Global business teams face a bevy of unique challenges. Not only must they overcome the obvious barriers—geo- graphic, linguistic and cultural – but global teams must also address issues
of cross-functionality, alignment and trust. These
are difficult matters even for teams operating in
the same office space, let alone for those spread
across the globe. Optimizing global teams takes
time and commitment, and in today’s ever-changing, fast-paced world, our clients need to
be reminded of that.
BARRIERS TO SUCCESS
Global teams may encounter numerous
disruptors that could lead to conflict or other
challenges. Potential disruptors could be a new
CEO, an operational update, or a shift in clients
or workload. If the leadership team doesn’t have
a strong foundation in place when these disruptions occur, it can result in decreased performance,
increased dysfunction and siloed interactions.
More specifically, most global leadership teams
I’ve encountered have dealt with challenges such as:
• a lack of trust among team members
• the inability to argue effectively (which requires a level
of comfort with each other)
• different approaches to handling conflict
• a lack of commitment to decisions made around talent
• a lack of accountability within the group
For example, while it may seem minor, one complaint I’ve heard from global teams is that one leader
wants to work only during his or her business hours.
The obvious fix is to implement a time rotation for
meetings across different time zones, requiring everyone to bend their schedules.
Dig deeper and you’ll find that the solution stems
from this philosophy: When a team comes together,
it’s about the success of the organization they are run-
ning—not the individuals. Individual roles must be
separated from the team. Instead of showing up wear-
ing function or business hats from their respective
locations, they must come together as equal mem-
bers of the team. Even if team members are dispersed
around the world, they should establish a goal they
can accomplish together as a group.
That would take them one step closer to becoming a more effective, functioning team—one that
will produce tangible results. Or, from an internal
perspective, their collaboration will help produce
a positive, thriving company culture—the kind of
place where people want to work. These are the benefits of team optimization that flows up, down and
around the organization.
Global Teams: Overcoming Barriers for Optimal Results
B Y MARY HERRMANN