Disha Bheda, our coordinator for the San Francisco breakfasts, has written a nice summary of a conversation we had in San Fransisco last month about managing global teams:
So as to make more effective use of resources, lower costs and utilize time better, today’s businesses are seeing a very distributed workforce. As people across various continents work on the same project, managing global teams poses various challenges.
Not being able to meet or know your colleagues is a serious cause of concern. Managers interact with their team mostly over email. What is forgotten is that there is a person reading and responding to the email. Effective communication is key. Management should take as many opportunities as possible and go out of the way to communicate through the phone and through video conferencing.
The challenge posing constant communication is the different time zones. When it’s time for the manager to work, it might be the end of day for his team. Care should be taken such that meetings are scheduled to accommodate everyone. This is difficult and one team member or two might be inconvenienced. The times of meetings can be changed periodically so that not only one part of the team is inconvenienced.
People have found having a five minute meeting everyday where the tasks to be accomplished over the next 24 hours are discussed, nothing more, nothing less to be great. Having chatroom where people sign in when they come to work and sign out when they’re done has proven effective for some. Having a local manager as a point of contact with the team in a particular geography is another solution. As the naysayers say, “Communicate and things happen less often”.
There is the challenge of building trust with colleagues. When interacting with them online, the manager faces a constant dilemma whether to believe if the colleague really needs a day off. There also comes into the picture cultural differences. Being aware of differences and events happening locally goes a long way. Building trust with colleagues and giving them the benefit of doubt can help set the dynamics of the team on the right footnote.
We also published a poll on Managing global teams last month.