Checklist for Managing International Virtual Teams
When you're tasked with managing people virtually, there are many things to consider — not least of all, whether your team clearly understands its mission and goals. Now, if your virtual team is comprised of international members who are all located in different countries, you have a host of additional considerations that you, as the leader, need to remember in order for the team to be successful.
This helpful checklist contains some key points to keep in mind:
- Are you using the right technology platform? Just like with any virtual team, you need a technology platform that facilitates collaboration and communication. Examples include Bootcamp, Slack and Wrike, but you can also use Google apps and hangouts.
- Have you researched each team member’s culture? When it comes to international teams, you don’t want cultural differences getting in the way of great work. Do some research into the cultures of each of your team members so you have an understanding of business etiquette in their region. This will put you in a better position to lead the team through any miscommunications or issues.
- Do you have translation software? If there are people on the team who struggle with English, it can be helpful to use translation software (if your budget allows). There are increasingly advanced options available, including software that’s specially designed for business use.
- Are you building the team? While some team members might be excited to be on an international team, others might be more reserved or even intimidated. Team building can help create a cohesive group of like-minded individuals who are all working together towards the same objective — even if they’re on the other side of the world. Begin by having an introductory video meeting, and follow up with weekly check-in meetings so everyone is up to date on the progress of the project.
- Have you established clear lines of communication? Make sure everyone on the team knows how to reach you with questions and concerns, whether that’s through the technology platform, by email, or via chat. It’s also essential to encourage communication, since there are cultures where asking for advice or assistance is seen as a sign of weakness.
- Are you considerate of time differences? When setting deadlines and meetings, be aware that with an international team, people might be in completely different time zones. Use the World Clock Meeting Planner app to determine times that work for everyone on the team.
- Do you provide feedback? Many international teams are put together for projects, which are limited-time initiatives. Since you don’t know if you’ll be working with the same group of people again, it’s wise to evaluate the project upon completion so everybody can learn from the experience.
With this checklist in hand, you can feel confident and productive when it comes to leading international virtual teams. Now, no matter where your team members are located, you can be there to lead them!
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