Companies will often languish for half a day at some mandatory employee seminar for sexual harassment, sensitivity training, team building or some other perceived necessity. Though these subjects are of course important, they rarely affect the day-to-day dynamics of any marketing team.
With increased globalization, diversity and a higher frequency in remote teams, the priority really rests in creating a heightened awareness of an employee’s work environment. Take the real life case of an unnamed Japanese company with a satellite office in California. A distinct difference between the Japanese and American business mannerisms, expectations and cultures left the two sides disconnected and created a divided work environment.
The marketing department within that company reflected deeper fissures, with each one of the four employees presenting a starkly different ethnic and cultural background that could not work cohesively on campaigns. While companies can benefit from the cultural richness, those that do not strive to create work environment awareness are left with a weakened internal structure. Additionally, when the team had to ping back to the Japan office, they were often faced with project misunderstandings and obstacles that could have been avoided through simple measures and basic training.
Below are a few tips to help enhance the work environment of distributed project teams:
- Facilitate Better Communications
Use all possible channels effectively to communicate. You can use email, sharing project files, phone calls, conferences & collaboration tools.
- Gain Cultural Knowledge and Use It to Your Advantage
Understand the time zone differences; know local holidays, cultural events and celebrations, gestures.
- Build Trust
You need to build trust factors in project team members. Regularly talk to them and address their concerns.
- Inspire and Motivate
Motivate team members by praising them in conference calls for their work, inviting them to host important meetings and sharing positive customer testimonials. A system of rewards and mentorship always works best since it gives employees a better measure of a reward.
- Delegate Work Responsibilities among Dispersed Team Members
Help them in understanding the co-dependency – that other team members are dependent on their work. It builds sense of responsibility and accountability.
- Realize and Address Issues that Arise in Scattered Working Conditions
Do not ignore issues raised by team members. You need to address those pro-actively. It also helps you to gain their trust.
- Foster Open Culture
Regularly engage with your team, facilitate an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation, share information transparently and regularly with the team.
- Prepare Sound Processes to Manage Project Deliverables on Time
Clearly outline the process to deliver a project outcome for each team member. Let them understand what to do in case of escalation, customer request, new task/project assignment, communication etiquette, which entities are sharable and what is confidential, etc.
- Conduct Global Project Management Training
Arrange training to help them understand project management practices, processes specific to your organization/department in details and build their confidence in working with a global team. Share these processes at a central location accessible to everyone.
- Be Accessible
As a project leader, you have to be easily accessible to your team members. You can be their guide/mentor. Arrange regular calls/meetings.