3 Tips for Working in Dispersed Teams

November 4 2013 by Editorial - admin

Global Business Teams Offices AltHow many times have you had to wait for approval or feedback from a colleague or manager in a different office (and probably in a different country) because of the time difference?

This scenario is probably very familiar and has happened to each of us once, given that we either work in a global company or have to work with customers/business partners in other countries. So what should you do next time to take action, instead of sitting and twiddling your thumbs at your desk?

The answer is simple and perhaps common sense: have clearly established guidelines and accountability for who does what. I know, easier said than done. And much more complex when you are trying to establish such clarity for your global comms team, when team players are scattered across geographies, and languages, and reporting lines.

In our most recent webinar we discussed these global comms challenges and shared a framework for central-local partnerships with over 100 other communicators on the line, together with tools for managing various scenarios in the framework. Below are 3 key takeaways from the webinar session:

  1. Upfront team discussions about who does what will save you time in the moment when you need to make decisions quickly: Our featured panellist, Anders Schroll, Head of Communications at Lundbeck, shared how he has used the central-local partnerships framework in conversations with his global team to segment various communications activities and initiatives at the onset of the strategic planning process.  Having that clarity has enabled the team to better collaborate and coordinate across geographies. Hear more about how Anders used the framework with this team.
  2. It’s about cross-geography alignment, not consistency in every communication. The biggest challenge is achieving cross-geography alignment in communication. We took a poll of the hundred members on the line about where in the framework they face most challenges and the biggest area for most members on the line was aligning approaches across geographies without making local country communicators feel less empowered to act, but also making sure you present a “one company” image to your stakeholders. You can’t always have consistency since different markets have different needs, but you need to have an aligned communication strategy in key areas.
  3. Successful global communications teams involve country communicators in co-creating messages and comms plans: several members voiced the challenge of engaging country colleagues on execution of the corporate comms strategy. Often these country communicators report to country heads or have dotted line reporting, and their time and attention can easily be skewed towards local initiatives, as often happens in remote work environments. Some techniques for getting these local colleagues to buy into a common approach is to make them part of creating the comms plan, collaborating with them to streamline global processes taking into account their country needs, and helping them connect and collaborate with each other (see how Novo Nordisk, Novartis, and Lundbeck facilitate these peer connections through formal and informal tools).

These are only some highlights from the conversation – listen to the full replay to learn about what tools you can use today to start this dialogue with your country colleagues, so next time an issue arises, your teams are well equipped to respond. Check out also our full toolkit for Managing Communication Across Global and Dispersed Teams.

Related Resources (for CEB Communications members):

by Arlinda Mezini