After over 25 years working in global companies, you might say I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage a successful global team. During that time, I have created successful marketing strategies and campaigns to generate results, business opportunities, revenue growth, and profitability within multiple industries. But, without a team who can collaborate effectively, I could not have been successful or effective.
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Teamwork and collaboration are the keys to success when working with a large global team. It’s important to create an environment that fosters open dialogue, encourages shared ideas, and promotes problem-solving while providing value to the business.
At times, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle at a large corporation. However, it’s important to remember that matrix organizations also provide unique opportunities for growth and learning.
I’d like to share some tips and tools I believe are important for working with a large global team.
Tip 1: Leverage Technology to Bridge the Gap
One of the biggest challenges of working with a large global team is bridging the gap between different time zones, cultures, and languages. Technology is one of the most powerful tools available, and when used correctly, it can make or break the team’s success.
Whether using video conferencing, instant messaging, or shared document platforms, technology enables faster, more efficient communication. By leveraging the right technology, you can automate repetitive tasks, allowing team members to free up energy and focus more on valuable tasks.
Tip 2: Diversity & Inclusion: Understanding Different Perspectives to Foster Collaboration
An effective leader promotes diversity and inclusivity. They do this by creating an environment where every individual feels respected, valued, and motivated. This should be non-negotiable. All colleagues can contribute to the team’s — as well as the company’s — success by sharing their unique perspectives and ideas.
An inclusive leader listens actively, communicates effectively, builds relationships based on trust and respect, and is open to exploring the points of view of those with different backgrounds and experiences.
Inclusive leadership allows us to grow faster and more sustainably — as a company, and as professionals. It also benefits our customers. A diverse team can better understand their challenges and learn new ways to support them.
For example, in a recent Team Workshop, one of the main activities was “The Culture Map”, by Erin Meyer. This involved the mapping of eight cultural dimensions, ranging from communication styles to feedback and decision-making approaches.
One of the activity’s benefits was that it facilitated cross-cultural communication by creating awareness and respect for differences among the team. By understanding these differences, I’ve learned how to adjust my communication and leadership style to fit the needs of my team members.
This activity helped our diverse global marketing team to foster understanding and respect for cultural differences. We created a more inclusive and effective team that positively impacted our global marketing efforts.
Tip 3: Create an Open and Welcoming Environment
Encourage your team members to share their ideas and be open to feedback. This will help everyone feel comfortable and supported.
For example, I always try to end my one-on-one meetings with an open question, such as “How can I help support you better?”
It’s the little things that set great leaders apart.
Perhaps you have a new member join the team; make sure that person feels welcomed by the entire team. We all remember what being new is like, so treat newcomers as part of the group. We call this being one of our #SEGreatPeople.
Tip 4: Set Clear Goals
Setting clear goals helps everyone on the team have a collective understanding of what they are working toward and creates a shared sense of purpose and alignment.
Clear goals help keep everyone on track, focusing on what needs to be accomplished. By making goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART), team members can know they are moving in the same direction.
This also enables teams to track progress, identify issues, and adjust their approach if necessary.
Tip 5: Be Present, when in person
For me, it’s vital to be as physically present as possible, allowing us to create genuine connections and establish trust that technology can’t match. When we invest in our relationships, we invest in our personal and professional growth.
Most importantly, when we meet our team in person, we also create a better understanding of each other’s cultures, personalities, and working styles. By seeing our colleagues face-to-face, we can appreciate their unique strengths and gain empathy for their struggles. This practice creates a deeper bond that leads to greater collaboration.
So, when you travel to meet your team, clean up your agenda and be present. Emails and messages can wait. Spend time getting to know your team better. Talk with them about how they are and uncover their day-to-day challenges.
As I reflect on my time as a global leader, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities and experiences I’ve had. From trekking across the hot and arid terrain of the Rub al-Jali Desert on camels to learning how to dance the Samba in the vibrant streets of Brazil, my time spent interacting with individuals from different backgrounds has taught me more than any book ever could.
Through these experiences, I’ve become more attuned to the needs and concerns of those around me and learned how to build and instill trust in my team. I have learned that regardless of where we come from or what language we speak, at our core, we share the desire for connection, community, and compassion.
By embracing these commonalities, we can create a world filled with understanding, acceptance, and love. Here’s to the camel rides, the samba lessons, and all the beautiful experiences yet to come. I am grateful for the lessons learned, and the friendships forged, and I will continue striving to create a more harmonious and inclusive global community.