Working with people from all around the globe is not a foreign concept anymore (pun unintended). As companies continue to expand their global workforce, team diversity is a certainty. As progressive as working with global teams is, international teams come with their fair share of complexities. From communication problems to complications due to different time-zones, working with multicultural teams has its own set of benefits and setbacks.
Being in-charge of an international team requires one to develop a sense of team unity and strengthen workforce effectiveness. Here are five tips to help you manage international teams.
When your team members are dispersed in different locations around the globe, you need to build a solid plan for project management. Without proper governance, team members will end up wasting their time and energy on inconsequential tasks. When you are assigned an international team, your first priority should be to plan, coordinate and set procedures in place. Implement tools which facilitate your management and track the work of your team members so everyone is aware of their role.
Just because one of your team members didn't openly disapprove your suggestion it doesn't mean that they approve your method either. It can just mean that they didn't want to come across as impolite or rude. In every country, 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe' can have its own connotations. Instead of jumping to conclusions, ask your team members what they think. Frequent communication is the simplest way to understand people and avoid assumptions.
Trust is an essential part of all relationships. While engaging with someone who is physically present eases the exercise, but to build it with someone sitting thousands of miles away takes effort. Hence, constantly emphasize on your teams, even yours, engagement with foreign partners or team members.
Allow international travel
As the team leader of an international team, coax your company's CEO to set aside a budget for international travel. Every once or twice a year, pick a location where all your team members can gather and get to know each other face-to-face. This will go a long way in helping them better understand each other and building a relation based on mutual trust and respect.
No matter how dispersed your team is, as a team leader, you need to come up with different engagement strategies to create momentum and have fun. Start by creating an online community on a social networking site. Do some fun team exercises on different locations and tie the locations together through video conferencing. Doing this will help each team member realize what others bring to the table.
Managing global teams comes with its own set of unique challenges. Hopefully, the abovementioned tips help to build trust and teamwork no matter what the location of each of your team members is.