When handling a global team, you must be prepared to face various cultural business challenges.

How to manage a global team in terms of communication, time zones and agility

Project management of global teams is one of the most challenging but at the same time rewarding tasks for any professional. It requires a set of transversal skills, from a cultural point of view, in terms of emotional intelligence and leadership. Considering that the coordination will be held remotely, one has to be prepared to use a wide set of tools that will make the communication flow effortless.

The success of your global project depends on how well you communicate and motivate your team members. Sharing objectives and goals creates a good balance and a sense of community. Do not be afraid to delegate and divide tasks equally, trust all your peers if you want to create a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Cultural awareness and sensitivity

Even though all of your team members speak fluent English, keeping yourself informed about local holidays and customs, it will give you a great advantage. Everybody will feel appreciated and respected. There are subtle cultural differences at a business level that have to be taken into consideration, for example if you miss an important call, what is the “apology etiquette”? “Whether your internal team spans multiple continents, [or you] want to ensure that your team treats your international customer base properly, it’s important to be aware of how to properly relate [to one another] within each culture,” Masjedi told Business News Daily.

If you feel that at first, you do not have a deep knowledge about a certain culture, use the start or the end of a call/meeting to have an informal conversation about the cultural issues you are interested in. It will help everyone get more relaxed and feel part of the team.

Diplomacy is a big part of managing a global team.

Elegant leadership skills

Keeping the global team united and collaborative requires a set of leadership skills, but with a touch of savoir-faire, considering the various cultures you have to face. Be flexible but precise when it comes to scheduling appointments or sending a clear message, especially when goals and objectives suddenly change. Managing with grace priorities will allow you to create a calm and friendly working environment. A great leader picks up the phone and makes calls, he or she doesn’t just give orders by email. By being active and present you will inspire others to do the same, so set the example and offer practical guidelines.

Joggling different time zones

How many times did you fix a call without considering the time zone, or you just got it wrong, because you were joggling multiple countries? In this case it is just about finding the right tool that works for you and carefully checking your calendar. You risk making a bad impression when missing a call just because you miscalculated the time zone. Be very thorough and always perform a double-check before sending an invitation.

Remote communication and deadline management

The problem with global teams is mainly using remote communication and handling deadlines, because you will not have the chance to organize frequent face-to-face physical meetings. You will surely face misunderstandings and delays, because sometimes a call or an email cannot fix what a meeting can. That is why you have to be very clear when sending the message through and always make sure that everyone got it. Create a shared calendar for the most important deadlines and ask for a monthly report of the activities. A good recap is also a life saver, so establish an agile format that everyone can use and ask to be shared at the end of each call. If you feel some members of the team have a hard time understanding some of your requests, schedule a one-to-one call and chat about pending items. This will save you a lot of time in the future.

Use common tools and apps for an agile exchange of files and materials

One of the most frequent mistakes is not using the same tools or software – this tends to complicate the process. Agility has to be part of your management philosophy, because otherwise you will find yourself having trouble opening files, converting formats and losing a huge amount of time. How about creating, during the first steps of the project, a shared list with the tools that everyone in the team will have to adopt. And if this is not possible, ask for a compatible version of those. Proposing a protocol or specific guidelines will save you a lot of time and will make things simpler for everybody.

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