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Communication tools for the Global Team Leader June 3, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Leading globally, Team basics, Uncategorized.
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The Big Dogz not only employ the most effective communication technology, they also use special techniques to facilitate the exchange of information.

Availability map

One of the most perplexing problems faced by the global leader is what time of the 24 hour day do we have meetings or just interact with each other? An answer is the availability map.

This tool is used to describe your availability situation visually. Sometimes seeing the situation visually can help give insights to how best to solve your problem. First you get a copy of the world time zone map. I have attached one for your use.

First find your location on the map and draw a straight line representing your normal work day, usually 8 hours. The line starts in your time zone and goes west for 8 time zones. Next find the locations of your global team members and draw a line for each of them. Use the start of their time zone as the start of the day. When you are finished, you will have a set of parallel lines that may or may not overlap. Using this picture, figure out how you will handle the issue of availability.  

I have attached a sample of a completed availability map for a widely dispersed global team. As you can see on this map, there are no easy solutions, but we now have a better definition of the problem.

Super communications

If I need to talk to someone, when will they be there? Of course the hours of availability provide an excellent opportunity to communicate. For a specific time in those hours, set aside time for all communications technology to be enabled. This means:

 Cell phones and pagers on

IM enabled

Voice mail check

Email check

Be around to answer the phone

Electronic huddle

Need to get everyone together for a quick announcement. Use the electronic huddle. Any of the group communication technologies work for the huddle. These impromptu meetings are short and focused on one topic.  When your team has mastered the control to keep huddle meetings short, you can add status reporting to the list of topics. Here are some effective topics for a huddle:

Kickoff a mini project

Recognition of a team member

Identify help people need

Disclose discoveries

Congratulations or greeting for a cultural event

Team website

Need a place to post announcements and to store documents? Using a free project management solution like ActiveCollab can address most of your needs to store information that is vital to the team. Or, those of you in large corporations check this out with your IT person. Most IT organizations have the capability to set up your website. Here is just some of the information that could be stored on the web:

 Check lists

Contact points meeting minutes

Project assignments

Status reports

Breaking news

Pictures and bios of team members

Links to resources

Make sure you let everyone know when the website has been updated.

Availability map

Availability map sample

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Leading a global team April 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Team basics.
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Do you have to lead global teams? Many companies are expanding globally to take advantage of the basic economics of hiring workers. While some of us may not agree with that strategy, it is widely adopted. It is not the purpose of this entry to discuss the viability of international outsourcing. It is my purpose to give you some tips and techniques on how to be more effective in that environment.

 Some of the most common challenges facing managers and leaders in a global environment are:

  • Staying connected
  • Time differences
  • Alignment or mis-alignment of goals
  • Language
  • Culture differences
  • Expectations of senior management
  • Managing performance

 Not everyone can be successful as a global manager or leader.  Effective global leaders typically have:

  • A willingness to communicate, form relationships with others, and try new things
  • Good cross-cultural communication and language skills
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness about other cultures
  • The ability to determine if a global worker is performing up to expectations

 The principles that guide us in becoming an effective team leader with co-located teams also apply in the global arena. However, the effective global leader is aware of four factors that affect their performance in a global situation.

1.      Pay more attention to time. Things just take longer when you are acting globally. It is sometimes difficult to convince senior management of this concept, but it is true and the global leader must consider it. In addition, the effective global leader understands that not everyone lives in the same time zone.

2.      Have more patience. Since things take longer and people do things differently across the globe, the effective global leader has more patience. I once had a manager tell me, “I know I need to learn more patience. How long will this take?” Learn how to breathe deeply or learn the art of Zen or something to increase your patience. You will need it.

3.      Make effective use of technology. The purveyors of technology are rapidly working to close the global gap. Global leaders have telephone and visual technology available to access people in any part of the world. Learn the technology and use it to help you close the global gap!

4.      Adapt to different cultures. When everyone shares the same building, it is easy to interact culturally. Once you go more than 50 miles, nuances start to creep into the culture. Just imagine the cultural differences when the person is over 5000 miles away. It is the responsibility of the global leader to create a team culture. That culture must not violate any of the cultural taboos of the global community.

 Using these four factors as a foundation, I will be writing a series on leading global teams with emphasis on communicating, building rapport and getting results.  Stay tuned.

Leading globally September 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, business strategy, Management, Team basics.
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p5130012.jpg Having problems leading a global team, or even a remote team in your own country? The Big Dogz know about leading global teams. Everything you know about leading teams that are co-located with you applies to global teams as well. All those things you do to create a vision that excites, objectives that are SMARTER,  an environment where people can choose to be motivated and a high performing team that achieves extraordinary results. Yes, all those things are also done with global teams.

