The Keys to Effective Communication in a Global Team (Guest Contribution from Jennifer Hahn Masterson)

The following post comes to us from Jennifer Hahn Masterson, an experienced content strategist with a focus on business communication. Learn from Jennifer how to effectively communicate with your team, even when they seem “worlds” apart.

The global pandemic might have forever altered the way we live and work. But it also woke many business owners up to the benefits of employing international teams. But with global teams, the issue of inclusivity can easily arise. And inclusivity is something that can only be achieved when you’ve got a stellar and effective communication strategy in place!

Your global team is bound to speak different languages, live in different time zones, and have different cultures. And these differences can be tricky to navigate.

Want to know what the secret to cross-cultural communication is? A global, multilingual mindset! Read on to explore our top tips for effective workplace communication in a global team.

Keep Time Zones in Mind

Let’s suppose one of your employees is based in South Africa, and another is based in Florida. You might immediately assume that language can be a barrier to effective communication. But the biggest hurdle to workplace communication here is the time zone difference.

However, time zones become less of a challenge to effective communication if you use an intranet or other communication channels with searchable employee databases that include everyone’s location and time zones. To help promote digital wellbeing, your employees should be allowed to switch off their notifications for communications and respond to them as soon as they get “back in the office.”

Facilitate Multilingual Company-Wide Communications

An international, remote team has exceptionally strong language capabilities. They’re equipped with the kind of soft skills they need to build a human connection that Google Translate can take a few tips from. But the ability to understand linguistic and cultural nuances and colloquialisms doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges involved with remote teams. Especially if you’re sending out company-wide messages on communication channels in just one language that global employees don’t speak.

It’s advisable to publish company-wide communications on the company intranet (or HR management tool that your employees use). Make sure your entire team has access to a translation tool so they can translate the communications if need be. This way, you’ll know that every employee gets the message in a language they understand and has the ability to communicate effectively as well.

Celebrate All Special Days in Communications

Most of us are all too familiar with the annual Christmas messages we get from HR. But when you’ve got an international team as the engine of your vehicle, you need to think outside the Western world’s customs and traditions. Thousands of people celebrate Yule instead of Christmas, and many more choose to skip the celebrations altogether.

Companies need to recognize all holidays equally, and if there’s no room for planning greeting campaigns for each individual celebration to accommodate your global team, stick to a general holiday greeting instead!

Promote Cultural Competence and Continual Learning of Cultural Differences

Employees from different countries and different cultures bring with them new ways of thinking, which can help companies steer clear of narrow-minded thinking. But to implement these new ways of thinking, you’ll need cultural competence. This means being mindful of customs and having open discussions with new employees about cultural taboos. It’s in the hands of the HR department to create a guideline for the company’s internal culture, and that culture must be promoted across the company.

An ‘international day’ is a great idea for bringing teams together and helping everyone learn more about the culture, home country, and language of their team members. You can also bring an external speaker in to host a cultural awareness session through Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

Use Innovative Approaches to Bring Teams Together

There are very few opportunities for global teams that are located across the world to meet face-to-face. But if the pandemic showed us anything, it was that employees don’t need to be in the same office to make connections and build on those professional relationships.

The modern, digital workplace can be the foundation that helps keep your teams connected, but you need to be proactive about this. You can create opportunities for meeting with virtual coffee chats, team-building activities, and global catchup sessions through platforms like Zoom and Teams.

Consider Using Real-Time Interpreting Services

If you’ve got the technology you need to facilitate global team communications, you’re already equipped with everything you need to bring an interpreter into the mix if needed. At times, a member of your international team might need assistance in his or her native language.

It is your duty as an employer or HR manager to ensure they have access to professional language services when you don’t have the internal resources to bridge the language gap. It’s good to know that certain companies allow you to download the interpreting app for free. All you have do once you have downloaded the app is to log in and request a real-time phone interpreting service when you need it. As simple as that.

Ensure Company-Wide Workplace Communication is Relevant

It’s estimated that two-thirds of employees are less productive due to an influx of communications. When you bombard your teams with too many irrelevant messages, that’s what they’ll start treating them as: irrelevant.

Part of the key to successful communication is ensuring you’re giving the right message to the right people at the right time. If you’re sending out a company-wide message, make sure you target the right department in your communication.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, it’s not rocket science to ensure effective communication in a global team and improve workplace communication. As long as you pay attention to time zones, cultural norms, and keep company-wide communications relevant, you should be well on your way towards creating an effective and efficient communication strategy for your multinational team.

Remember that cultural competence is a big deal when it comes to a thriving global workforce, and although it’s harder for team members that are scattered across the globe to meet face-to-face, where there is a will, there is always a way to improve!

About the Author: Jennifer Hahn Masterson is the Lead Content Strategist at Spread the Word Solutions, holding an MA degree in business communication. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever-so-competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. You can check her out on LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “The Keys to Effective Communication in a Global Team (Guest Contribution from Jennifer Hahn Masterson)

  1. Good tips from Jennifer. I would think many of the multinational corporations are indeed on top of these excellent points. Some could be covered by infrastructure implementations like MS Outlook, Google Hangout, etc. But others would have to be special emphases. Not sure if HR is the right source driving these cross-cultural initiatives or is it the Executive suite. Nevertheless, points well taken. Thanks for sharing.

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