How do I work with team members located in different parts of the world?
I want to work effectively with team members located in different parts of the world. How do I ensure that location, time difference, culture and beliefs and personality will not affect my work with the team?
It gets very difficult sometimes to deal with a geographically dispersed team but new inventions and new technologies have reduced the barriers of flow of communication. Apps like Skype are widely used for the same but before this, the team should be self-motivated and should have good communication skills to prevent any kind of misunderstanding.
I can recommend you to look at https://www.refog.com/personal-monitor/ website. There is an employee monitor which allow business owners to record the online activity, sound from the mic, etc. It also works like a keylogger. Maybe, you will find it useful for you. Have a nice day :)
For one project, I managed a team of people who were working in one country for a project that was located in a different country on another continent. Meanwhile, I was living and working in a completely different country on a third continent! In all, including client stakeholders and peripheral Support and Services project team members from my company, this team had members located in six countries on three different continents. It took a lot of effort to manage communication among the members of this team. Good luck anyway!
It is vital for you to control your employees, especially if they are far from you. I can recommend you to read the article at https://clevercontrol.com/staff-control-secrets-of-employee-management/ for this purpose, you will find out a lot of useful things for you which will definitely help you a lot. You should also use some project management and monitoring software, I guess. I hope that you will do everything correctly, and your business will be very successful always
Keep it impersonal, use messaging rather than conferencing, PDF's for examples, etc. Take the timing issue day by day and always say you need to check with your legal department before agreeing to any changes so you don't get bullied "culturally."
I use www.slack.com for collaborating and www.scheduleonce.com for scheduling time to chat. As well, I ensure everyone has a Google Hangout account and Skype account.
I worked for over20 years in Multi-Nationals with teams across the globe and sometime my managers were in a different time zones and countries.
This is one of the most challenging tasks that management faces in any multi-nationals and is not easily overcome. Here are some tips:
Sensitivity to Cultures
You need to understand different cultures and their responses. For example, when Swedes says “Ya, Ya, Ya” to every point you make, it does not signify agreement but only signifies they have heard you. To assume they mean “Yes, we agree” could send you in the wrong direction! In South East Asia, employees never disagree or challenge their boss as it is consider as disrespectful and rude. It is the good of the collective (team, company, the nation, etc.) that matters and the chase for personal glory is frowned upon. In Spain family time is family time, so do not assume just because you are the boss you can send a message or call at any time. You are not number 1 out of working hours, as family and children trump you every time.
Be aware that nothing alienates your colleagues or subordinates when you utter the words “In America....”. They may not say it but they are thinking “You are not in America” (and that is the polite versions of it).
High Touch, Low Touch (not in a physical sense)
What works in US and Northern Europe does not work in Southern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia (I have covered all these areas!). USA and Northern Europe are “Low Touch” business which means they are more formal, things are done in writing, and process is the king. In Southern Europe, Africa, and Middle East, the opposite is true as they are “High Touch” which means personal relationships are the king. Trust, familiarity, and personal history determines business and personal relationships. Contracts are for when we fall out, and process is for when we can't think of another way of doing it! Asia is somewhere between the 2 as they are stickler for process.
This manifests itself in marketing and sales where in Middle East, Africa, Southern Europe and Asia most businesses rely on “Agents” than official Distributors or Resellers. Agents own the relationships and have access to the market and control and influence the buying process. Advertising and marketing is just about brand awareness, which supports the Agent's activities. Cold calling, mailshots, etc. are not as effective in these cultures as they are not from people consumers trust.
Meetings & Timing
This will be very challenging as attitudes to time is very different in US and Northern Europe vs Southern Europe, Africa, and Middle East. That can drive you nuts but relax otherwise you will have a heart attack, as one of my colleagues reminded me in South Africa “Relax, TIA” (This Is Africa). We now have our version which is “Relax, TIS” (This Is Spain). You will have to adjust your expectations and manage your bosses expectations as they are too far away from it to have empathy! You will feel you are being pressed by both sides and if you do not manage upward and downward, you will end up in an asylum!
Also remember to be fair in your meetings. We had a rota in my team for conference calls as I had teams across the globe. Some poor person had to be on a call at 3am, so rotation meant sometimes it was me but not the same person all the time.
Western culture has a lot of nonsensical rituals of setting the scene, context, buy-in, etc. Forget it. Just get to the point. At 3am, I really don't care what people think in Arkansas or Texas, I just want you to get to the point so I can go to bed! Brevity and completeness may sound oxymoron but they are skills you have to develop and breakaway from the norms of Western Culture.
Laws are different in different countries so you cannot assume universality of practices and laws.
- Clarify Objectives and not Methods of getting there. What works in Texas does not work in Toledo
- Ask about their barriers so you understand their challenges (cultural or legal)
- Work as a team and not "Follow the Leader" as you don't live in their reality
- Use the opportunity to learn new ways of doing things rather than telling people how they should do things. (Again, you are not living their reality).
Above all enjoy the ride and experience. It will enrich your life, your mind, and your attitude to everything. Exposure to different ways of life makes you realise there are no “Right Way and Wrong Way” of getting from A to B. Life is shades of grey and not black-and-white.
Good Luck :-)
First of all as a team, we have to pen down the each team members engagement expectations to make aware each other of roles and responsibilities each person have had to take care off, during offsite assignment
Second comes the scenario where you have hired people from different geographical locations or the team members belong to same group / organization
The better team collaboration using various online tool such as Google Calendar, GoToMeeting, EeventBrite to make the things centralized and focussed. In short automate the complete ecosystem
For offsite engagement culture and belief does not make any difference
Ms. Jana, we now have Social media, Virtual etc to support you. It requires frequent interactions to ensure that you are connected with the team members and keep them empowered. Florence MacDonald
Firstly I'd start with accepting that location, time difference, culture and beliefs, and personality WILL affect your work with the team and with the team itself. Once that's understood then you're forewarned (and forewarned is forearmed). I'd then suggest you adopt the a methodology usually used in software development, 'Agile'. The tenet is to ensure the best possible collaboration tools and methods are used.
A) Clearly communication your vision to everyone
B) Decide in small intervals (say two weeks 'sprints') what as a group you are going to achieve
C) document these fortnightly elements with a clear a definition as possible for all to understand and discuss jointly
D) use the best a tool that allows for instant communication, e.g. MS Lync, Instant Messenger, etc. and encourage its use. The best communication is face to face, followed by verbal/visual, followed by verbal, and only then written. Encourage communication in this order of priority.
E) Find a time of day that suits all time frames and hold a daily meeting (Agile 'standup' called such as its short, sharp and directed and so doesn't require people to sit down. Within this each person advises what they did the day before what they are going to do and their issues. This is NOT a report to management, it IS a sharing of detail and collaboration.
F) measure what has been achieved in the two weeks, measure what has worked, what hasn't and adjust to what's working best. If you are going to 'fail' then fail fast and resolve fast.
Take into consideration culture, certain cultures are more hierarchical that others, some encourage a greater level of autonomy, a greater level of independent thinking. Also some are more likely to put a more 'glossy' view on things when perhaps there are issues, for fear of being seen as failing (especially if they are providing a service).
Hoping this helps but please feel free to reach out if you would like more information.