Global Management: How to Develop a Team Culture

Global teams need to shape a common culture that provides all members with shared expectations and a sense of belonging together. Recognize that the team culture will evolve over time, but it can be accelerated by getting early agreement on shared values.

Communicating Well

The key to great teamwork is communication. Make sure that you and team members agree to keep language plain and simple. Take time to clarify any assumptions and keep checking for differences in meaning and perception. Ensure that everyone listens to what is being said. As the team leader, keep looking out for non-verbal behavior that indicates confusion or resistance, such as a frown. Encourage others to do the same. Set a pace that is comfortable for the whole team.

Encouraging Leadership

Reaching peak performance requires leadership behavior from everyone. This will involve team members challenging their conventional thought patterns, as well as each others limiting beliefs about what can be done. Encourage your team to be proactive, and help them deal with any friction before performance is affected. Resist any individuals or sub-groups who seek to impose their views, but remember to focus on solving problems, not assigning blame.

Shared Values

The leader must ensure a high level of trust on the team. Trust strengthens commitment. Encourage the following values:

  • Empathy: have concern for the well-being of all.
  • Fairness: treat each other equally, without bias.
  • Honesty: relate to each other straightforwardly.
  • Respect: value each others differences and contributions.
  • Sharing: share knowledge and expertise to produce the best outcomes for the team.

Things to Do

  • Work with the team to agree ground rules, such as punctuality or how to handle conflict.
  • Write these rules down and distribute them to all team members.
  • Periodically review the rules at team meetings, and collectively evaluate how well the team is following them.

Fostering Good Organization

Provide a sense of structure in your organization, so that procedures are clear. Encourage your team to define their roles so that everyone knows what is expected of them; record these definitions to avoid misunderstandings. Manage the workflow: make it clear who will receive what from whom and by when. In this way, you will help your team to manage its time and processes so that targets are achieved. Review progress regularly.

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