10 Quick Tips on Managing International Teams That Actually Works

It’s not uncommon for businesses who expand internationally to struggle to keep up with excellent management, especially for their international teams. From remote team members to cultural differences, a lot should be considered for an organization looking to streamline its processes. Especially if the expansion occurs quickly or a new leader is appointed–it’s hard to keep up.

It’s crucial to put a strong foundation from the beginning to ensure the greatest success. However, if you’re in a situation where you’re tasked with rebuilding, there are specific actions you can begin to take to improve your management teams. Here are ten quick tips (in no particular order) on managing international leaders and their teams:

1. Refine Your Processes

First and foremost, take a step back and evaluate your processes. Everything from your business model and mission statement to your training process and sales goals should be written down and easily accessible for everyone in your organization. These can be fluid–but they must be in one place and organized when you’re managing teams and delegating projects halfway across the world.

2. Leadership Should Be Rock Solid for International Teams

Have a team in place in each region you’re expanding to lighten the burden. Even if you cannot hire a senior-level employee in that region immediately, send some of your top team members for an extended period of time to source top talent. It will make a huge difference in having feet on the ground.

3. Make the Data Work for You

Always let the data talk when it comes to operating your organization internationally. Nigel-Blythe Tinker, Executive Chairman for VGW, the company that revolutionized the social gaming industry with its Global Poker brands, explains, “How do you figure out how to offer personalized experiences? Or understand your target demographic? Or know how to create authentic, sharable content? Data.” It’s critical to consult the data for every major business decision.

4. Onboarding Should Be Air Tight

Please take steps to refine your HR teams and their processes. Your organization hires every person should have a solid onboarding journey to complete—both at the corporate level and their specific region. Ensure it’s a smooth transition for all team members hired, and you’ll continue to retain top talent.

5. Communication is the Key for International Teams

To be successful in managing your international teams, you must be a good communicator. Fortunately, in the digital age, we live in, it’s easier than ever to set up different communication streams based on what works for your teams. While you don’t have to be “always-on,” be sure that you’re accessible and delegate other leaders to be accessible when you’re not. Platforms such as WhatsApp or Slack make it very easy for communication to span borders.

6. Test Your Employees

It’s important to understand how your teams work together and their strengths and weaknesses. A great way to do this is to use a personality test as part of your onboarding process. It will give you great insight and help you to be a better manager.

7. Set Recurring Virtual Meetings for International Teams

Take the liberty to set recurring weekly meetings on your calendar with your international teams and make every effort to stick to them. It can be difficult with different time zones, so figure out a day and time that works for everyone and stress how important it is for all team members to attend regularly.

8. Face to Face Meetings Each Quarter

Regular remote meetings are critical, but nothing can replace the value of getting to know your teams face to face. Make every effort to travel to meet in-person the people who are working hard for your organization. If possible, visit different regions each quarter, or have a yearly summit if your budget allows. You will quickly see the impact it makes for retention and recruitment and won’t regret it.

9. Understand Cultural Differences

One of the best parts of managing international teams is getting to learn and experience others’ cultures. However, it requires you to be extremely understanding, accepting, and open-minded. Also, always be sure to be respectful of all employees’ cultural norms and practices.

10. Set Your Expectations

As a manager or leader, you need to be an example to all international teams you manage—whether you’re in person or not. Set clear expectations and goals from the beginning, so everyone clearly understands their duty or role. Lead by example and influence people in your organization to be the best they can be.

At the end of the day, successfully managing international teams will always be accompanied by many hardships. But it can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your professional career.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan