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For many larger organisations, global teams are commonplace and managing projects across different locations, time zones, languages and working styles is something that global teams have been wrestling with for some time. These ongoing challenges are widespread and anyone who has either been involved in, or indeed managed, a global project will be all too familiar with the difficulties of overcoming them. So how can you mitigate some of these challenges and what can you be mindful of to make the whole process run as smoothly as possible? Here are our key tips for managing a global team.
We’ll start with one of the most common difficulties in managing this type of project - the wide disparity in time zones and the simple fact that finding time to meet, collaborate or discuss the project in question can be difficult. The reality is that it will be challenging to get everyone from across your locations onto the same call at the same time. TimeandDate.com has a customisable World clock which you can use to map the times at your different locations. In addition to working out time zone differences, it can make a big difference to equip the global project leads with technology that will help them to better connect with their team when they need to.
It’s a good idea to have a calendar of national holidays for the locations your teams are based, this will help you to organise any projects around them. Also adding to this any key projects or priorities you global teams might have that might compete with your projects. For example your team in the US may have a big deadline at the end of the month which will absorb their focus for the final week, meanwhile, there is a national holiday in Spain on the following Monday – this period is not a good time to have any key project work scheduled. Being on top of this from the outset can make a big difference in delivering a project on time.
The success or failure of global projects rests on effective collaboration and as such, it is crucial that teams are able to communicate and collaborate easily and efficiently. This means working on the same platforms and software, working with the same calendars and schedules and communicating via the same channels. It is no good having one team set up on Skype and another on WebEx – communication will just not be efficient. When it comes to project management and tracking it is again, vital that all teams are working from the same programme and seeing everything in real time.
Collaboration on global projects shouldn’t just be between project leads or through the project manager. Your teams across the world need to be working together as much as possible. If everyone is set up with the right software as mentioned above, this will be a lot easier, but you still need to encourage collaboration. Make sure that your team in the US and in Spain are talking to each other and not filtering their progress and feedback through management. Regular calls involving all teams are, of course, essential in this.
An aspect of managing global teams is realising that different people in different countries will have different working styles and cultures. Where possible, and so long as it does not impact results, you should encourage all of your teams to work in a way that works for them. This will make everyone more comfortable and ultimately should help to ensure timely progress of the project. Empowering your project leads in the various regions to implement appropriate working styles can help a lot with this. As ensuring a flexible working environment is paramount in supporting the success of your global team, allowing best practices to take shape by making allowances according to region will maximise productivity.
For more management advice on everything from maintaining employee motivation to up-skilling your team visit our management advice hub. Why not look at our article on how to successfully manage a large team or alternatively, get in touch with your local Michael Page office today?