It's 2 am, and you're thirsty. So, you get up for a drink. In the living room, your laptop screen is glowing. There are 2 messages on your Slack dashboard. The first is from one of your digital team members in Canada, and another is from a developer in Argentina.
You sigh and go back to bed. Whatever the issue is, it can wait until a saner hour.
As the head of a virtual team, you understand the benefits of going virtual. Brick and mortar offices have their place, but a virtual team gives you access to a limitless pool of global talent.
Each day, your employees communicate remotely through emails, web-based team collaboration tools, texts, and video conferencing to achieve common goals. For you, keeping up with the latest virtual trends is a smart way to ensure your organization's success. Below, we discuss some of the primary challenges of global teams and 3 of the newest management trends you can leverage to your organization's advantage.
Current Trends That Facilitate the Rise of Global Teams
One reason that more companies are using virtual teams is a rise in global demand for unique skill sets. In particular, organizations look for proactive "self-starters" who exhibit high levels of emotional intelligence and possess excellent communication skills. Also, the use of virtual teams is the result of evolving technology. Thanks to breakthrough cloud technologies, more and more businesses are forming virtual teams: today, fully 36% of American workers are part of the gig economy.
The Key Challenges of a Global Team
Global teams have many advantages, but some intrinsic challenges remain. The language barrier remains the primary issue. Although your team members may have some familiarity with various foreign languages, they may not possess the fluency needed to navigate intricate business negotiations.
Additionally, time zone differences may prove inconvenient when it comes to planning the logistics of international calls. Another concern is cultural differences, which can lead to cross-functional conflicts.
What Global Team Managers Need to Address To Produce High-Performing Teams
At the top of the list is helping employees improve their communication skills. Train your employees to leverage clear speaking strategies to help them communicate clearly and effectively, especially by phone.
Accents are another potential communication pitfall. Consider how all Southern accents are not created equal and how a Texas accent can sound quite different from a North Carolina drawl. The same principle applies to foreign languages spoken outside of the country. Essentially, you'll need to create an environment of inclusivity, where team members feel comfortable asking for clarification when conversing. Cultural diversity training may also facilitate higher collaborative success among employees of differing nationalities.
1. Using Computer Mediated Communication
Also known as virtual communication, computer mediated communication (CMC) has become the mainstay of multinational collaboration. One of the main perks of CMC is that it offers the immediate transfer of information and knowledge across time zones and borders. In particular, it gives organizations direct access to an extensive global pool of experts.
By using CMC tools, such as webcams, you can recruit highly skilled workers without incurring high relocation or travel costs. Besides being cost-effective, it can also aid in removing workplace conflicts resulting from a misunderstanding of non-verbal cues.
2. Finding New Ways to Lead and Manage
As a manager, you need to make sure your directives are clear and devoid of ambiguity. Often, when teams work in the same office, their job descriptions may overlap. However, this generally isn't the case for global virtual teams. Thus, it's important for team managers to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all cross-functional teams.
3. Using Time-Zone Rotation for Meetings
Another trend is the use of time-zone rotation. This means varying the time of day for virtual meetings. A rotating meeting schedule ensures that employees across differing time zones need not be burdened with overnight meetings
Other Considerations For Global Team Managers
- When attending a video conference, pay close attention to your body language. Be natural, smile, and make direct eye contact with everyone.Strategically over-communicate to inspire an atmosphere of trust.
- Discuss and establish basic team guidelines and operational rules, such as how to express and handle disagreements.
- According to a 2016 survey, many corporate teams are entirely global or virtual in nature, with 41% of team members having never met in person. This is an increase of 9% since 2014. Virtual teams aren't just the wave of the future; they're now the most effective way to increase brand viability and prominence.
- In traditional brick and mortar settings, you can generally discern the tenor of the workplace environment through observation. This is next to impossible when your team is virtual in nature. To gain better insight into the cohesiveness of your team, encourage your virtual employees to refrain from muting their microphones during online meetings. Background noise reinforces our shared humanity and can be an excellent way to foster team cohesiveness.
That said, have the above insights been helpful? If so, we encourage you to leverage our many years of experience to your advantage. Let us help you hire more effectively and source better global teams. For more information about our services, contact us. Our main goal is to ensure your organization's success.