It’s not uncommon for businesses who expand internationally to struggle to keep up with excellent management. From remote team members to cultural differences, there’s a lot that 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 very important to put in place 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
Have a team in place in each region you’re expanding to in order to lighten the burden. Even if you are not able to 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 their 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
Take steps to refine your HR teams and their processes. Every person your organization hires should have a solid onboarding journey to complete—both at the corporate level and their specific region. Make sure it’s a smooth transition for all team members hired and you’ll continue to retain top talent.
5. Communication is Key
In order 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 methods of 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
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 regularly attend.
8. Face to Face Meetings Each Quarter
Regular remote meetings are extremely important, 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 what an impact it makes for retention and recruitment and you won’t regret it.
9. Understand Cultural Differences
One of the best parts of managing international teams is getting to learn and experience the culture of others. 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, it’s important for you to be the example to all international teams you manage—whether you’re in person or not. Set clear expectations and goals from the beginning so everyone has a clear understanding of 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 with many hardships. But it can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your professional career.