Working with team members from differing cultures and countries is rewarding and challenging. You certainly won’t see your people every day let alone once a month, yet you still have group objectives to meet.
To succeed in this space, you’ll need to employ all your communication skills.
Here’s how you can turn this into a success:
- Team meetings – because you are not all together team meetings are an important way to build your team culture! Team members may be working alone in remote offices, or even from home. They’ll need to feel like they belong to your organisation and that they have colleagues that they can reach out to and rely upon.
- Use video conference technology if you can so that you can see each-other and pay attention to the quality of the calls / conferences. Joining calls where you can’t hear what is being said is highly frustrating and can disengage even the most dedicated employee.
- Make sure that each person in your team has a chance to share their news or experiences. Allocate time for spotlights for team members so that they can present their project or initiative to the team. This also helps everyone to practice their presentation skills in a safe place.
- For personal communication, make use of technology, instant messaging, video chats, phones, email…find out what works for your people – everyone will be different.
- Don’t just wait until you have a problem or a task to do before you make that call. Instant messaging is a great way of creating the ‘water cooler’ chat with a remote team member where you can informally check-in and ensure that they feel supported.
Finally, communicate, communicate, communicate… use different words, styles, techniques and technologies.
Remember that not everyone’s first language is English (or whatever your company common language is) and avoid local phrases and sayings – keep it plain. I can remember German Colleague looking at me very strangely when I suggested we ‘needed to tart up’ a presentation we were working on together.
Aim to visit each team member regularly – at least once a year so you can create quality time and space for conversation and feedback.
Follow these simple rules and you’ll succeed where others fail, and you’ll have a team that’s inspired and excited to work with you.