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Discovering a performance issue in a global team July 6, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Diagnosing performance problems, Fixing performance problems, Global communication, Global leadership, Leading globally, Performance issues.
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The Big Dogz know that the biggest problem with managing performance of a remote worker is to identity that there is a performance problem.  Time, culture and technology can mask the signs that a remote employee is having a performance problem. The effective global leader is aware of potential performance problem signals. What do you look for?

Here are some specific signals your global team member may send you:

  • Does not respond to email or voice mail
  • Does not make regular contact with you
  • Deliverables are late, does not notify you
  • Other members of your global team complain to you about the work products or delivery schedule
  • Does not participate in team conference calls
  • Misses status reports
  • Tries to redirect the performance conversation
  • Turns off the IM software
  • Is absent unexpectedly
  • Becomes defensive about questions
  • Updates are unclear or poorly worded
  • Claims computer systems problems keep from getting the work done
  • Describes problems in email rather than a phone call
  • Spending more time surfing the internet
  • Tell you everything is going “great”
  • Productivity is dropping
  • They are excelling at mundane tasks — ignoring major project tasks
  • They do not have awareness of project or company news

Observing these signs does not guarantee there is a performance problem. A general principle to follow is “Is there something unusual happening?” When you see behavior that is not normal, this is a good indicator that something is awry. If it is not a performance problem, then it is probably something you need to become involved with anyway.

The Big Dogz use these signs as guidelines — something to start investigating. As with all performance problems, you will first want to check the person’s ability to do the task assigned. Of course, the Big Dogz do that when they give a SMART objective; but if that assessment was incorrect, now is a good time to adjust. Use the performance feedback process to get the person’s action plan to bring performance back in line with your expectation. Include in your analysis, the workload, the priority in the team for this task and other factors that may affect the person’s ability to perform. Help the person to take action to fix these issues.

If the cause of the performance issue is not ability, then explore the willingness or motivational component of performance. They may have a confidence issue relative to the task. Perhaps you will have to increase your relationship activity with this person, such as encouraging them.

Responding to remote performance issues requires the use of the same techniques and approaches you would use with a co-located performance issue. Of course it will take more time, require the use of technology and adaptation to some cultural issues. The Big Dogz know that paying attention to the potential performance issue signs will pay off in the long run.

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.