For many larger organisations, global teams and working across different time zones are commonplace. But thanks to the pandemic, more and more companies have had to get to grips with remote working and managing teams spread out across various locations.
Successfully managing a global team requires exemplary communication and leadership skills — not to mention a heightened awareness of cultural nuances. Taking multiple teams from different countries and uniting them together as one can be incredibly complex, so here are our seven top tips for effectively managing a team on a global scale…
1. Hire strong regional leaders
No one can be in two places at once, so for business owners and managers overseeing multiple jurisdictions, it’s crucial to have a network of trusted regional leaders.
These leaders act as the eyes and ears on the ground and filter messages from senior management through to the staff in their region, becoming the cultural touchstones for each location.
2. Nail the onboarding process
Developing a successful team starts with a good onboarding experience. But managing a remote, international workforce can create additional layers of complexity when bringing on recruits.
As such, leadership teams should identify and appoint mentors who can act as cultural ambassadors and assist with assimilation, helping new employees understand the company’s values and ways of working.
3. Find a common language
Global companies consist of lots of people from all over the world, often speaking a broad range of languages. On the one hand, this can be a huge advantage: a multilingual workforce can facilitate sales and customer service in several languages, helping to reach a wider audience. On the other hand, it can make internal communications difficult. As a result, many international organisations choose a common language to establish a means of communication for all team members.
However, it’s important to remember that employees will have varying levels of language proficiency, so managers must be aware of these imbalances and intervene when necessary. For instance, they might call on those who are less fluent during meetings to ensure their voices are heard or ask native speakers to talk more slowly.
4. Consider cultural differences
Social norms, customs and working styles vary worldwide, so when teams are comprised of individuals from various countries, it’s essential to take cultural differences into account. For example, employees might perceive organisational hierarchy and seniority differently, making them more or less inclined to contribute their ideas and opinions during meetings. National holidays will also vary from country to country, so it’s important to be aware of how this might impact workflows or projects.
To stamp out cultural biases and create a flexible working environment, managers should encourage open and inclusive dialogue about business practices and cultural differences. They may also need to make allowances according to region.
5. Work around time zones
One of the most challenging parts of managing a global team is working around time zones. Depending on where employees are located, there can be a wide disparity in time zones, making it difficult to meet (either virtually or in-person) and collaborate.
Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to find a meeting time for everyone in a team that’s spread all over the globe. So, it’s crucial to be aware of the time differences within the team and try to find a set weekly time to catch up that works for everyone.
6. Make the most of technology
The past year has seen a massive uptake in technologies such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack. And for good reason! These tools make remote working much easier and are ideal for global teams looking to improve their communication and productivity.
In addition to these video conferencing and messaging tools, it may also be worth implementing other tools to facilitate project management and document collaboration so that global teams can easily communicate and work together — no matter where in the world they are.
7. Check in frequently
When everyone’s busy, it can be easy to neglect real-time conversation in favour of sending a quick email. But working remotely can be incredibly lonely, so sometimes it’s necessary to pick up the phone and check in with employees.
To maintain clear lines of communication and build trust among team members, it may also be worth scheduling mandatory in-office days (when restrictions allow) and opting to host regular meetings via videoconferencing.