It is a huge responsibility for managers to have teams spread over many different nations and time-zones, with a myriad of different cultures in the mix. Establishing global teams has increased with enhanced technology and with project/team management tools galore. Managing multi-national teams has become more manageable. They key to successful global team management today isn’t more technology but it is a set of team management skills. Here are the top four skills will make your offshore team just as good as your local team.
Managing offshore teams means you have to facilitate meetings and communications over different time zones. Your meeting times should be convenient to them. Agree on a certain time frame that works for the team that’s abroad and stick to that window.
Maintain a regular check-in meeting in real-time during which the team can ask clarifying questions in order for them to meet project expectations. It’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate. This way, you equip your team with all the details they need to do their work and they’ll be less likely to contact you at an inconvenient time.
Your offshore team is immersed in an entirely different culture than where you’re headquartered. This effects how they show up to work and, if they identify with that culture, it would even effect how they perceive their job and you, as their manager. Each country has its own set of expectations that managers need to invest the time to learn about. Be cognizant of what they expect of their team and work style.
Be aware of holidays and try not to schedule work meetings when the country is celebrating. What could be the most helpful is assigning a qualified person you trust to be a regional team cultural ambassador who can bring to your attention anything you may have overlooked while bringing the overall culture of the company into the offshore team.
Reliability is key to ensuring that your team can count on you to resolve any issues that may arise during the time that they are working and you may be off work. Make yourself available to the team in case they’re in need of more information or guidance, as in the case of unforeseen events. You can choose your mode of communication. It doesn’t have to be video conferencing; it can be via text. Set parameters and decide which situations warrant communication outside the window in which you prefer to be contacted.
The reality is that things happen during work and important questions arise that weren’t thought about during a meeting with you.
Due to the time difference, decide on a time frame that works for both of you for regular meetings. Once meetings have been set, don’t reschedule and be consistent with the times you set to collaborate. This will establish a stronger aura of reliability and professionalism around you.
Don’t underestimate the power of trust. Trust is everything in a team, be it global or local. Without it, employee morale and satisfaction would drop and you’ll likely see a high turnover rate. As far as offshore teams may be, it’s possible and not so difficult to establish trust. You can start by cultivating relationships between offshore teams and local teams. This can be done by creating a Slack group with both included. You can also give some time for chatter at the beginning of meetings where both teams are present. You can use this opportunity to give shout-outs to offshore team members who’ve accomplished something great!
Make the offshore team feel closer and not further away by keeping them up to date about what’s happening at the headquarters and the influence their work is having on the company, as a whole and ask for their thoughts and opinions. If the offshore team doesn’t know the big picture, they’ll feel isolated and you will have a team that’s not working to its maximum potential.