Small businesses are uniquely positioned to develop teams that are not constrained by geographic boundaries. Small businesses, after all, have a level of flexibility and agility that is hard to find in larger corporations.
Global teams can be more efficient, cost-effective, and productive for a number of reasons. But with global teams come a different set of challenges. If these challenges aren’t successfully managed, a global team can quickly come apart at the seams. The tips below will help you create and manage a successful global team in your small business.
Set Shared Goals for the Team
All teams — regardless of how they are structured — need to ensure they are working toward a common goal, but this is especially important when team members are not sitting face-to-face every day. With a team spread around the world, it becomes absolutely essential that each team member knows what the desired end result is and what part they play in achieving it.
Use Tools for Collaboration
Global teams have to collaborate and work together, just like local teams, but the methods for doing so often vary. This is where technology comes in; there is a vast number of tools and resources that make collaboration, file sharing, and conducting meetings at a distance possible. Take a look at these web conferencing tools and these teleconference services to explore ways your global team can use technology to do more.
Understand the Cultures Involved in Your Team
Having employees in different locations means you may have to manage a variety of different cultural expectations. Take time to get a clear idea about your employees’ cultures so you know how it may impact their availability or ability to work during certain hours or on certain tasks. Some of them can possess European citizenship or any other. This is especially important with vacations, holidays, and other time off so you can know in advance and make accommodations to make sure your team responsibilities are covered.
Make Sure Directions and Expectations Are Clear
A global team may mean there are language barriers that make team cohesiveness and communication a challenge. Communication is vital on any team, so take time to be explicitly clear about work responsibilities and project deliverables so everyone is on the same page.
Be Aware of Varying Time Zones
You may not need all of your team members to be working at the same time to build a strong and productive team, but you will need to be cognizant of time differences when it comes time to schedule meetings. The Time and Date Time Zone Converter is an excellent tool for checking the time in different locations.
Allow for Flexibility Among Your Team
One approach that can make the challenges of a global team less restrictive is maintaining a level of flexibility among the team. Micromanagement is a definite no-go here; try giving your employees enough leeway to make decisions based on their own levels of expertise and stay flexible in your approach to work. Remember that it’s more about the end result than the path taken to get there.
Get into a Delegation Mindset
Learning effective delegation can be one of the biggest challenges for small business owners who are used to doing everything themselves. It’s hard to let go of control and trust that everything will work out the way you want it to when you’re no longer hands-on and in the middle of every part of your business.
But even though it’s a challenge, delegation is a necessary step for any small business owner who wants to grow his or her business. It takes work and consistent effort to delegate effectively, and a large part of the success is thinking like a delegator. Here are a few ways you can put yourself into a delegation mindset.
Think in Terms of the Big Picture
If you get caught up in the challenge of delegating each individual task, it will be a long battle to reach effective delegation. Consider the best possible outcome from delegating, and what effective delegation will enable you to accomplish in your business. Keep this in mind as you manage the day-to-day delegation challenges, and overcome each hurdle.
It can also be useful if you can tie your delegation goals into another goal in your business so you have a structured way to measure your progress and stay on track.
Embrace the Value of Others
It’s difficult to delegate and accept the new work process of the team member taking over, especially when you’ve been doing the task in a certain way for a long time. Aim to remove yourself from the work process and focus on the end result. Is the finished product acceptable, even if the way it was achieved was different from what you would do yourself?
Once you open your mind to new ways to do things, you may also find that your processes are improved, fine-tuned, and built upon in ways you weren’t able to do yourself. Plus, new eyes on work mean new ideas, and that alone can be invaluable.
Arm Your Team with Information
Having documentation that clearly outlines the details of the work and provides all of the necessary information is important in the delegation. But don’t leave it at that. Once you have shared all of the necessary information, take the time to review the specifics, and answer any questions that may arise. When it comes to effective delegation, shared and consistent information is vital.
Be Around, but Not in the Middle
Effective delegation isn’t instantaneous; it’s a progression that relies on trust, collaboration, and respect. When you first begin to delegate, you may want to follow along with the work being completed to ensure it’s being done correctly and to help your team members overcome challenges.
As time goes on, however, avoid micromanaging the work that you delegate. While it’s important to stay in the loop so you can monitor the work and provide feedback for improvements, your goal should be to remain available but invisible, unless you are needed.
Make It Ongoing
Your small business changes, so your delegation needs will also change. On a regular basis, review the responsibilities on your plate, where your time is going, what you wish you had time to tackle, and how your team is managing the work you have already delegated. By making this a regular evaluation process in your small business, you will be able to anticipate needs and be ready to add to your delegation process as soon as you see the changes taking place.
Don’t forget that building a highly efficient global team is dependent on hiring the right employees. Read this article with tips on attracting and hiring the right employees. And for more tips, you can use when managing your global team, read this article on keeping employees motivated and challenged.