How to Work Effectively with Global Teams

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    Although global teams are not a new concept, businesses of all sizes are increasingly working with employees across time zones and borders. Post-pandemic, remote and hybrid work have become the norm, making it more feasible for many companies to hire talent in locations where they don’t have a physical office. 

    Global teams offer a wide range of potential benefits, including greater innovation and higher market share. But managers of global teams also have plenty of challenges to navigate, from language barriers to cultural differences to time zone hurdles. 

    Fostering a successful, collaborative environment for a global team takes time and effort–but it’s well worth it, especially when it leads to greater knowledge sharing across your organization. We’re sharing x tips on how to work effectively with global teams.

    Clearly Communicate Goals and Expectations

    Communication is essential to leading an effective global team—especially when it comes to project management and setting objectives. It’s vital everyone understands what’s expected and agrees to a timeline. No one should have to assume how they or their colleagues are spending their time or which items are a top priority.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can help facilitate good communication across every stage of a project. For example, messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams allow team members to chat about project priorities or blockers in real time, project management tools like Asana and let people track their tasks and progress towards shared goals, and knowledge management platforms like Bloomfire give teams a place to share finalized content and engage with their colleagues’ completed work.

    Embrace Asynchronous Work

    Some team members will be working the same hours while others may be ending their workday as their coworkers are just signing on. By adopting an asynchronous collaboration approach, you can keep projects and deliverables moving forward without requiring team members to log on early in the morning or late at night. Get creative with the tools you use: for example, you might share screen or voice recordings, or use a digital whiteboard tool, to give everyone a chance to weigh in on a decision or brainstorming session without requiring a real-time meeting.

    If team members do have an ad-hoc call or in-person conversation, encourage them to share details of that communication via collaboration platforms. This way, everyone is on the same page, even if they’re not in the same geographic location.

    Establish a Schedule to Talk With the Entire Team

    While taking an asynchronous-first approach to collaboration is best for global teams, there will still be times when getting your team to meet in real time can add value or simply be more efficient. Depending on time zones, you may need to make team-wide meetings a rare occurrence, but you shouldn’t forego them entirely. After all, employees need face time to bond, build rapport, collaborate, and share knowledge.

    To make the most of your time together, create a framework and never schedule a meeting without a concrete agenda. Record your meetings so that team members can refer back to them. If you use Bloomfire, you can upload call or video recordings to the platform and automatically generate a searchable transcript so that team members can perform a keyword search and jump to the exact point in the meeting they’re looking for.

    Meet in Person When Possible (But Don’t Neglect Your Virtual Culture)

    While video conferencing is a nice substitute, there’s nothing quite like having your team meet face-to-face. A team retreat can allow everyone to get to know each other in a more natural environment and support more productive communication in the future. Of course, with the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions, it may be a while until in-person team events are safe and feasible.

    In the meantime, focus on supporting a virtual culture. That means ensuring your team is welcoming and inclusive, developing a comprehensive and supportive onboarding process, and collecting regular feedback. It’s also a good idea to publicly recognize employees’ achievements and encourage team members to give props to each other.

    Virtual get-togethers and regularly scheduled team meetings can go a long way toward helping people feel more comfortable reaching out to one another—even if they’re halfway around the world.

    Build Trust and Create Connections

    There are many reasons someone may choose to leave a position—but they’re a lot less likely to do so if they like the people they work with and communicate with them regularly. This is why it’s critical you make a concerted effort to connect with each member of your team.

    Here’s how:

    • Take time to get to know them, their interests, goals, career aspirations, and any challenges or obstacles they’re facing.
    • Ensure they feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns, and show you’re willing to listen without judgment.
    • Ask questions about the topics you know are important to your team and make sure they know feedback is welcome and valued. 

    Additionally, help create connections among everyone on your team. You can do this in the following ways:

    • Create a virtual community that supports cross-cultural collaboration and listens to each others’ ideas with an open mind.
    • Seek to defuse conflict and encourage each team member to speak up and contribute.
    • Practice transparency to build trust and model other behaviors you’d like to see team members display.

    Make Resources Available To All Members

    One of the best things you can do to ensure your global team is efficient and effective is to ensure everyone has access to all the resources they need to succeed. By leveraging a knowledge management platform, you can ensure all employees have access to the same knowledge, regardless of where they’re working.

    This way, team members can self-serve resources, so they don’t have to rely on colleagues being online at the same time when they have questions. A knowledge management solution helps employees feel empowered and keeps projects moving forward.

    Listen Carefully for Cultural Insights

    Ask your colleagues to let you know when their holidays are, what hours they normally work, how they would like to communicate with you, and of course, how the company can present itself in the most favorable light locally. Try to learn as much as you can about the local culture, and encourage your team to take an active role in training you in the best ways to work with them.

    As you and your fellow leaders learn how to work with global teams, you’re bound to hit a few stumbling blocks. But, regardless of the setbacks, it’s important you put in the time and effort to support diversity and collaboration. By following these tips and implementing a knowledge management platform, you’ll be well on your way to developing a highly successful global team.

    This blog post was most recently expanded and updated in June 2023 to reflect new information and best practices.

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