As enterprises transition from role-based to skill-based workforces, the composition of working teams is likely to change. The candidate with the best skillset may be down the hall or an independent professional based across town. Or they may be a digital nomad currently working in Thailand or some other country multiple time zones away. Assembling the optimum team for a particular project may mean having multiple members distributed around the globe.
As the trend toward globally dispersed teams increases, changes to one’s management approach may be necessary to ensure productivity, goal achievement, and retention of valued talent. What works well locally may not work well globally.
Consider these tips in the context of your team needs and management style and note any changes or modifications that may be called for.
This tip is not as simple as it might seem. Frequent meetings can become burdensome as your team works to produce results and meet milestones. On the other hand, sporadic interactions between you and team members can be counterproductive. Think through when and how often live meetings would be best positioned and use these to keep all members informed of project status. Consider using a standard agenda for these meetings and keep them brief. Make a point of going beyond formal sessions and touch base with individuals on a regular basis. Also, encourage team members to contact you with questions, concerns, or issues.
Keep Purpose and Goals Front and Center
Team cohesion is always important, and it is especially so on a global team. A communal understanding of the “why” and “how” of the project can help bond the team. Articulate purpose and goals frequently and share information in context.
Encourage Intrateam Conversation
Another essential ingredient for team bonding is the ability to have informal conversations between members, some outside the bounds of the project. With a collaboration tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams team members can chat with each other about work, personal interests, and stories related to their geographical location along with ad hoc contacts.
Stay Time-zone Savvy
Time zones can be a challenge when team members are widely distributed. Take advantage of asynchronous communication for things like status updates and deliverable submissions. For live meetings, negotiate a standard time that will work for all participants.
Make Technology a Valued Ally
This tip is a sort of umbrella for the rest. A strong technology structure is essential for a high-performing global team. It facilitates timely communication, sharing of important information, and opportunities for team members to develop relationships with each other. In addition to using a collaborative tool that makes near-real-time communication easy, standardize other tools (for example, a project management platform) and applications for use across the team. Make sure that everyone follows good cybersecurity practices (conduct training if needed) and that your system infrastructure is also secure.
While it can be a challenge to change well-ingrained management practices to work with a globally distributed team, making needed changes in the ways you interact with your teams to produce the desired result is definitely worth the time you invest.