At my company, we spend our time helping other companies scale internationally, which means that we end up working with a lot of international teams. It doesn’t hurt that our own team has been international since 2016. We have people from Australia, the Philippines, the United States, India and Jamaica in our core group and others from the US, UK, Vietnam, France, Singapore and Dubai in our satellite team. The experience of working with people from all around the world has taught us so much about how to create a happy, productive global team. Here are six tips on making your global team a success, starting today.
- Realise that everyone has their own lens
It’s easy to feel as though everyone should look at the world the same way you do … and that your perspective is the ‘right’ one. But the truth is that each culture sees the world slightly differently … and no-one is 100% right. As you start working with people from other countries and cultures, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that people will have different views and ways of doing things … and that is ok. Being able to separate yourself from your own perspective and realise that it is just a perspective is the cornerstone of connecting with and understanding people from different places and cultures
- Stand in the other person’s shoes
If you’re working with colleagues overseas, putting yourself in their shoes builds trust, loyalty and momentum. Perhaps you have team members working alone or at home day in, day out, especially if they are freelancers or the Covid pandemic has kept them from gathering with others. Recognise how long-term solitude might affect their mindset and productivity. Find ways to engage them and to connect them with your team at company headquarters.
Will a 9am meeting for you mean a 4am start for colleagues overseas? Take time zones into consideration when you set meetings and schedules to make sure that your international team members aren’t being subjected to inhumane hours on a regular basis. When you make the effort to stand in your international colleagues’ shoes and adjust things to benefit them, you get engaged, productive team players, rather than folks who feel isolated and demotivated.
- Make sure your team is equipped to do their job
It sounds basic, but make sure that your offshore team members have everything they need to do their work, including the right tools and environment. I know a business owner who recently realised that his VA in the Philippines had been working eight hours a day sitting on her bed in her bedroom because Covid restrictions meant she couldn’t go to her office. He organised to have a desk chair sent to her house, so that she’d be able to sit comfortably while working.
- Meet daily
I can’t stress this enough. It’s no good connecting with your international colleagues once a week, or once a month. Out of sight is out of mind … you’ll struggle to build camaraderie and momentum that way. On the other hand, there is nothing like a snappy daily meeting, with people showing up on video from all over the world to produce momentum and a sense of purpose. The meeting doesn’t need to take long, it just needs a purpose, opportunities for people to share, and action points. We theme our daily meetings and have slots for measuring metrics, celebrating wins and thinking through challenges.
- Leverage technology
As well as video calls, there are many pieces of great tech available that make collaborating across continents a snap. We use Slack for instant messaging to groups and individuals, and Trello for workflow planning. With these two tools plus Zoom, we are able to keep everyone focused on our top projects for the month and their most important tasks for the week and the day.
- Celebrate community and diversity
Diversity is beautiful and research confirms that diverse teams are the most successful (when they work well). I love seeing the rainbow of faces in my team. You can strengthen your team’s bond by highlighting and celebrating diversity. We do this by getting people to share stuff about their home cities, traditions and lives during team meetings, and you can also do this by celebrating national holidays, virtually or in person.
Written by Cynthia Dearin.
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