Ensuring Teaming Success

September 15, 1998 · by Debby Young

As more firms find themselves operating globally, firm management is often charged with the task of aligning staff and technology resources not only across business units but countries and cultures.

CIO's Debby Young offers ten strategies to help make your global team a success:

1. Incorporate diversity. It's a powerful tool to gain project buy-in and brings insight into local conditions that may affect project success.

2. Build Trust. Take time to cement relationships among members to help transform "us" and "them" into "we".

3. Create Team Identity. A team Web page on the corporate internet or special program to gain the group corporate recognition will heighten their sense of importance.

4. Build Consensus. Make sure that members at all levels share the vision; otherwise you'll keep coming back to that issue every time there's a disagreement.

5. Teach Sensitivity. When everyone is in sync about the proper protocols for processes that differ from one location to another, the project runs more smoothly.

6. Establish Ground Rules. To avoid misunderstandings and frustration, global teams need to follow common ground rules for communication, dealing with conflict, running meetings and other project activities.

7. Be Fair. Be consistent in compensating team members. Boost morale by offering incentives when they meet project milestones.

8. Communicate Progress. Make sure you share critical data among team members in a timely fashion. Keep management or other interested parties aware of successes and setbacks. Toot your own horn when things go well. Solicit new ideas when you're stymied.

9. Designate Responsibility.Especially when time and distance separate participants, it's easy for tasks to fall through the cracks. You can avoid a lot of finger pointing if you document exactly who is responsible for what.

10. Go Face to Face. No matter how well you keep in touch, time and distance often cause minor problems to escalate. It's important to get global team members together to promote productive brainstorming and help iron out difficulties, realign priorities and reinforce a sense of community and common purpose.

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