An international team can be great because you may be working with people who know the local partners and are experts in their culture. And also because they give you an “on call” resource 24/7. In spite of that, it can be challenging to work in an international team because of differences in culture, language and time zones. And it’s also more difficult to work together on content when you are collaborating with people who are far away.
When a global team is working well, each person sees the benefit personally and professionally, and businesses are able to be more competitive in new markets. We give you some best practices that should help to get your international team on the same page:
Communicate goals and expectations clearly
It’s important that each team member understands what results are expected of them and that they agree to a timeline. No assumptions can be made about how everyone is spending their time. Using Google Spreadsheets is a very good way to share goals in a place that everyone is able to update.
Schedule in-person meetings as early and often as possible
I was amazed at how much better I was able to work with our team after meeting them personally and having an opportunity to get to know them socially. This is the most important thing you can do to pave the way for a working situation that cuts down on miscommunications and makes everyone feel more motivated and connected. After the trip, connecting online through social networking sites like Facebook helps keep the relationship strong.
Schedule meetings sensitively
Meetings, team or one-on-one, should rotate times so that they are doable for each team member, or at least in a way so no one experiences more inconvenience than anyone else. When you work on a global team, there will be moments that you will have to work outside of a traditional 9-5 schedule. But try to make that an exception rather than a norm.
Be careful to listen for cultural insights
Ask your coworkers to inform you when their holidays are, what hours they usually work, how they prefer to communicate with you, and how the company can present itself in the best light locally. Try to learn as much as possible about the local culture, and encourage your team to actively train you in the best ways to cooperate with them.
Leverage technology for cooperation
Create a knowledge base where you can share materials, Q&A, and reporting documents. Get everybody on the same IM provider and make sure they download it to their phone also. Use video for calls and meetings whenever possible so that every team member stays focused and to make them more personal.
Global teams that are managed effectively and sensitively, can make a big difference in a competitive marketplace. Following these best practices will give you a head start in building a team that works together seamlessly, and that brings forward new opportunities that will benefit everyone.