Top Tips for Building a Global Organisation Model
Part of our 'In my Experience' series of articles
In my experience, building a global organization model is a great opportunity for a business and the individuals in it to excel but it does not come for free or without potential risks. I have a lot of experience working in global organizations, building and leading teams, setting organizational and operational models, defining best practises etc and I'm going to share some of my key learning points in this article. Points I'm listing might seem like "no-brainers" but it is amazing how often we forget about getting the basics right and just go full speed ahead and pay for it afterwards.
Here is my Top 7 list:
- Don't Rush
- Be prepared as a leader - win support
- Be truly global
- Share responsibilities
- Understand the cultural differences
Those that jump right into work look efficient at first, but will eventually struggle. Organizations that succeed are guided by people who are aware of the scale of the global team challenge and spend time planning, evaluating and communication before introducing change.
Be prepared as a leader - win support
Leading a global team is very different than leading a local team. Leaders will need to be ready to spend a lot of time communicating and listening, need to understand cultural differences and demonstrate clearly that they treat regional teams equally. Win support and you will be successful! Don't be afraid to share this goal with you team.
It is important to communicate no matter what the organizational model is but you will have to over emphasize it in a global model. Successful teams have a clearly defined and understood model for all communications using various methods. Face-to-face meetings are critical but it is not possible to fly people around the world all the time so you need to schedule regular video conference and telephone meetings instead. People sitting close to you will have an opportunity to talk to you in person a lot and you have to make sure people working remotely don't feel that they are missing out. Don't assume you are doing a great job- ask people how you are doing and they will tell you!
Be truly global
Assigning global owners for key areas of responsibility i.e. functions, projects etc. is critical when running a truly global organization. These key individuals will help to build and run an effective global organization. Your organization will need to define global best practises, tools and processes and this way you will get the maximum benefits of a global organization. Not doing don't do this will create an organization with a number of remote teams working independently.
There is always going to be some level of competition between teams and the same applies to global organizations. The big difference with global teams is that they will almost by default think that leaders will give the most important tasks and responsibilities to people sitting next to them. There is only one solution to this: You have to demonstrate that each team is assigned critical projects and more "complete chunks" you can assign, the better it is. A global organization is going to be successful when people & teams clearly understand their role in the overall business and their contribution is valued.
Understand the cultural differences
We are all very different and you need to be aware of that even more when you are dealing with people outside you native environment. What is common and acceptable in your culture could be a complete "No -No" in another. Put some time and effort learning about traditions, management styles, food, etc. and ask people in your remote locations to help you. Simple things like saying hello in their own language can make a huge difference.
The six items above will have an impact only if teams receive sufficient money, time, and executive support. You will need money for travel, offsites, communications etc. Time requirements are often hard to predict, but be prepared for late evenings and early mornings depending on the time differences. Make sure your executive sponsors understand and care about spectacular, long-term and lasting results.
And finally always remember Point One - Don't Rush. You and your team need have time to gain traction before being expected to produce results.