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Six Ways to Manage Global Teams Remotely and Create A Culture Of Trust, Productivity Building and managing a global team means understanding and adopting the professional practices of a culture that's new to you

By Tammy Perkins

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Effectively managing a global team requires stellar leadership and communication skills coupled with a dynamic cultural awareness. It takes effort to impactfully communicate, motivate and celebrate your team. You need to collaborate in ways that energize employees to work together as one team across departments, languages, time zones and culture. It is a thrilling challenge that stretches your leadership skills. When you embrace diversity and empower people across your global team, great things happen. The results are hard earned and totally worth it.

Here is how to construct and streamline your international operation.

Start with the Basics

Building and managing a global team means understanding and adopting the professional practices of a culture that's new to you. Endeavouring to direct a team in a culture that you may just be starting to understand can be complex.

It's essential to start with the cultural basics: a working knowledge about gender roles, attitudes towards leadership, work norms and expectations are essential right from the word go. Regional partners help tremendously. Listen to them; take their advice and get comfortable about leaning on them.

Hire Strong Regional Leaders

Strong regional leaders, whom you trust and with whom you communicate well are key to your success. They absorb and model company values in your absence. They are your eyes and ears on the ground. They are your cultural touchstones.

Having managed strong and weak regional leaders, one can confidently add that it's worth the time to be hands-on in choosing the professionals who assume these roles.

Define the scope of the roles. This needs to be crystal clear, particularly on remote teams that you are developing to function without your daily, in-person interaction. Understand the local talent pool and benchmark their strengths to determine succession planning. Make sure to benchmark pay as well to ensure equity by location.

Finesse Cultural Nuances

Steward your international colleagues with the same care as your local team members. As part of your meeting prep, make sure you have the right greeting prepared for the right time of day, so you're appropriately wishing your team good morning, afternoon or evening. Kick off meetings by sharing positive news, success stories or team recognition highlights, just as you would if your colleagues were sitting with you.

The nuances around time zones and geographies are part of a mental shift that you have to own. Be connected with global constraints when it comes to sending messages and timing meetings. This way, your requests will adhere to realistic timelines, and your meeting invitations will land at reasonable hours where your teams are working.

Create an open and inclusive dialogue with your team to cultivate an awareness of holidays and local customs. Learning this the hard way is humbling; something like mistakenly scheduling business travel to India during Diwali, which is one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture, spanning five days. It could mean something as disastrous as the entire team could be out of the office to celebrate with their families. It should be part of your process to double check regional holidays before booking international business trips.

Team Building across the Miles

The onboarding process is one of the most important leadership functions; it is fundamental to success when it comes to developing strong, diverse teams. The additional complexity of managing remote, international teams makes it even more important that you get onboarding right.

Find mentors who can help with assimilation and who are cultural ambassadors to represent the company's cultural values. Cultural ambassadors can help new employees understand the values and leadership. They get it and they champion corporate values to their peers.

Once the team is in place, create efficiency through standardized processes, information flow and sharing best practices, then be clear with setting standards and alignment. Giving operations your attention and care sends the right message to your team about the importance and value of the work.

It is imperative that your teams know that out of sight is not out of mind. Make sure to honour your commitments, because this is where your team looks to gauge the company's cultural values. Rescheduling and cancelling meetings with your international reports, for example, makes leadership seem unreliable or disengaged. It's hard to unseed that message, so don't plant it in the first place.

Global Employee Experience

Give your team the support their success requires. Provide team members with visibility into decision-making. Be reachable, and invite input. Build a foundation of empowerment and accountability with remote employees.

Spread positive rumours by sharing updates about great work and great workers across the remote team. Hold meetings to connect your virtual team, provide regular updates on progress, brainstorm and hear their ideas.

Model your company's professional values. These are more than just words in your company's handbook. Live them. Breathe them. Own them. They are your mantra– how your shared culture defines success; it translates into every language and transcends every mile.

Creating a strong foundation and global employee experience ensures your team's cohesion.

Foster Connections

Build a virtual community that promotes collaboration and ongoing communication across geographies. Nurture and expand empowerment across teams. Practice inclusion. Drive behaviour through multiple touch points with the business. Then use technology and collaboration tools to keep your team organized, motivated and productive.

Often the experience for employees working at corporate headquarters differs from those working in satellite offices. While you want employees to identify with the broader company culture, you also want to provide opportunities for each location to define and share the culture of the team. Internationality is part of the overall employee experience. It's exciting and it characterizes your team. Celebrate the culture that each location embodies.

Leading a global team enables you to use a deeper dimension of your leadership skills; it's demanding, and it's life-changing.

Tammy Perkins

Chief People Officer, Pacific Market International

Tammy is the Chief People Officer of PMI Worldwide, where she leads Human Resources for PMI’s family of brands including Stanley and Aladdin. Prior to joining PMI, Tammy worked with major brands and startups including Amazon, Microsoft and Fjuri – leading HR and talent acquisition during periods of high growth and transformation.

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