Some years ago I was in Amsterdam & staying with a cousin who was head of a global team for a multinational technology organization at that time. Due to the time difference, the meetings happen according to the time of American headquarters that were not convenient for my cousin.
I was successful in witnessing each of her conversations, ranging from the real conference to little conversations in messenger chat windows as she works from a home office. There was a big politics played in the major phone conversation.
Witnessing this allow me figuring out not just the importance of communication for global teams, but also the basis on which businesses play doesn’t have meeting agenda. The balance of work after being a part of global team work out in a very personal method for a team leader that sits in her drawing room.
The concept of global teams isn’t new, but the number of challenges is increasing every year. Check out the below-mentioned 7 tips for reducing the differences that arise in a culturally & geographically diverse team.
1. Time zones navigation
It is almost impossible to find an accurate time that suits all the members of a global team. However, you can go for the tools like TimeAndDate.com that has an incredible world clock showing accurate time for all the places in the world. Additionally, it comes with a Meeting Planner tool that is very helpful in coordinating with the timing issue. Don’t forget to tell each of your team members to inform about their local time for making sure everyone become aware of the time differences before the start of the meeting.
2. Using the same software platform with each of the team members
For instance, utilizing the power of a collaborative project management tool that all the members of the team can use in their interface & then check progress & take the comments of the fellow members. The cloud-based software can be of a great choice due to your team get scattered geographically.
You should also think about the other traditional communication tools, such as utilizing the similar kind of chat tool or instant message software. Choose a popular collaboration app if shared white-boarding is vital. In order to make the process of scheduling much easier, you can think about adding a shared calendaring software.
3. Never hung up on a work technique or style
It is important to learn during the start of your life for developing a note of communication & work style for all the members. Always keep in mind that cultural norms have been influenced by these differences. Never forget that your project is not only about winning style points, it is about results.
The team members in your team are present for achieving some common goals. That’s why it is important to target how all the members can play their roles positively in a project. Never hung up on the differences & instead put emphasis on shared objectives.
4. Be judgmental regarding the cultural differences between the members of the team
These things are pretty trickier & take so much time for managing. Never think that the cultural values of your Chinese team member who speak American English will be the same as yours. It might not be difficult to cross this bridge in a fully experienced worldwide organization as they have a stronger corporate culture that allows them keeping everyone on the same kind of stage.
If you are a manager, then it will be great to research the cultural backgrounds of your team in fun methods, such as reading blogs, seeing movies, & having a talk with the individuals who are happy to share their experiences. Imagine, you are working with a person in the United Kingdom who loves food, then visit a British restaurant in your town & then have a talk with him regarding that. It is important to be sensitive & stay aware about the first step.
5. Be acknowledged about the religious & national holidays
Every country has their own holidays on different days. So, if you are a team leader, then it is pretty important to stay aware of the holidays that is immensely important for a member of your team. Additionally, keep the observances about the ones that are important for particular regions. Always keep a note of important details like how a team member get affected by a fasting holiday & which of the nation doesn’t observe the popular western holidays, such as New Year’s, Christmas, etc. You can take help of handy holidays & observance software, such as TimeAndDate.com for doing this task.
6. Never generalize, stereotype or create assumptions
You should follow this tip for the people with whom you have never met & doesn’t understand their cultures. Don’t be shy from taking an advice from a colleague or a friend who is aware of those customs during the emergence of culture-specific issues. There is a chance that you may find that there are some cultural biases in you, but never allow them to become an obstacle. You should ask questions openly if you are stumped. It will allow you to find out some amazing & useful insights all the way.
7. Talk with your team members & make them talk with each other too
Try to use the phone as much as possible. If your colleague is a silent type of person, then you might think about the electronic option. But keep one thing in mind that voice communication is far better than other methods. For instance, if your corporate headquarters is in New York & a member of team working in a home office in Japan, you should encourage him/ her to talk at least once a week. You can also think about team members working remotely with each other. You can also opt for an industry conference if you or other members of the team travels for business. You can also meet the team members in their city.