Developing and Working with International Teams – Ten Tips

There can be hurdles developing and working with International teams.  Here are some tips to help you.

1- Do not assume your team members have the same sense of humour that your do. Sometimes what you find amusing may offend someone else.  What your language, some cultures can be offended with your “norm”. Think about the expressions you use and what they may mean to someone else. Try and use up straight, clear language and leave out the nuances and entendres … at least until you get to know your team.

2- Do not assume that your team members understand or relate to your analogies.  We have all been raised with certain stories that are used to illustrate and augment what we are saying.  Not everyone can relate to them as they were not raised in the same culture.  Do not take language short cuts by using analogies.  Speak/ writ it out to keep things as clear as possible and to try and keep everyone on the same page.

3- Do not assume your team members know the same acronyms.  Acronyms change from country to country, industry to industry, company to company.  Spell / speak them out until you establish acronyms that your whole team understand.

4- Different nationalities will have different accents, analogies and more.  Do not hesitate to ask for clarification for yourself and overall for the rest of your team.

5- Speak slowly and enunciate.  Ask your team members to do the same.  Minimize back ground noise and ask your team members to do the same.  When holding a meeting ask your team to stay focused and not try to multi-task. This will save everyone form missing key messages and repetition!

6- Use tools such as virtual rooms , prepare agendas in advance so your teams can follow along visually and not just rely on verbal communications.

7- All meetings need minutes.  Send them out promptly. Clearly indicate the action items and who they are assigned to. Set deadlines for delivery of those actions. Highlight any overdue items.

8 – Be aware and sensitive to different time zones, holidays, cultural observations.  If you are respectful of what is important to your team members, they will usually reciprocate.

9- Take some one on one time to get to know each member.  This will help you to understand their strengths and weaknesses and overall build a stronger team. When your team member does something exception, take the time to acknowledge that!  That can go a long way.

10- No matter where a team member is from, some will get along better than others, some will not get along at all.  Remember this is about delivery, service and quality.   Take the time  to remind your teams of  the common end goal of delivering what you were brought together to do.