As the years go on, we are seeing more and more companies go global. Nowadays, employees can be connected with the click of a button, and talk in real time, thousands of miles apart. With today’s reality and technologies, more companies are heading towards a worldwide approach to gain a competitive advantage through diversity and local expertise. And, if nothing else, someone’s always awake.
Leading a global team requires stellar leadership and effective communication skills coupled with dynamic cultural awareness. Deliberate effort is required to communicate and motivate a global team impactfully.
Leading a global team comes with great challenges, such as different time zones, cultural differences, work habits, language barriers. But overcoming these barriers is essential in today’s global business era. Read on to learn how you can be set up for success when leading your international team.
Have a firm grasp of the cultural composition of your team.
Understanding other cultures are important. For example, certain phrases or hand gestures may be perfectly fine in one culture, while they are seen as rude or offensive in another. Before welcoming a new team member or interacting with someone from a different culture, take a few minutes to research and check what’s appropriate and what’s not. And when in doubt, eer on the side of caution.
Create a communication policy.
To avoid overload of information across various communication platforms, it is essential to have about two to three communication platforms whose usage is detailed in a communication policy, i.e., these communication platforms specify when, why, and how to use them to accomplish work objectives. For instances, you may only use Microsoft Teams for meetings and non-essential communication. All information that may need to be referenced later should take place over email.
Build a community.
Try your best to build community across the timezones. Leveraging technology usage to foster collaboration and ongoing communication across different time zones nurtures and expands empowerment across the teams. Try to schedule team calls for times that fit for everyone, and where you can’t, give each time zone a turn burning the midnight oil.
This inevitably creates a sense of belonging for all the team members, as each team member feels seen, heard, and welcomed.
This is usually achieved through deliberate moments, such as having informal sessions to share what is going on around you or with you before the meeting starts. Schedule “Office Hour” style meetings with your team that have zero agenda beyond asking questions and receiving transparent answers. Where you can, be as honest as possible with your team and empathize with their challenges.
Get out of your comfort (and time!) zone more often.
To lead a global team, a leader must be very flexible. Getting out of your comfort zone includes the wiliness to experiment with different time zones. Frequently check up on the team members, asking questions and keeping open communication to cultivate understanding, and more importantly, patience.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.