How to Work With International Virtual Teams

What is it? A Definition:

There are many ways of defining what a multicultural team is. Still, I couldn’t find much of a definition on Wikipedia, so I’ll come up with my own 😉

I would consider three areas:

  1. Cross-Cultural Management
  2. How to work with International Virtual Teams
  3. Global Management

They all huddle around the same thing: have people with different cultural backgrounds conduct work harmoniously and effectively in different locations. What I mean with a multicultural team is a team that works in different locations around the world. This could be within one organization or between different organizations. Within one organization you can have different locations across the globe where people with different cultural backgrounds work. That’s where Global Management comes in.

But how to work with International Virtual Teams in the most effective way?

How to Work with International Virtual Teams from Different Cultures Is Not Easy

Research shows time and again: Managing people from different cultures is not easy. Cross-cultural management is hard and working with International Virtual Teams is a real challenge. A lot harder than people sometimes think.

Below is an overview of a management survey done by Price Waterhouse Cooper:

Challenges US and European senior executives say they face when managing teams across different countries around the world

  • Changing individual behavior  69 %
  • Cultural differences  65 %
  • Business practice differences  52 %
  • Headquarters too remote  44 %
  • Labour law differences  41 %
  • Accounting and tax differences  36 %

As you can see, managing multicultural teams around the world ranks second. Hopefully, that’s not a surprise.

The Benefits and PitfallsHow to work with International Virtual Teams

Let’s start with the negative pitfalls first. In my 20+ years of experience, most people in global management positions tend to focus on the so-called “hard variables“: Accounting, rules and regulations. Things like that.

The saying goes that “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast“. In other words, only focusing on systems, tools and rules will not (!) lead to a successful cross-cultural management operation. People will find workarounds to beat the system.

Now let’s look at the benefits. There are plenty of organizations, like Google, Apple (and smaller ones too) that have mastered the way to work successfully in their international virtual teams by managing those teams well. What do they get in return?

When managed well (and this is the crucial part!), diverse teams (compared to homogeneous teams):

  1. Are more creative
  2. Generate more and better alternatives
  3. Generate more and better criteria for evaluation
  4. Perform better on complex decision-making tasks

How to Beat the Competition?

If you work for an international organization and you value global management and you’re doing a good job in managing International Virtual Teams teams, you know that:

Your team has to become culturally competent.

Cross-cultural management involves taking the responsibility as a manager to make sure your people understand not only others but also themselves. Telling people to simply work together won’t work.

Often perceptions of each other have been shaped and set. That is very hard to offset.

However, if you provide people a framework within which they can place their stereotypes, their perceptions, and their frustrations, you can slowly peel the layers of the misconception away that often have been around people in teams that don’t really understand each other. In other words, you need to train your people (and yourself …) to become culturally competent.

So if you want to beat your competition, pay attention to cross-cultural management when you’re managing multicultural teams. Engage in global management and invest in yourself and in your people.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn more, below are three links to podcasts I have recorded that will help you better understand this topic.

Should you want to know and hear more about us, register for this FREE webinar which will be on February 2, 2021. You can do so by going here.

Chris Smit

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Book Chris Smit as a Speaker

If you're looking for an Engaging, Exciting, and Interactive speaker on the subject of Intercultural Management & Awareness you came to the right place.

Chris has spoken at hundreds of events to thousands of people on the subject of Cultural Diversity & Cultural Competence.

What Others Say About Chris:

  • “Very Interactive and Engaging”
  • “In little time he knew how to get the audience inspired and connected to his story”
  • His ability to make large groups of participants quickly and adequately aware of the huge impact of cultural differences is excellent”
  • Chris is a dedicated and inspirational professional”

His presentation can cover specific topics, or generally on Cultural differences.

Duration of any presentation can vary from 20 minutes to 2 hours and anything in between and is given World Wide.

Book Chris now by simply sending an email. Click here to do so.

Read more about what Chris can do for you.

 

  • % of People Rating a Presentation as Excellent 86% 86%
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Peter van der Lende International business development

Peter van der Lende has joined forces with Culture Matters.

Having had years and years of international business development experience joining forces only seemed logical.

Peter is born and raised in the Netherlands but has lived in more than 9 countries of which most were in Latin America.

He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) with his family.

You can find out more at https://expand360.com/

Or find out what Peter can do for you here.