● Global teams benefit everyone
● Geographical and cultural diversity can present some challenges
● Help team members to work together by embracing their backgrounds
More and more companies and organizations are finding their workforce expanding to include talented individuals around the world. Instead of simply pulling from local job seekers, the internet and telecommunication options are making long-distance employment an accessible option. But with this new style of work team come additional challenges.
What does a global team mean for you?
The most obvious characteristic of a global team is in the name – a global team is global, meaning people from many different countries, backgrounds and viewpoints are coming together to work and collaborate. In many cases, it may be preferable to have this level of global expansion in your workforce. Different cultures and viewpoints can be hugely beneficial in creating new ideas and developing new projects.
It opens up your organization to a more diverse pool of people bringing their talents to the table. There can also be personality challenges, communication challenges, and difficulties in keeping projects on track. Suddenly you have to be aware of how cultural differences lead to misunderstandings and there may be a sense of disconnection, especially if your team works together virtually. Navigating this environment can be intimidating, but with a few key points of focus, you will be able to see all the benefits of having a global team.
Because a global team is often working together virtually rather than face-to-face, communication is even more important. Everyone has had the experience of sending or receiving an email that is taken in the wrong way or doesn’t address certain questions a person might have. It can quickly lead to frustration and conflict. To avoid some of those communication pitfalls, take advantage of virtual meeting places and video chats or conference calls.
Gathering, even virtually, can help your team avoid communication pitfalls and keep everyone on the same page. If there is a miscommunication, address it immediately and find out where the disconnect happened. If you don’t identify what the problem was, there is no hope for resolving it in the future.
Even in the same country, people with different backgrounds will approach interpersonal problems and collaborative projects differently. These differences can become more pronounced when you have people from a variety of countries and cultures. It can be helpful to learn about each other’s cultures. Understanding how someone naturally approaches different situations can help everyone to better work together. If one of your team members comes from a culture that is more direct and to the point, they may come across as harsh to another team member from a more casual culture. The more your team members understand each other, the more you bridge that gap between what a person is intending to communicate and how it is being received.
Everyone has a bad day at work and there will always be times where a person falls short. That might be in how they interact with another employee or by letting a task fall through the cracks. No matter what the mistake is, it is essential for a global team to stay accountable for their shortcomings. Because this type of workforce is often working virtually, a huge amount of trust is placed in each person.
Emphasizing to your team the importance of owning their mistakes will help to produce a culture of acceptance, tolerance and accountability. One way to set the standard for accountability is by setting the example. Be quick to own up to your own mistakes, not just point out another’s. As your team sees you respecting them by staying accountable, they will follow suit and you will have the reassuring feeling of trusting them.
Some of the most effective teams are the ones that know each other well and spend time together. Team building is important in every setting, but in a global team where many of your team members will be isolated from the rest of them, team building will play a big role in helping your team all feel connected and unified. Working with a global team offers unique opportunities for this, like sharing recipes from the different countries represented in your team or showing what the different cities look like. Get creative and ask for input from the members of your team. If they feel like their opinion and ideas are valued, they will stay invested in the opportunity to get to know each other better.
Above all, working in a team requires effort from all parties. That is even more true while you’re working with a diverse group of personalities and voices separated by distance. This is another time your example will have an enormous impact. If a team member says a phrase in their native language, ask what it means and have them teach it to you. Be aware of different issues they may be experiencing in their country or state. By staying engaged with your team members
from around the world, you will help them to feel comfortable coming to you with their ideas and their concerns. Staying positive, friendly, and open to new people and new ideas will enrich your work life and positively impact your personal life.