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7 Ways to Deal With the Challenges of Managing an International Team

With global business expansion now more accessible than ever to companies around the world, moving your business to an international market may seem like a very attractive prospect. After all, expanding overseas gives you the chance to get your products and services in front of a different target market and improve your profit margin. However, expanding your business overseas does not come without its own unique set of challenges. And since most companies need to hire employees in their new location to keep things running smoothly, managing an international team is likely to be something that you will need to become familiar with. With time zone differences, cultural differences, and language barriers just a few of the factors that might come into play when managing a global team, it's important to ensure that you're fully prepared to face all the many potential challenges.

Navigate Time Zones:

When you're working with teams that are spread across different locations around the world, it can often feel impossible to find a meeting time that's going to work for everybody. Even if you only have one team to manage, finding a time that suits everyone can be difficult if they are based on the other side of the world. Thankfully, with the rise of global business, there are several options that you can use to make scheduling meetings easier. TimeAndDate.com is an ideal option with an app for iOS that you can use to figure out the time right now anywhere in the world. It also includes a meeting planner feature that makes it easier for you to coordinate schedules.

Learn the National Holidays:

Across the world, holidays are celebrated differently. The national holidays that you celebrate at home might not be celebrated in the country where you are expanding your business, or there might be different holidays there that is not widely celebrated in the US. As a result, you will need to be prepared to allow people in your international team time off for holidays that you may not have heard of. You should ensure that you know which holidays are particularly important to your international team members, particularly those that are observed by certain religions. It's important to understand the details of these holidays and how they are celebrated, and how this might have an effect on team members. For example, Ramadan requires people to fast throughout the day, which can affect their productivity.

Understand Cultural Differences:

Your team members across the world might speak perfect English, but don't assume that their cultural values are the same as yours. Learning about the cultural differences in the market that you have expanded your business into will not only make it easier for you to understand your target audience but also the people who you have hired to work for you. There are several ways to research your team's cultural backgrounds including reading articles and books, watching movies made in that country, or speaking with members of your team who are willing to educate you more and speak about their experiences.

Consider Working With a PEO:

Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) can be one of the best ways to navigate managing an international team. The PEO can act as an employer of record in the country that you have expanded to and they will usually have employees based there who can manage team meetings, pass messages along, and ensure that your company is hiring the right talent. A PEO can also manage various other aspects of hiring employees overseas including sourcing and providing employee benefits that are typically expected in that area, navigating payroll and salaries, conducting HR services, and ensuring that all employment is in line with local laws and regulations while you can focus on managing the US side of your business at home.

New Horizons Global Partners offers a range of PEO services for businesses looking to expand overseas, including a Taiwan recruitment agency that you can use to hire the best local talent if you open premises in Taiwan. New Horizons Global Partner can manage a lot of the main challenges on your behalf including currency differences, language barriers, time zone differences, and cultural differences.

Use Collaborative Software:

Software programs that are designed to allow team members to collaborate with one another in the cloud are often the best option for working on a project with teams that are based around the world. For example, G-Suite's set of tools including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can be updated in real-time by any team member with access from anywhere around the world, allowing team members to see what's happening as it happens rather than waiting for a message. This allows everybody to access the software on their own timeframe and stay up to date while promoting maximum efficiency. Using a cloud-based, shared calendar application is a wise idea to make scheduling meetings easier and a communications tool like Slack can be used from anywhere in the world. Slack is a particularly good choice for communicating with international employees as you can set up group chats for teams in different time zones alongside main chat groups for everybody.

Learn About Individuals:

Working with people who are based internationally should be treated in much the same way as you would when working with people at home. Don't stereotype, generalize, or make assumptions about your new employees, particularly if they are from a country or culture that you don't yet have a deep understanding of. Remember that while they may be working for an American company, they are very much working on their home soil. It is OK to learn that you might have some cultural biases, but don't let them get in your way and be open to changing your opinions and learning new things about the culture that you have made your business a part of. Make friends with individuals who are working for you and seek advice from somebody who is familiar with the local culture and customs if any culture-specific issues occur. Ask open-ended questions if you are stuck; chances are that the people working for you internationally will be happy to help you learn more about their culture and way of doing things.

Trust Team Members:

When you are all the way over in the US and your international team is thousands of miles away across the world, micromanaging is simply not an option. Working with a good PEO can make it easier for you to hire talented and experienced team members that you will be able to trust to get on with the work that needs to be done. When working with international employees it's important to bear in mind that their work style or approach might be different from what you are used to; don't get hung up on this unless it is having a significant impact on the results. Some of these differences might be influenced by differences in the culture, so keep this in mind and remember that ultimately, outcomes are what matter the most.

Expanding your business overseas often means managing an international team, which can come with several new challenges. Keep the above in mind to help everybody work together well.

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Published Friday, October 30, 2020 9:31 AM by David Marshall
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