It’s practically impossible for a multi-national company to exploit economies of scale and scope, support knowledge transfer or cultivate a global mindset without understanding and mastering the art/science of teamwork.
Of course, even domestic teams can be plagued by the problems of misaligned goals, a skills gap or fuzzy team objectives. But global business teams face the additional obstacles of differences in geography, language and culture. Being unable to break down communication barriers or cultivate trust among members can doom teams of otherwise competent individuals to failure.
Crossing time zones, continents and cultures
It’s not just the logistical challenges posed by time zones or linguistic barriers. When people can’t see one another’s body language or reactions, the emotional component of a team’s success suffers. Certain cultures, such as those in the US and the UK, are highly individualistic, and come to the table with a different set of values, norms, assumptions and behaviours to those from collectivistic cultures, such as Japan and China.
Mutual trust is also critical to the success of team efforts, by encouraging co-operation and minimising any conflict which can hinder progress. Diversity can be a huge asset to a project, as each individual brings a unique perspective to the group. But trust can only be fostered by frequent, high quality communications that allow differing viewpoints to be truly “heard”.
Built-in features for an inclusive meeting
Savvy organisations are turning to business-grade online meeting tools to improve collaboration among distributed teams, with beneficial outcomes:
Global alignment for faster progress – tricky schedules and distance are no longer an impediment to getting together, so contributors can meet more regularly and sustain momentum.
- A high quality meeting experience – such as that provided by HD video – offers a distinct advantage to those communicating in their second or third language, since lip-reading is a huge boost to listening comprehension.
- Receiving you loud and clear – by eliminating interference or distortion, crystal clear audio reduces the amount of concentration required for a non-native speaker to follow the dialogue.
- I see what you’re saying – screen-sharing and the ability to record the entire meeting session can prove a vital reference for anyone who may have missed key points and is reluctant to ask the presenter to repeat them at length.
Are you looking to cement a cross-cultural team, establish a new collaborative project, or simply enable people who don’t sit together to work together? You can find out more about how organisations like yours are using online meetings to connect colleagues in our “Teamwork” infographic