#INBOUND17: How to Lead Multicultural Remote Teams

by Elif Hiz on October 20, 2017

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According to Gallup Research, only 13% of the global workforce feels engaged. Is there a way to connect to the whopping 87% of employees who are disconnected from their company? Learn how to create connections with your team members, especially in remote and multicultural environments.

 

This text is inspired by “Leading Across Time Zones and Diverse Cultures” talk given by leadership speaker Dima Ghawi at #INBOUND17

 

Connecting the Team by Building Relationships


The time of big bad bosses who rule their realm through intimidation is over. If you think otherwise, simply google the examples of companies that failed because the employees were too terrified to tell their superiors that the deadlines or desired product features were simply not realistic. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a hierarchy and a clear sense of who is in charge of what, but there should always be room for discussion and suggestions that might come from anyone starting with the temp who just got onboarded to the member of the C-suite.

Assign mentors to help new hires learn the ropes and start feeling like a part of the team as soon as possible. Some people start their jobs feeling too intimidated to ask for directions and clarifications out of fear of looking incompetent, which is why they need someone they know they can count on to give them a nudge in the right direction.

 

Connecting the Team Members With One Another

Multiculturalism is possibly one of the most significant aspects of working in a remote international team, as it gives every employee a chance to learn about different countries and cultures without leaving their living room (or favorite coffee shop, hammock, or preferred workspace). Instead of ignoring the diversity and trying to enforce uniformity, let everyone’s cultural flag fly high. Organize informal meetings or talks where everyone gets to share interesting facts and stories about their country and culture, especially about events and conferences that might be of value to your industry.

 

The organization of face-to-face meetings can be both costly and complicated as it’s difficult to find the time frame that suits most team members while also making sure that everyone can get there without too much trouble. From our company’s experience, these face-to-face meetings aren't always required; with remote tools it's possible to create a strong team, brainstorm ideas even more efficiently, and form relationships that endure the hundreds of miles of distancewhen people. Knowing that there will always be someone to have coffee with whether the road takes you to Singapore, Italy, Turkey, or the USA is a feeling you can’t put a price tag on.

 

Encourage employees to share what makes them tick beside work – everyone has hobbies and interests they’d love to talk about. Not only you’ll notice people connecting based on shared interests, but you’ll witness the improvement in communication as well. We tend to be more understanding and friendly when we see the other person as a human, not a name with an avatar.

 

Connecting the Team With the Company Strategy

We’ve seen it happen in some companies: teams and departments are so disconnected from each other that they have no idea what the big picture is, which leaves people feeling like cogs in a machine whose way of working is a mystery to them. Making profit? Sure, it’s the ultimate goal of every sensible business, but what is the strategy behind it?

You know those team building events in some companies where conversations would go like this:

-So, you work in the X department? What exactly is that you guys do?

Then the other person would freeze, mumble something about their role, seeming baffled about the big picture and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Sounds familiar?

 

It's good to have regular quarterly meetings where representatives of each team or department share the results of the previous quarter. It's something we practice at Wings4U. Not only does this help put things into perspective and give us a chance to learn about the projects others were working on, but every success and every positive client feedback lifts the company spirit.

Another great result coming from these meetings is giving credit where credit is due. People get praised for their good work, and nothing motivates you to get better more than knowing that your efforts have been recognized and acknowledged. We recently invented a bonus system where team members can give points to others based on their achievements, which are made into bonuses at the end of each quarter based on the number of points earned.

 

Celebrate success. Even if you don’t have abundant resources, small tokens of appreciation can do the trick. Your ultimate goal is not to have people who are doing their job in exchange only for a paycheck, but instead individuals who feel like a part of the company they work for. This means they’re more likely to be happy to give their best and go the extra mile because they know that the company’s growth equals their personal growth.

 


Curious about other trending topics from this year’s #INBOUND17 conference? Check out: 
How to Use Content Marketing in Each Department of Your Business,  
7 Trending Best Practices for Creating Videos That Convert
3 Key Themes That Have Stuck With Me Since #INBOUND17.

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