By: Steve Crom (CEO & Partner, Valeocon)
Are you working internationally, through teams in different countries and wondering why things are not going as you would like? Here are 5 tips for getting better results:
1. Be Firm On The What, Flexible On The How
While the goal is the same, the starting point, local conditions are very different; therefore, the problems to be solved will be different. Test the rationale and link between the goal to be achieved and problems selected; however, leave plenty of room for variations on how to get to the final goal.
2. Be Patient And Aware Of Your Own Bias
What has worked for you personally in the past, isn’t necessarily what is right in a different cultural context. Be humble, be curious. Explore the differences and separate exotic excuses from fundamental differences important to respect since you want in the end a sustainable solution owned locally.
3. Plan For Differences In Speed
Expect that the launch across four or more countries will three times as long as you think it should. Once launched, expect that the rate of visible progress will be dramatically different; however, what appears to be lack of progress to you may well be what it takes to achieve consensus or craft together an overall concept, essential in some cultures.
4. Do Not Micro-Manage
Be sure to enroll the local country and functional leaders at the start of the project by asking “what would you like out of this initiative?” With their personal commitment you will have a much better chance of getting the best people on the project, allocating sufficient time, money and getting active sponsorship for overcoming hurdles when they surface, and they will!
5. Carefully Charter Each Team
Insist that each team write down on one piece of paper the following for their project: the problem to be solved, the business objectives to be achieved, what is in and out of scope, the linkages to other projects or initiatives, the deliverables, approach and milestones, team sponsor, members and key stakeholders.
Cultural differences are a natural, normal, exciting and a fun aspect of working internationally once they are understood and appreciated. The fundamentals of effective collaboration in a team are universal: a common goal, accepted roles, agreed ways of working, open and regular communication within the team and with their stakeholders. It is the personal engagement and commitment of local country and functional leaders that is the biggest single ingredient for success.