Best Ways to Communicate with a Global Team

Best Ways to Communicate with a Global Team

The recent pandemic shined a light on many businesses’ ability to survive as employees were forced to work from home. Remote work has been a topic of debate for many years, but often wasn’t considered a realistic option. But as we’ve seen, new employee flexibility and autonomy hasn’t had any identifiable negative impacts to productivity. In many cases, productivity increased as people saved time on commutes and office chatter.

It’s no surprise this new data has increased the popularity of the remote work movement. And with talent located all over the world, employers are seeing the value of hiring globally. With that being said, if businesses want to see continued success as they expand, they’ll need to keep a few basic practices in mind.

Ways to Communicate with a Global Team

Every employee is unique, with different learning and communication styles. There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all method to communicate with a global team. It’s up to each business to understand the needs of their team and develop a communication strategy accordingly. Here are some channels to consider to encourage engagement from all team members:

  • Written Channels: We  have all experienced the frustration of sitting through a long meeting and realizing it could be replaced with a simple email. Written channels can be especially valuable if you have team members in different time zones around the world. Dozens of tools and technology support written communication. However, written conversations aren’t enough to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Voice/Video: Recent development in this area has made remote teams stronger. With video chat, conference lines, and phone calls, it’s easy to have real-time conversations from anywhere in the world. This is an essential channel to reduce confusion and maintain human relationships and interactions (for all those extroverts out there).
  • In-Person Meetings: Obviously, with a global team, this can be a challenge. But businesses should make an effort to have quarterly or semi-annual meetups for specific teams (or the entire organization). This can create a sense of belonging and loyalty to ensure everyone feels part of a cohesive unit. At the end of the day, authentic relationships will help you retain your global workforce.

Creating a plan to communicate with a global team will save you headaches in the future. Determine the best balance of written communication, live conversations, and in-person meetings to maintain positive collaboration and unity.

Global Communication Best Practices

Establish communication expectations

Managers need to implement clear guidelines for proper communication within the team. With so many different channels available, employees may not know what channel to use and at what times. Establishing communication expectations will give your team confidence to collaborate while reducing miscommunication and frustration.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • When should the team use email vs. Slack?
  • What should be added to Asana vs. shared in WhatsApp?
  • When do you schedule a call vs. a group chat?
  • When should the manager be included in daily tasks?
  • What is the approval process?

These are all important questions to address and formalize upfront. As frustrations or confusion arise, you’ll be better equipped to resolve those communication challenges.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings

The key to success when communicating with a global team is authentic relationships and accountability. Conducting regular one-on-one meetings can keep you up-to-date and engaged with each member of the team. If you want employees to feel like they’re part of the team, take the time to learn their responsibilities and provide praise and feedback.

Managers can make these meetings as frequent as needed. From weekly to monthly, it’s good to have these meetings, even if there isn’t anything critical to address. Use it as an opportunity to touch base, discuss recent events and build a stronger relationship. These often provide greater value, as they allow teams to discuss life outside the office and develop relationships outside of tasks and deliverables.

Encourage collaboration

It’s true… it’s much easier to collaborate in person. If something pops in your head, you can walk over to someone’s desk and strike up a conversation or grab some people and head into a conference room. The proximity and constant communication creates an atmosphere of natural collaboration.

When your team is global or remote, it takes more effort to work together. Find ways to remove as much friction as possible. For example, instead of sending an Excel spreadsheet or Word document back and forth via email, use cloud-based software like Google Suite. Your team can edit, collaborate, review and finish projects without ever leaving their browser.

Simple efforts like this will encourage your team to be more productive, without waiting for emails or confirmations.

Managing conflict

First of all, understand that conflict is a natural and healthy part of life (if handled well). When you communicate with a global team, you need to consider the various religions, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, political or sexual orientation, country norms, and more. With so much diversity in the world, there is potential for unintentional conflict to arise.

Written communication has the greatest risk of misinterpretation. Without facial cues or body language, sarcasm or humor can be misread. Make sure managers always understand this and provide guidelines to maintain healthy relationships.

Technology Support

We’ve mentioned various platforms and technologies throughout this article. So here is a list of tools that we or our Clients have been using to improve communication efforts among global teams.

  • Slack: This tool replaces many of the unnecessary emails in an organization. Create specific channels, threads, and conversations to stay on top of projects.
  • Zoom: Video chat allows global teams to still have face-to-face conversations. Don’t miss any body language or facial cues as you discuss business tasks.
  • WhatsApp/Skype: Tools like this can help for urgent needs or non-business related topics. It can be used as a more casual communication platform to maintain relationships and get immediate responses when needed.
  • Google Suite: Google can be used as a centralized platform for spreadsheets, documents, presentations, calendars, email and more. Work together on projects in real-time.
  • Asana/Monday/Trello: Task management tools will keep your team accountable and make sure nothing ever falls through the cracks.

Obviously there are many more communication tools available. It’s up to each individual business to determine the best ways to communicate with a global team.

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