The New Rules for Successful Global Teams

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In recent weeks, many organizations have made radical changes to the way they operate, implementing new ideas and processes with amazing speed and success. Long-standing approaches to how teams work have been modified to keep the commercial wheels turning.


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New best practices are emerging to accommodate these changes, like “Embrace remote working for the long term” and “Do a much better job of adopting cultural norms,” but the fundamentals remain crucial to building and maintaining successful global teams.

Embrace Remote Working for the Long Term

Organizations and teams across the world have transformed their understanding of remote working practices in very little time—a huge topic of recent discussion. As a result, it seems likely the office-based environment that has remained a foundation of modern business will see permanent change.

Along with teaching people how to remain productive and manage effective video-based meetings, new remote working practices are changing long-held perspectives for those involved in recruitment. For example, those organizations that can successfully integrate what they’ve discovered about remote working into their long-term approach to business will find their ability to tap into the global talent pool significantly enhanced.

In effect, the era of location being a deciding factor in whether to hire a potential employee is fast disappearing in favor of hiring the best candidate no matter where he or she is based.

Do a Better Job of Embracing Cultural Norms

But as companies start to increasingly embrace global teams, effective management will mean that most organizations need to do a much better job of understanding cultural norms. This means learning about local traditions and values such as how individualistic or collective a culture is and understanding how that may change the way people and teams are managed.

It is important to make it a top priority to get to know remote colleagues as individuals. Be sensitive to the fact that people from a “dominant” culture may frustrate team members from a region that is less represented. Also, take the time to understand which team members have different cultural norms and values. 

Focus on the Fundamentals of Building and Maintaining Successful, Global Teams

Although shifting to a remote workforce changes many of the tactical rules of managing a team, the fundamental principles remain. Diversity and proactive inclusion and engagement continue to foster more creative ideas and positively impact the bottom line.

Trust remains a critical component to efficient, successful, and fulfilled teams. And taking the time to say “thank you” in a culturally appropriate manner can have a profound impact on how your appreciation is received. Remembering the fundamentals of good team composition and management will benefit your organization during this time of increased remote working and beyond.  

Inclusion and Diversity Benefit the Bottom Line

Diversity in the workplace is a significant benefit to building strong organizations and highly functioning teams. At the same time, research has shown that the experience of working for a diverse team brings with it increased complexities that are very clear to employees themselves.

It will become more important than ever for companies to understand and accommodate a diverse range of global team members as they grow. Those organizations that succeed in fully embracing the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workforce will be in a much healthier position to maintain their competitive advantage in the international marketplace in both the short and the long term.

The Most Effective Global Teams Thrive on Trust

Trust is a critical component of a successful international organization, but the increased need for remote working means maintaining confidence and managing distributed teams can be a challenge, particularly for businesses that span geographies.

And while many organizations talk about their belief in the benefits of mutual trust, for it to endure, actions must accompany words and businesses must make a long-term commitment to their teams. The impact can be transformational, but trust requires genuine effort, commitment, and hard work. International teams that pull together for a common goal will accomplish their growth objectives, profitability, and consistent business success.

Be Thankful, But Take the Time to Understand How

Saying “thank you” is usually a very simple and effective part of our daily lives, but when you add the diverse cultural variations and conventions found in international teams, what is rewarding to one global team member could cause another to become upset or even take offense.

An accurate understanding of what gratitude looks like for each employee, and how to express it based on his or her culture, can help avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Given that four out of five employees are more motivated to work harder after their manager shows gratitude for their contribution, expressing appreciation in the right way is important.

Getting it wrong, on the other hand, can have dire consequences and even motivate employees to look for a new job. Indeed, studies show that 79% of people who quit cite “lack of appreciation” as their main reason for moving on.

These best practices provide a framework for effectively building and managing global teams. Applying these insights while maintaining a focus on and dedication to the fundamentals will help teams become much more efficient and greatly increase the overall performance of a business.

Nicole Sahin is the founder and CEO of Globalization Partners. Sahin’s mission is to eliminate barriers to doing business internationally and building global teams. As founder and CEO, she is recognized for having created the company’s innovative Global Expansion Platform, which empowers companies to hire anyone, anywhere within a few business days, expanding their global footprint without the need to set up in-country branch offices or subsidiaries.

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