Global Teams: Four Tips for Fostering Collaboration
By Helene Cavalli on June 17, 2014
In today’s globalized world, employees must modify deeply embedded behaviors to accommodate a variety of cultures, time zones, languages and logistical challenges. “Going global” provides an infusion of fresh ideas and heightened efficiency to an international organization and its customers. As GE’s former CEO Jack Welch puts it, globalization allows an organization “to find intellectual capital – the world’s best talents and greatest ideas.” Still, global collaboration isn’t always easy. It requires discarding preconceived ideas and assumptions related to cultural differences, and opening up to new sources of information and inspiration.
Promote these behaviors within your team to improve communication and maximize global team productivity:
- Be considerate of all time zones. We shouldn’t just assume everyone is in our time zone—or that everyone should magically know our time zone. Before scheduling a meeting, ask participants for their time zones and make every effort to accommodate various locations. World Time Buddy is a great resource when scheduling conference calls with global partners.
- Respect cultural differences. Proactively conduct a little research to better understand cultural differences in style, communication, values and customs. Because holidays are often different from one country to the next, give your colleagues a heads up if you may be unavailable or if offices will be closed during an upcoming holiday.
- Try translating. When faced with a communiqué in an unfamiliar language, try running the text through Google Translate, a free, multilingual machine-translation service. While Translate has its limitations, it can be especially useful when you need to understand or communicate a brief message.
- Streamline communication. Use cloud-based collaboration tools for managing projects and data management, giving team members easy 24/7 access to upload, comment and collaborate on documents.
Global teams offer unlimited possibilities for innovation, but also require a re-assessment of how our communication skills are impacting team dynamics. A team committed to inclusion and collaboration will develop solutions.
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