or reputation. Treating your Vietnamese staff with respect reflects the “keeping face” tradition. You must cultivate a working environment where they do not feel insulted, embarrassed and disrespected. Some would rather remain silent with their disagreement so as not to lose face. Be mindful of your Vietnamese employees’ expressions as this will indicate if you’ve crossed the line of disrespecting them by mistake.
You can help “build face” by giving due credit to your staff when appropriate. Make them feel valuable by expressing your sincere appreciation for their work. If your staff commits an error, discuss it with them politely and privately to avoid “losing face” in front of others. If they hold themselves accountable for it, acknowledge their effort for doing so to help them “save face”. Keep your word by delivering on your promises. Maintaining integrity and humility is crucial in keeping face, for both you and the staff.
Respect traditional customs
Most Vietnamese traditions are rooted in their Confucian beliefs and respect for their ancestors. Applying certain customs in the workplace will help your staff feel more at ease, and you’ll earn their respect and loyalty as well. For example, their high regard for seniority is a significant aspect of their culture. It is important that you give the same level of respect accordingly, in terms of age, company rank, or years of experience. For instance, make your introduction to the most senior Vietnamese colleague or introduce them first in a meeting.
The week-long celebration of the Lunar New Year or Tết is the most significant holiday in Vietnam. During this time, the Vietnamese conduct preparations prior to the New Year and perform various rituals and practices throughout the week. Give them time off to be with their families and loved ones during this holiday. On your end, you can participate in local events, whenever appropriate. This shows that you’re an employer who respects their customs, and they will feel more motivated to work for you.
Establishing relationships is an important element in Vietnamese business culture. Start your initial meeting with your staff by getting to know each other. You can mention your personal background and enquire about theirs, as it helps to build mutual trust before proceeding to business matters.
Always find time to continue nurturing a respectful, personal relationship between you and your staff. This can be the foundation of a productive and professional partnership. Encourage team-bonding activities, whether in the office or after work. Give them a safe space to express their issues, be attentive to their concerns, and commit to provide assistance whenever possible. These are perfect opportunities to learn and understand more about your staff beyond their roles in the office.
Bridge the communication gap
As a foreign manager, it’s no surprise that you might experience challenges in this department, even if English is the primary language used in global business. Vietnam continues to build on its proficiency level. English grammar and vocabulary are taught as a compulsory subject starting from the third grade. Most Vietnamese staff are already trained to speak in English while working for multinational companies and in corporate settings.
Beyond the language barrier, it’s more important to ensure open communication with them. Emails and online messaging platforms are fine, but it is advisable that you schedule regular meetings at least once a week to touch base with them. With pandemic restrictions easing up, face-to-face interaction – subject to health and safety protocols — adds more depth in communicating and relating with your team and vice-versa.
Your employees look up to you for direction and guidance, so it’s crucial that you get your message across to them clearly. At the same time, establish sufficient platforms for them to communicate with you to further inspire engagement and, ultimately, promote job satisfaction in the workplace.
Talent sourcing consultancy in Vietnam
The Talent Consultants stands out among the head-hunting firms in Vietnam for providing industry-leading recruitment services for multinational organisations. Our edge is your biggest benefit: you’ll have wider access to a rich talent pool from the Southeast Asian region. As a trusted recruitment agency in Vietnam, we conduct a meticulous screening process so you’ll get the best candidates for particular job positions in your company, whether for junior roles or C-suite level.
We also provide free online resources for employers on how to manage their remote staff. If you would like to know more about our recruitment and talent consultancy services, you can get in touch with us on +84 28 7309 7991 or book a free consultation here so we can discuss your talent sourcing needs.