Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Communicating across devices, continents, and cultures, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
When you travel, your plane ticket contains the basics, like your name and destination. It also contains other details, like the date, flight number, gate, and even a few things that only have meaning to the airline, Like those tiny ticket details that might not have universal meaning, but have meaning to the airline. There are tiny things that might not seem important, but can be very meaningful to your remote team members. First, let's start with cultural differences. When you have employees from other countries living and working in your home country, or employees living in their home countries, it can come in handy to study and understand their customs. Of course, you can use the internet to do some research, which I strongly recommend. You also might want to have a conversation with your employees expressing curiosity about their customs and cultures. This conversation alone might help you establish a positive relationship with your international team members. The second tiny but significant item to address is speaking in local time with your team members. That is, use their time zone when communicating with them. Here are some tips that could help efficiently manage local time zones. Create a visual. Have a clock for each time zone in which you have a remote employee. These multiple clocks should be on the walls of your conference room and on the home screen of your computer for quick reference. Create a master calendar that contains everyone's schedules, including yours, in one place. And lastly, use reminders. Not only for your appointments, but also for your remote employees. Doing this is an easy way to keep track of who's where and when. Third, and last, tiny but significant item: Focus on communication effectiveness elements. Communicating with a team where you have people in multiple locations can sometimes feel a bit chaotic. Just like an air traffic controller keeps track of a number of far away airplanes, you can effectively manage communications with people you can't easily see by using these tips. First, find out the best time of day to communicate with team members. They're likely to have meetings locally, scheduled at specific times. Understand those schedules, and the work burden those meeting create, and accommodate them when you can. Second, find out if your remote team members are extroverted, and feel comfortable responding to communications immediately, or do they take a more introverted approach, processing information and considering alternatives before responding. Simply talking on the phone with you team members might not give you enough indication of their introverted or extroverted preference, so asking each remote team member, and accommodating their preferred extroverted or introverted style can be very helpful, and increase your communication effectiveness. My last communication effectiveness recommendation is this: Find out the preferred modes of communication for each of your team members. With so many technology options, a lot of us have different habits for being in touch with each other. Consider asking your remote team members what communication tools they prefer. Along with sharing your preferences as well. Knowing if an e-mail, text, or phone call is preferred, and what you should do if something needs immediate attention helps you and your remote employees be more effective. Hopefully, you can use some or all of these tips to help you manage across technology, continents, and cultures. Once you find your groove with your team, this could become more habit and less effort.
Discover how to build rapport, set mutual expectations, communicate, connect, overcome conflict, get work done, and grow the team. Also included is a look at the top five challenges managers face in leading remote teams and helpful solutions that will get your team on track.
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