What Is The Effective Strategy To Manage International Teams?

May 29, 2023

Sunita Shakdher Menon leverages her expertise in human resources, digital transformation systems and M&A integration by sharing key steps to facilitate the effective management of global teams.

The current state of the global economy has affected the international labour market in different ways. A report published by the World Economic Forum states that higher-income countries are facing a shortage of skilled manpower, while lower-income countries lack job opportunities. To address this imbalance, organisations are prioritising improving the quality of work environments to retain and support employees’ skill development and career advancement.

The International Labour Organisation’s recent World Employment and Social Outlook report highlights a rising unemployment rate of 5.8% this year, limiting the quality of employment opportunities available. 

What does this mean for the corporate world? It puts organisations under the spotlight and focuses on the efforts made by senior management to build a happy, more efficient and engaged workforce. Managing teams globally can be challenging yet highly rewarding and requires a balance of knowledge across cultural norms and technologies at each operation site. Adaptation is critical for organisations to build a successful, diverse team across international locations, and senior management should be flexible in their approach. 

Headquartered in Dubai, the DataFlow Group is home to a diverse workforce of nearly 1,000 employees across six countries and uses a comprehensive international management strategy to navigate cultural differences.

As Chief Human Resource Officer at the DataFlow Group, Sunita Shakdher Menon leverages her expertise in human resources, digital transformation systems and M&A integration to develop and implement key strategies to create a people-centric culture that supports learning and development opportunities. Menon outlines key steps to facilitate the effective management of global teams.

Assess The Situation

Before developing and implementing key strategies, it is essential for organisations to consider the following:

  • Team structure: identifying and creating a clear structure with job roles and responsibilities helps establish ownership and accountability within an organisation.
  • Proximity to higher management: an organisation needs to assess the availability of employee engagement with senior management and determine if this limits or motivates teams.
  • Headcount versus efficiency: does team size really matter? Are larger teams more productive because they have more manpower, or can the smaller teams perform more efficiently because communication is easier and more transparent?

Larger teams can attract increased attention from senior management and feel increased pressure to perform. This can lead to high employee turnover, which is neither beneficial for the company nor its clients. On the other hand, smaller teams can feel unheard in organisations or that their opinions are not valid or of integral importance. Boosting employee morale through engagement-focused activities can help create better relationships but managers also need to offer one-to-one opportunities to ensure an employee’s individual needs and concerns are addressed.

The Impact Of Location

If teams are spread across different locations, it is essential to factor in time zones and work-life balance when creating task structures for remote teams. All employees should be considered and included in necessary meetings to ensure a collaborative working environment that increases work efficiencies. Scheduling meetings outside of office hours due to different time zones can affect morale. 

Implementing a hybrid work model with flexible arrangements between the office and home can improve work-life balance and increase productivity.

Management Styles

The influence of diverse management styles on employee motivation and productivity can vary. However, by considering and adjusting to various styles, leaders can customise their approach to align with the preferences and requirements of individual team members, leading to increased engagement and improved performance levels.

Effective management styles include:

  • Visionary: this stems from a leader who shares a purpose and direction for the company that employees believe in, motivating them to achieve goals.
  • Democratic: this allows the team to participate in decision-making. Managers have final approval but draw from the diversity of the team’s expertise to make informed decisions.
  • Transformational: transformational managers are innovators and encourage employees to step outside their comfort zone and motivate them to excel, leading to improved team performance.
  • Coaching: this is designed to improve an employee’s long-term professional development. Coaching managers strive to see employees grow and offer support as a mentor to help them achieve their full potential.

Regardless of the chosen style, leaders should effectively communicate expectations and ensure accountability. By demonstrating authenticity and consistency in fulfilling agreements, leaders can establish a trusted environment that drives growth within teams and the wider organisation.

Communication Styles 

Senior managers need to understand the language used to communicate with employees. Are senior management team members sensitive to cultural differences? As highlighted in a Harvard University article, developing effective communication skills involves being mindful of management styles and introducing new project management technologies to create an inclusive work environment.

Teams can feel disconnected if they perceive a lack of empathy or interest in getting to know them on a more personal level. Managers showing an interest in who employees are as individuals will help them feel seen, heard, and more engaged with the team. Agenda-driven conversations are productive. However, employee-focused meetings contribute to long-term happiness and retention.

Stay Accountable

It can be difficult not to let our thoughts, background and opinions affect how we see a situation and respond. As a leader, you must consider an employee’s background, age, gender and socio-economic status when interacting with them. Building relationships that encourage them to open communication and accountability for actions during critical situations, such as workplace bullying or harassment is critical.

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