secure6 tips for managing international teams

6 tips for managing international teams

5 Oct · 4 min read

6 tips for managing international teams

The term “global village” has been extensively used recently. Advancements in technology have made it easier for companies to have global teams, now more than ever. Businesses and companies are now able to hire people despite their geographical locations. Especially in the case of IT companies, the onset of the pandemic was just the push required to switch to global teams and remote working. 

But managing a team that resides all over the world comes with its own challenges. When the team is spread across different time zones, speaks different primary languages, and follows different work ethics, it might be hard to get collaborative work done. Keeping people motivated and connected is also quite tricky. Here are a few tips to manage international teams. 

Tip 1: Build and maintain trust

With a global team, it can get difficult to build a trusting relationship with the stakeholders. By maintaining transparency about work hours, each person’s contribution towards the project, clear deadlines, comprehensive reports, etc., you can create a trusting environment among developers, project managers, investors and any other stakeholders. 

For example, during product demo meetings, developers could showcase the features they worked on in the particular sprint. Companies like Softnauts use specific software (Softnauts Operating System Client) that tracks hours spent on each project. 

Tip 2: Communicate effectively

  • Having consolidated communication channels to reach defined groups of employees easily. You can use collaborative tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams for internal communication. Make sure that the software is available on most devices, or are browser-accessible so that all team members have access to it. Tools like Zoom and Skype are excellent for video conferencing.
  • Organize frequent meetings among collaborators. Have regular daily/weekly meetings among team members so that they keep each other updated on their respective tasks. This also creates space for sharing ideas and knowledge for the tasks at hand. This keeps the teams motivated and focused on a daily basis.
  • Cut down on long or unnecessary meetings. Schedule meetings such that only relevant team members and stakeholders are involved. For longer meetings or ones that involve a larger group of employees, schedule them at least a week in advance so that the attendees can plan their work accordingly.
  • Choose convenient meeting slots that fits people’s work hours. This can be tricky with people in different time zones, especially in farther regions like US and India. The parties can choose to compromise with slightly earlier or later hours than their regular work hours, or can appoint a middle man who can facilitate meetings for individual regions.
  • Facilitate in-person collaboration, when possible or unavoidable. This might require certain colleagues to travel to other regions. If there are multiple colleagues within a city, they can occupy co-working spaces to work together. You can also invite people to visit the headquarters.

Tip 3: Make meeting information available for later use

Because of the time zone difference, it’s quite possible that not everyone is able to attend a meeting. Create meeting summaries to share with everyone after the meeting. You can also record the meetings so that people can watch them at a later time. 

Tip 4: Keep the information up-to-date

  • Use collaborative tools that are accessible to everyone. Maintain all the necessary information on these, along with the statuses of tasks and the people assigned to them. Tools like Jira, Miro, and Trello are excellent for collaborative planning.
  • Maintain updated documentation. Make basic documentation, knowledge-base links, project documentation, access links, easily available to everyone. Keep these in a safe but accessible place like Google Drive or SharePoint.

Tip 5: Embrace diversity

With a global team, there can be a lot of cultural differences among team members. Use this as an opportunity to learn about different cultures. Sharing viewpoints, ideas etc. can give you some new insights on how things are done in different parts of the world. 

Tip 6: Be respectful of personal boundaries

A virtual office can make it easy to forget that there are actual humans on the other side of the screen. Don’t forget basic interpersonal skills like being respectful to each other, being polite in emails, etc. Also, be mindful of time zone differences. Just because you’re awake on your side of the world doesn’t mean that someone else is available to work. 

Summary

Effectively managing a global team can take a lot of practice. But this also builds new skills and you’ll get to learn quite a lot. So don’t be afraid to onboard more people from diverse geographical backgrounds. 

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