 

The Big Dogz know that special attention must be paid to four specific areas to effectively lead a global team. These four areas are:

  1. Time
  2. Patience
  3. Technology
  4. Culture

 

Time is probably the most important aspect of leading a global team. As the leader, you must be aware of the time zone differences and specifically what time of day is it for your team members. Some folks are more productive in the morning, some in the afternoon and some in the evening. Asking your team to perform extraordinary results outside their prime time can result in underachievement. Another element of the time aspect is that it will naturally take longer to accomplish the same thing remotely as it does to accomplish that thing locally. Too many leaders fall into the trap of “I can do that announcement in a 10 minutes meeting here, it will take me 10 minutes on a global conference call — this is a recipe for disaster!

 

Since everything takes longer in global teams, the leader must have more patience. It is fine to ask for the same type of results in the same time period as local teams produce, but you will be frustrated and your team will think less of you. In other words, you will lose personal power! Expect the best, but do not show your frustration when you can not achieve your goals in the same time period. How do you demonstrate patience? If you are asking this question, you are not demonstrating patience. Be more relaxed with your global team and develop repeatable processes that will accelerate the results you expect. The first time you ask your global team to accomplish a result, they will try hard, but it will likely take more time and resource that you estimated. Learn from your interactions and set realistic expectations.

 

Global leadership is impossible without technology. Be aware of the latest in technology, especially video technology. Having meetings using a service like Live Meeting or Webex does wonders for getting clear understanding. Using webcams is becoming more prevalent for having face to face meeting across the globe. The effective use of voice mail, e-mail and team websites can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the global team. The key is to match the technology to the communications. Use voice mail and email for the transmission of facts or announcements. Conference calls with Live Meeting for team problem solving is an effective technology selection. For sensitive face to face situations, use video conferencing or webcams.

 

Not everyone is like me is a principle that applies to the global situation. Wherever you are in the world, there is a culture around doing business. And, everyone where you are thinks that this culture is the best in the world! Well, it may be, I am not going to argue that point. I will tell you that others think as highly of their culture as you do of yours. When you are operating globally, you must create a team culture that is accepted by all members of the team. There will be a predominant culture based upon the country of origin of the company. In British Petroleum the core culture is British. In Toyota, the core culture is Japanese. You get the idea. The Big Dogz know that you must honor and acknowledge the local culture or you will not be successful. Find out key beliefs and practices of the local culture and incorporate them into your global team culture.

 

Off shore outsourcing and global teams was supposed to make us more competitive and more effective. If you do not follow these guidelines, global teams can become a huge headache for you rather than a solution to your global problems.

Team basics May 16, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Team basics, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want extraordinary results? Create a team! The Big Dogs use teams to solve their most difficult problems. Teams can be used to increase profits, improve employee engagement and to raise morale. Let’s look at what makes a team.

 

Most people think a team is a group of people, working together, for a common goal. The Big Dogs know there is one more element to making a group a team. That element is dependency. For a team to exist there must be a dependency that is acknowledged and committed to. Knowing the dependency exists is not enough — there must be a tacit acknowledgment and a firm commitment to the dependency.

 

Think of a group of mountain climbers who are roped together. Now that is a visible, acknowledged and committed to dependency. If you are to have a team that will create extraordinary results, then you must learn about dependency.

 

The Big Dogs also know that there are five principles that must be adhered to for a group to become a team. Here they are:

 

  1. Differences make a difference. In strong teams the people on the team come from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. It is not necessary that the people look different. It is necessary that they think different.
  2. Everyone contributes. Everyone on the team performs a significant function that is recognized as significant by the others on the team. People not only need to belong to groups, they need to contribute to those groups. There are no slackers on teams.
  3. Share information. In order to keep everyone up to date and to build trust, people on teams communicate all the information they know to each other. There is no information hoarding. When a team member is behind in their tasks, they ask for help. When they are ahead, they volunteer to help others. No secrets and no cliques are the rule.
  4. Trust is everything. People on teams make and keep their agreements. There are no games where I say one thing and do another. Your word is your most important currency on a team. If the trust is violated, all chance of teamwork diminishes. Commitments are not made lightly.
  5. Belief in achieving the extraordinary. Every member of the team believes it is possible for the team to achieve its goal. That goal is perceived as worthy of effort and will in some way distinguish the team from all other groups. Everyone is excited about and focused on achieving the goal.

 

Do you want to have extraordinary teams in your organization? Do what the Big Dogs do; create dependency into your group and follow these five principles.