Five Tips on Managing International Teams

Remote working has been gaining popularity in the past few years and this inevitably means there has also been a rise in multicultural teams with members in multiple different countries around the world. Working from home has been shown to boost productivity while saving companies money, and with the current coronavirus pandemic, many companies have been forced to adopt this new way of working whether they wanted to or not. Whether you are new to managing remote working because of the pandemic or if you already manage an international workforce, here are a few tips to help streamline your workflow and increase the overall productivity your team achieves, all while boosting morale in general.

Find a balance between control and freedom

Unplanned check-ins are common in offices as they allow employees to drop by their managers’ desk to ask a quick question and receive an immediate answer, these check-ins, however, are simply not possible when working remotely but finding the balance between controlling your team and giving them freedom can easily solve the problem.

Having an established structure is even more important for remote workers than it is in offices as it will help combat the issue mentioned above. While clarity and transparency are essential, assigning specific roles and responsibilities to different team members will help to relieve pressure off you as a manager and will also help other team members to clarify things using instant messaging instead or always coming to you.

Keep in mind that there is always room for improvement in this kind of structure so listen to the feedback your team gives you and switch things up if necessary.

Make use of the technology available

Modern technology has come a long way in recent years and the features available can allow you to maintain a great level of communication with your team, regardless of where in the world they are located. When in a virtual conference call using applications like Zoom or Skype, you can use plenty of features to share information, and mitigate distractions. To prevent distractions or even to hide sensitive information, there are services available that offer virtual backgrounds zoom integrated into its software, seamlessly hiding your surroundings without the need to buy any physical equipment. Other tools available include screen sharing and virtual whiteboards, both of which help to quickly share information and discuss topics as if you were in the same room as your team instead of miles apart. Managing employees has also become much easier thanks to technology. Software, for example, allows companies to track employee time-off requests and manage them easily.

Learn about cultural differences

If you find yourself working with a multicultural or even a multilingual team, make sure you take some time to research their backgrounds and their culture. This will help you perform better as a leader by avoiding any embarrassment and, more importantly, will show them that you care, likely gaining their respect immediately. An example of this is simply searching up things like national and religious holidays and including them in your team’s shared calendar. As a precaution, you should always double-check with your HR department before doing this but the simple act of making an effort will go a long way to how people view and respect you.

Use a personal touch

Managing teams in a small office space typically involve periodic one to one meetings throughout the year to make sure everything is going well and to catch up with individual employees. It is even more important to have these check-ins with remote workers, but many companies assume that the same frequency will work and will only require you to have these meetings once every few months. Working from home is a very different environment and we advise that you instead check up on each team member individually far more regularly, for example, once every week or two. This is another activity that may be a little time consuming but will really show your team that you care and that they are being heard if they have any concerns. In an office, employees can stand up and ask to speak to a manager in a private room, however, many people do not feel as comfortable when it comes to calling their manager to be sure to make the first move for them.

Avoid micromanaging

Micromanaging is a poor practice in general, but it can be much easier to accidentally slip into when managing a remote team. The inability to physically see what your employees are doing can lead to an inherent suspicion that they aren’t working. However, micromanaging is an extremely detrimental thing and can not only negatively affect productivity but also morale and it is crucial that you keep morale up during these trying times. Checking up on your team regularly as we mentioned above is a great way to keep an eye on them without breathing down their neck. Keep a log of who you have spoken to and when, and as long as their work is being completed on time and to a high level, place more trust in them and they will appreciate you more.

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