To stay competitive in today’s economy, companies continue to look overseas to expand their customer base and diversify their workforce.
Exceptional leaders know how to leverage their global team’s varied work experience and skillsets. A multicultural team has unique expertise and diverse perspectives that position their company to succeed in the international business landscape. However, leaders must not only establish their company’s culture but also effectively communicate it for global teams to reach their full potential.
Creating a collaborative and positive culture for a global team is not without challenges; however, it is an essential element to retain top talent in the long term.
Effectively Communicate Company Culture
An influential company culture is the foundation of any successful business. Culture is comprised of shared values, expectations, and beliefs that represent the entire organization, and it dictates how employees perform and behave.
More than just a behavioral model, company culture influences day-to-day policies, procedures, communication structures, and job responsibilities. This is why your international workforce must understand their new team’s culture.
To communicate company culture and expectations with your international team, consider the following actions:
- Explain why company culture matters. Perception is unique to every organization and every employee, so it is essential to define what makes your company different. Take time to explain why it’s important for employees to live up to the values and how they support the company’s overall strategy. Culture training, workshops, and seminars help ensure everyone is on the same page, and present opportunities for questions and feedback from your workforce.
- Allow culture to influence team and company goals. Set challenging goals that mirror elements of your company values. For example, if your culture prioritizes continued learning and job development, set up metrics and goals that support those efforts, like completing online certifications and trainings.
- Make culture a priority. A thriving company culture is widespread in all elements of the organizational structure. To develop and maintain a stable environment, begin with hiring the right cultural fits. Weave culture points into company presentations and goals, and ensure that leadership represents the core values in how they lead their teams.
Once you establish your culture as an essential part of a successful international team, your workforce feels more connected to common goals.
Recognize Global Teams’ Challenges
Building a diverse and knowledgeable international team is challenging enough, but the job does not stop there. To create a productive global team, you must recognize the challenges that your employees face and provide solutions that work across the board.
While no organization is the same, international teams commonly face the following hurdles:
- Time zone differences. Time zone differences impact the effectiveness of groups that operate outside of headquarters’ regular business hours. To mitigate this challenge, set up standard business operating hours in each time zone in which your employees work. Establish processes—like scheduling emails to be sent during specific times—to reinforce and respect their working hours.
- Linguistic barriers. Linguistic diversity is one of the most common challenges cited when working with an international team. In Europe alone, there are over 230 languages spoken, and that does not account for regional dialects. To help with these barriers, translate all training materials into the languages your employees speak, so they learn core job functions in their native tongue.
- Inadequate Technology Infrastructure. Your global employees must be set up to work as efficiently as your domestic ones. Ensure that your global team has access to proper connectivity; cloud-based information sharing systems; and a support channel that operates in their time zones.
While not an exhaustive list, these points help you understand the challenges your international teams face and reinforce your commitment to providing solutions.
Promote the Power of Empathy
One of the biggest hurdles that international teams face is feeling disconnected. Ultimately, all groups yearn to connect through shared goals and trust that their colleagues have their backs when it comes to workload and responsibility. In fact, 92% of HR professionals report that a compassionate workplace is an essential factor for employee retention.
However, team connectedness must be built and nurtured. Teams that speak informally and share personal stories develop stronger interpersonal connections, but international employees do not have the luxury of communicating face-to-face. To foster a sense of mutual understanding and respect across your global workforce, leaders must implement the following opportunities for teams to build empathy and rapport:
- Establish clear and timely communication channels. Clear communication channels are essential to overall productivity; this is especially true if your team spans multiple countries and time zones. For traditional information sharing and day-to-day work, use delayed communication mediums like email, intranet, and specific social media platforms. If real-time collaboration is required, companies should use instant communication mediums like Skype or conference calls.
- Incorporate brainstorming sessions. Employees on international teams are not present during feedback loops and collaboration opportunities at company headquarters. It is essential to provide an open and regular forum for these remote employees to voice their opinions and feedback, so they feel heard.
- Celebrate cultural diversity. The best part of having a global workforce is the exciting diversity it creates. You want your employees to identify with and be a part of the broader company culture. However, your international teams must explore and define how their satellite offices are unique. Encourage your team to celebrate what makes them different, such as holidays or traditions, and share those differences with the company.
Building Culture in Your Global Team
Building a productive culture for expansive teams is not an easy task, but it is well worth the effort. Take on the responsibility to develop processes and systems that foster collaboration, communication, and a sense of connection for your international workforce.
If you are looking to expand your workforce globally or extend your international office roster, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.