If a team on a single project is working in two different locations, the challenge is scheduling meetings and work allocation. Often times the work is being done at parallel at two locations and the convergence at the near end of the project becomes a mess. Long distance employee relations and team management presents a challenge to many managers. The solution to this challenge could be a better collaboration effort by management and frequent information exchange. Using virtual communications like webinars and real-time internet webcasts enables continuous interaction while working in different time zones. Also all companies who collaborate globally must train managers around these issues to ensure smooth project execution.
Communication also hinders some information exchange, especially in those countries where there is less English speaking population. Good communications skills are essential in today’s global workplace culture. Learning a new language would add on to your credentials if you are exploring jobs abroad and even in multinational companies candidates knowing two or more languages would be preferred in certain sectors. Not only on the soft skills area, having different styles of coding also adds to the technical management challenges. The management must enforce a common protocol across teams and enable effective collaboration tools across workplaces. Continuous training and experience sharing must also be integral to a company’s policy.
“Clear communication is extremely important, both within the organization and outside of it. In some cases, in the beginning there can be a fundamental mismatch between what is being promised and what is actually sold. It is imperative to start off with a clear understanding – otherwise you are doomed.”
Tom Peters, a highly respected management guru, exemplified the truly global nature of most modern day work when he stated, “Do what you do best and outtarget the rest.” He went further by expounding, “Anything except intellectual capital is subject to outsourcing.”
Outsourcing in many ways has come to define what is meant by a global workforce. In a none-too-distant past, it was often a safe tool in the hands of typically Western Management to reduce costs. However, as times change, the benefits of cost arbitrage are fast being outweighed by the material and process improvements being brought about by working with best-of-breed vendors. Now the customer-vendor relationships are fast translating into mutually beneficial partnerships rather than just being driven by commercial motives. And it is in this new context one needs to view the roles of not just the organizations involved but also of the individuals who work and make a difference at the micro-level.
While the roles and deliverables of organizations and individuals keep evolving at an ever-growing speed, the attitudes and mentalities take a little longer to accommodate those changes.There is a pertinent need to constantly educate oneself and one’s employees to be more sensitive to foreign cultures and behavior. That’s perhaps one of the foremost requirements of a global worker. A good study of not just the project/work background but also that of the mindsets, customs and environment of the partner’s workplace, city and even country is a mandatory preparation. This ultimately will lead not just to a better understanding of the work characteristics but also to a more harmonious relationship with the partners. Just the way people greet each other when they meet differs so widely across geographies as we observe different cultures from Japan to Saudi Arabia to Spain to America. It’s not too difficult to imagine the positive impression one creates in the first meeting by displaying the interest and efforts one has taken to embrace the subtle nuances of the new place and people one is interacting with.
No perceptible change or relocation is without its fair share of inconveniences – travel, food, weather, language – they all form a variety of reasons why stress may be an invariable part of a global worker’s lifestyle. An important antidote to such apparent distractions would be to see them not as displeasing problems but as surmountable challenges. To see them as opportunities to learn and grow not just as a professional but as a human being. It’s up to us to decide whether the change has to make us bitter….or better.
The generation X has and continues to pave the path towards a successful global work culture and the Millennial generation is ready to take on the challenge that the global workplace offers, with improved communication technology, the world continues to shrink enabling 24/7 quality work and services to serve humanity.
To be successful in the global market keep abreast of the new technology and have a flexible attitude towards new ideas and tolerance in working with different cultures. Career coaches and experts/mentors with experience in the global workplace management can be invaluable to the new generation.