Strategies for Improving Communication Across Global TeamsAUTHOR: Noah Rue
The rise of remote work, coupled with improvements in communication technology, means that more businesses are operating globally than ever before.
But communicating across global teams is challenging. Cultural differences, time zones, and inadequate access to tech can make it difficult to connect with employees who live in different countries or continents.
Fortunately, managers and business leaders now have plenty of resources available to help improve their communication skills and effectively manage global teams.
Utilize New Technology
The pandemic forced almost all businesses to go remote. While this may have been frustrating at first, remote working generated a boom in task management software and project management technology. Business leaders should take advantage of the rapid expansion in this software to aid their communication efforts with global employees.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing between remote working tools. Put simply, most global businesses will need two things: a reliable task management system and a communication platform that is available across international borders. Here are a few of the major players to consider:
Task Management Systems
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Workspace
While there are plenty of great options to choose from, managers should avoid the temptation to use more than one platform for communication. Employees do best when businesses opt for unified communication strategies that provide users with a single point of contact. This will streamline operations and make it easier for global leaders to set and achieve clear goals.
Set Clear Goals
Having a north star is vital for all businesses — it’s even more important for companies that operate globally. Setting clear goals can help managers stay on top of day-to-day tasks and organizational goals can help business leaders communicate clear expectations across global teams.
Global businesses can establish company-wide goals by completing a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:
- Strengths: Which global teams operate effectively? Which teams have a natural advantage over others?
- Weaknesses: Which teams perform worse than others? Do these teams face a unique communication challenge due to their location?
- Opportunities: Are there any external opportunities that can promote business growth? Are international markets open to expansion currently?
- Threats: What barriers to growth do global teams face? Do international competitors threaten the stability of global teams?
Once a SWOT analysis has been completed, global leaders will be able to set goals that are achievable, relevant, and motivational. This will help improve communication across global teams and help businesses proactively accommodate cultural differences.
Encourage Cultural Learning
Most global leaders understand the importance of cultural differences. However, few managers or owners do enough to encourage cultural learning within their business. This is a missed opportunity, as actively promoting cultural learning can help preempt faux pas and improve communication across global teams.
Promoting cultural learning in a global workplace requires tact and sensitivity from managers. It’s important to remember that global employees aren’t there to educate anyone, and they shouldn’t be expected to “represent” their culture. However, business leaders should still survey global teams to get a better picture of differences and gain insight into the way that global employees respond to communications.
When surveying global teams, managers should attempt to uncover cultural norms that aren’t yet respected in the workspace. This may include things like holidays, national languages, and common motivational strategies in different countries. By taking the time to understand and accommodate cultural norms, leaders can build morale and ensure that their communications are well received by employees around the world.
Building Morale Remotely
Morale is the backbone of effective business operations. Employees who feel valued are far more likely to give their all and exhibit loyalty toward their employer. However, building morale in global teams can be particularly challenging if communication is ineffective or if opportunities for collaboration are few and far between.
Managers can build morale and improve the efficiency of their global teams by providing low-stakes collaboration opportunities. This can build a sense of teamwork across global teams and may help business leaders spot communication issues. Over time, global collaboration efforts will improve communication between global teams and provide valuable feedback for leadership.
When considering global collaboration opportunities, managers should opt for tasks that are relatively easy and can be completed asynchronously. Ideally, these opportunities will lean heavily on task management systems and will align with company-wide goals.
Many businesses now employ folks from all over the world. This gives companies a natural advantage over their competitors, as they will benefit from greater access to quality candidates and enjoy a more diverse company culture.
However, communicating with global teams can be something of a headache for business leaders. To overcome this, businesses should invest in unified communication technology, set clear, company-wide goals, and embrace an attitude of cultural learning. Global businesses can further enhance their international communication efforts by offering opportunities for low-stakes collaboration which will improve morale and highlight areas for improvement.