How to Manage Your International Team

How to Manage Your International Team

More and more companies recognize the clear advantages of having an international team, as it gained an increase in popularity in the age of remote work. A global team consists of people from different parts of the world as well as different cultures and time zones that connect and work remotely on the same project, under the same goal.

The team members might never even meet each other in person, but thanks to modern technology and the remote work adaptation since Covid-19, that alone should not be considered a problem.

There are undoubtedly many positive outcomes that can be achieved while working with an international team, more so than with a local one. In a recent 2019 Global Employee Survey conducted by Globalization Partners, it is stated that global perspective and diversity are the two most essential tools that international teams have to offer for a company. 

Other than these two significant factors, there are many more benefits that companies pointed out to the advantage of global teams: creativity, access to talent anywhere, cost-effectiveness, productivity, and responsiveness are some of the valuable assets that an international team can bring to the table.

For an international team to bring out its utmost potential and significantly contribute to the company, it is essential to understand how significant a role the manager plays in this particular team. A global team’s weak points, such as miscommunication and collaboration difficulties among its members, are things that the manager should know how to tackle to move smoothly and for work to be done right. 

Thus, an international team’s manager’s responsibility and reliability are greater than most and should be considered a top priority. That being the case, we had gathered in this article a list of valuable tips and guidelines for managing an international team to assure its ongoing success.

How to avoid miscommunication?

Managing an international team is no easy job. Having to collaborate across different time zones seems like an overwhelming task, one that, if done wrongly, could easily cause misunderstandings and harm the project at hand. The best way to avoid any fallout of information and ensure the synchronization of work across different time zones is by staying organized as much as possible. Staying organized is essential in a local team, but it is crucial globally.

Only with a well-organized approach can people scattered worldwide become a team and collaborate thoroughly. To stay organized and systematic, a manager must:

1. Use technology to your advantage.

     There are endless useful apps and platforms that a project manager could use to keep things organized and the flow of information well-kept. A few good examples of tools to use for project management are Monday.com, Scoro, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, and many. 

2. Have routine check-ins.

 Checking regularly on your team members is a great way to know for sure that everyone knows their part and that there is no breach of communication. It is also essential to do so for the sake of engaging and building trust with your remote coworkers.

It is recommended that the scheduled meeting would be held via Zoom and not through mail alone. Not only face to face interactions are more effective than mail, but they also help the employee feel more ‘seen’ and appreciated.

3. Accommodate through different time zones.

 A project manager of an international team should be very mindful of time zones and schedule work and meetings accordingly. To keep track of the different time zones and stay organized, a manager can arrange the members into workgroups according to their most fitted time zones and accommodate the schedule in accordance with each group.

How to strengthen collaboration?

The language barrier, the physical distance, and the cultural difference can all become factors that can weaken collaboration among the international team members.

Even when everyone gathers to work under the same goal, it is still not easy to connect. Creating a work environment that is friendly, open, and compatible is an essential thing for every team, as it can reflect significantly on the quality of projects and results.

As a global team manager, it is your primary job to keep all of your team members connected (not just professionally but also socially) and become a sort of mediator among the team. To create and maintain social connection, a manager must:

1. Initiate small talk.

Small talk is a great way to ‘break the ice and create a friendlier atmosphere. Any talk that is not work-related should be encouraged at the appropriate time and place, as it can solidify trust between coworkers and ensure a common ground. Even among different people from different countries and cultures, there are many universal topics, such as family, hobbies, sports, food, art, etc. It is essential to ask questions and let the conversation flow on its own!

2. Be aware of power dynamics.

When using a lingua franca in an international team, there might be members who would feel less comfortable talking in that particular language than others. That can result in them talking less in meetings and holding back on their ideas and thoughts.

Other team members, who are more fluent in the chosen lingua franca and can speak confidently, might end up being more dominant in work meetings. A manager must be aware of the power dynamics that form and balance everyone’s voices as much as possible. Only then can the collaboration within the team become more open and honest.

3.Be sensitive to cultural differences.

When focusing on a team, it is sometimes easy to forget the individual. A manager must remember that every team member comes from a particular country with their own cultural rules set.

Culture can influence how one thinks, behave and see the world, and a manager should keep that in mind. Things that are appropriate in one culture can be offensive in another, so a strong level of sensitivity and awareness comes into play.

Make a work environment that is comfortable and mindful of different cultures and customs- an open space where everyone can feel belonging.

In Summary

While managing an international team can be pretty challenging, it is also the most rewarding. International teams are proven to be creative, influential, and cost-effective, and it is worth putting the time and effort into building them. Using the tips above, one can tackle the pain points of managing a global team and can then enjoy its many benefits.

If you are running a global team, Contact Xinergy for professional team and operations management services.

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byNiv Schwartz

APAC Strategy Expert Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Tech-savvy with rich experience in Technology business in APAC Region. Founder & CEO of Shanghai Xinergy Global Business Consulting

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