Engaging in international, culturally diverse teams working in different locations expose you to various communication approaches, work procedures, and management styles. Incorporating these to accomplish a shared objective can be a little bit challenging. Nonetheless, it can be managed properly and be exceptionally fulfilling.
Here are seven tips for working with internationally diverse offshore teams:
Establish the foundation. To start, you have to get everyone in the loop, so they would know what’s going on---the purpose behind the program, who the customers are, what the parts and obligations of the people are, and so on. Create communication and escalation chains. Clarify the different procedures and tools needed for the job, so that everyone is on the same page.
Interaction. Dialect boundaries in particular have a tendency to be one of the greatest obstacles. Take into consideration each team member’s learning curve in addition to the language barriers. A few might get it right away, while others might need more time. Some people find it easier to learn through visual aids, such as screenshots and printed training materials. They find that these help them understand despite the language hurdles. Make these training materials accessible to team members, e.g., uploading on a shared drive.
In addition, be mindful whenever you interact with team members assigned to various sites. It’s difficult to show feelings over email or chat. Always be conscious about the feelings of the recipient. Avoid offensive language at all times.
Seek continuous feedback. Ask questions to determine the progress of the project. Team members might have different opinions and suggestions on ways to improve processes and methods. In time, your colleagues will be more comfortable in giving their opinions.
Include everybody. When conducting meetings, include everyone. Be sure to allow each individual to speak up. Let them know that you value their views and suggestions. When making decisions, consider their ideas. By doing so, you’re encouraging open communication within the team, so that those working in remote locations will feel free to approach you without any hesitation.
Foster reliability among the team. It can be hard to build trust when your teams are not in the same office. However, there’s no “I” in team. They need to trust in each other’s capabilities. Keep in mind that every word you say will be remembered, so keep it as fair and objective as possible. At the end of the day, the aim is to meet the team’s overall goal.
Teamwork. Working together as one in an assigned project can create a bond within your team members. Obstacles are always present in the process. All they need to do is work their way through it until they reach their goal.
Have a sound IT infrastructure. It is essential to have solid IT resources, because working with offshore teams require the use of technology as a mode of communication. Tools such as Google Hangout, GoToMeeting, and Skype are a few of the available resources for virtual interactions. The amount of communications skills wouldn’t make a difference if you don’t have reliable tools that would enable you to communicate effectively online.
You see, applying these tips involve a lot of practice in order for you to successfully manage a diverse, albeit virtual teams. With the rise of globalization, outsourcing is growing in popularity, which means the ability to manage virtual teams is more important than ever.