5 strategies essential to managing global teams

March 11, 2020 | 5 Mins David Daly

In every sector of business, companies are expanding on an international scale. In a 2016 study (the latest year available), the US Bureau of Economic Analysis noted that worldwide employment by US enterprises increased by 0.4 percent.

With an expansion that crosses borders, HR departments face a new challenge: managing a global team. A global staff offers significant benefits for the forward-thinking company. The business can hire the best talent in the world, achieve a new level of diversity in thinking and approach, and improve their local knowledge in new market areas.

But in order to operate successfully overseas, HR departments must prioritize cultural sensitivity, strategic hiring, strong communication, and clear company values all underpinned by solid global systems.


1. Respect cultural differences


A study conducted at the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation found that the challenges of cultural integration within a global company include conflicting expectations surrounding hierarchy and status, prejudice and stigma, cultural and language barriers and misinterpretations.

Indeed, depending on the cultural chasm you are crossing, the differences between dispersed teams may be significant and problematic. From an operational perspective, HR team leaders must consider the local country’s attitude to days off, pay, promotions, pay rises and reviews so as to avoid miscommunication, discomfort or offense.

From a social perspective, HR managers should learn more about local customs and attitudes to gender, leadership and work. Is it considered normal to start meetings late? Are deadlines felt to be more of a guideline than a strict endpoint? Setting out expectations and understanding approaches early on will avoid problems down the line.

Build trust with the new remote workers by noting the holidays and milestones relevant to their cultural background. The manager who does not schedule meetings during Diwali is sure to prove more popular than the one who fails to acknowledge the event. Whilst birthday greetings and congratulations on employment milestones will help foster those crucial relationships.

Learn some of the local language. At least enough to greet your remote team and show that you have given your interaction some consideration. Think about how they may perceive you. Perhaps the manner in which you act in your native country may seem too regimented or indeed too relaxed to your remote employees. Draw on your existing communication skills to adapt your management style accordingly.


2. Share company values


Whilst it’s important to welcome diversity when working across different countries, it is also important as an international team to establish common goals and values.

According to a study published in Organization Science, understanding the context behind their actions is a key aspect of a team’s success.

Global teams must feel that they are part of the wider organization and working towards the same overall goals. Achieve this by developing a strong onboarding process, setting regular targets and conducting meaningful performance reviews.

Hotel giant Marriott’s onboarding program unites new hires across its global enterprise. The program includes leadership speakers and collaborative virtual spaces to bring team members up to speed from wherever they are in the world.

As Brent Jaye, Vice President of Amazon Web Services says, “In developing culture in remote locations, it’s important to balance appreciating and taking advantage of what makes each location unique with developing your globally consistent culture that has made your business successful”


3. Hire right


A major tool in the dissemination of company goals and values is a fleet of exceptional regional managers. These individuals must be trusted to relay important messages down to all remote workers in their region but also relay cultural nuance and understanding upwards to the headquarters.

A strong regional project manager must act as a conduit through which company culture flows and remote workers can have their voices heard.


4. Communicate


All this comes down to is communication. Virtual teams must be mindful of the need to check-in regularly and share progress, wins and development areas.

As HR managers, you can ensure success by encouraging team meetings to be organized at a time that suits workers in all different time zones. Promote the use of videoconferencing technology such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, etc. to allow as much face-to-face interaction as possible.

And for when a conference call just won’t do, know that sometimes there is nothing for it but to travel across the time zones for a real-time, face-to-face meeting.

As HR staff, it is important to show your availability to all team members in their different locations around the world. Schedule meetings over video conference to get to know your remote workers and understand what their needs are.


5. Technology


According to Bert Martinez, speaking to Inc.com, “Systems will allow you to duplicate offices and grow faster while reducing training times and supervision.”

Indeed, systems allow a simplification of processes that make for an agile and scalable business. As your diverse team grows, your system handles the extra capacity for you.

In addition, global teams benefit from a centralized point of information and are united in the use of common software and identical reporting.

For global payroll, technology takes the work out of a multiplying headcount and a dizzying number of countries to work across. Payslip’s automation and integration technology delivers standardized global payroll allowing organizations to scale fast from a global payroll point of view.  The employee self-service portal available within Payslip allows international employees control to update personal details, manage expenses and view and download payslips.

The crucial onboarding stage benefits from a centralized HCM for employees to access the policies and procedures relevant to their role. They can also gain awareness of the resources available to them, such as childcare, flexible work and healthcare. This makes them more likely to feel engaged and invested in their role. Ensuring access to such information is crucial to building trust in the early stages of employment.

In conclusion, strong lines of communication and organization with the support of technology such as HCM’s and global payroll software ensures diverse teams are engaged, on task and paid on time.


For more information on standardizing global payroll available on the Payslip Platform contact us today!


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