If your company has any international locations, you likely know how this can benefit your company in terms of efficiency and bringing new skillsets to the table. However, you may have also experienced some of the challenges that come with ensuring that both your domestic and international teams work well together.
Transitioning from managing a team in just one domestic location to managing multiple teams across different countries can be tricky, but it is certainly not impossible. Here are a few tips to ensure your managers are well equipped to work together from international locations while helping everyone feel like a part of the same team, regardless of where they work.
- Make a genuine effort to learn about the cultures where your other team members are located. Learning about a country’s culture can be as simple as an Internet search. Take an interest in what is important to your colleagues and teammates so they feel like an important part of the team from the beginning. Be careful of making generalizations or stereotypes based on culture, though. For example, not all Americans love to watch baseball, so don’t assume that all members of your team in a certain country will like and do the same things either.
- Be sensitive to language barriers. Remember, English may not be their first language, so try to speak slowly, clearly and avoid slang. You may also wish to create a written agenda that everyone can review prior to any meetings, record minutes of meetings and send a meeting summary afterward. It’s also good practice to check periodically to ensure everyone understands what is being discussed and that all are on the same page.
- Promote relationship building. When your team is dispersed across different countries, it can be difficult to get the employees to bod across locations. Try things like videoconferences, an intranet team page for project collaboration, or a virtual coffee room for more work-appropriate personal conversations so that team members can get to know each other better. You can also foster a healthy competition by doing fun team challenges across sites. Form the teams with employees at different locations to encourage them to get to know each other and work together as a unit.
- Be prepared to adapt. Even if your company is based outside the U.S., know that your way of approaching a problem is not necessarily the best way. Be open to ideas and suggestions from other cultures and try them out, even if they don’t seem the most conventional for you. You never know when these new ideas will help create a breakthrough for your team and company.
Despite the potential challenges, teams that are dispersed across multiple international locations can be very valuable for your company. If your managers have implemented best practices for international offices, we’d love to hear about these successes! Just comment below and let us know what has worked (or not worked!) for you!