Global Teams (that work)
Multinational organizations have had to learn quickly how to do business in a new way. Gone are the days of local monocultural teams working independently. Global teams are now the norm with employees from many cultures coming together virtually and physically to work towards a common goal.
While many organizations have quickly adopted global working, they have not all necessarily provided the support and training to ensure that global team working actually works. Read on and discover Inlea’s top tips for making a global team work.
Share a common software platform with all team members: For example, use collaborative project management software that everyone on the team can access on their own timeframe, and then track progress and follow comments of team members. Because your team is scattered geographically, cloud-based software makes sense.
Standardize on other basic communication tools as well, like using the same instant message software or chat tool. If shared white-boarding is important, pick a common collaboration app.
One-on-one virtual coffee dates: Scheduling one-on-one time between colleagues for the purpose of building relationships is a must. After all, good relationships build a strong team, and a strong team grows and succeeds together. When working remotely, a team member might become isolated from the team, and people might rush off after calls to get more work done. Scheduling coffee dates helps bridge those gaps. In addition, these dates help relieve stress employees might be holding on to from working remotely.
Give your team a compelling purpose: To be effective, especially in a geographically dispersed context, everyone on your team needs to be on the same page. It’s also critical to make people feel connected and affiliated to the team, especially in virtual global teams where the “us” vs. “them” dynamic across geographies is so prevalent. And for that reason, it’s especially critical to provide the team with a purpose that is clear (specific and measurable), challenging (a stretch, but something attainable, given the resources and personnel), and consequential (the purpose matters and is relevant to all team members). A compelling purpose can be the glue that binds together your team, and pushes everyone in the same direction towards your common goal.
Address negative conflict immediately: On a global team, conflict is inevitable and actually especially challenging to manage. Lag times in communication let conflict fester. People can be less restrained in virtual interactions. And critical conversations are more challenging at a distance. For these reasons, it’s critical as a leader for you to not let interpersonal conflict fester. Be proactive. Act as a mediator and, when necessary, be ready to have an honest group discussion or confidential side conversations, depending on the situation.
In the end, global teams have tremendous potential for operating successfully across cultures and borders, but only if managed thoughtfully by a leader who anticipates challenges and addresses them proactively.