Globalization has brought a long list of benefits to the business world, opening doors to new markets, new consumers and new opportunities for sourcing that have allowed businesses to lower costs and improve efficiency. Access to a global talent pool has made it infinitely easier to build skilled teams that can support growth and drive innovation.

Taking advantage of those benefits, however, requires most businesses to overcome new challenges. Operating in a global arena requires playing by global rules, which means new regulatory and compliance responsibilities. Supply chain and logistics complexity increase as a business’ footprint expands, and new business risks — including currency fluctuations, trade conflicts and political instability — must also be addressed.

3 Tips to Build a Resilient Global Team Culture

  1. Establish a foundation with virtual tools and communication.
  2. Add vulnerability to organizational transparency. 
  3. Embrace the dynamics of global teams.

Two of the most important qualities businesses must foster to thrive in the global business landscape are resilience and adaptability. Resilience is central to an organization’s ability to excel when faced with new challenges, while adaptability is the quality that prepares a business to pivot with changing conditions.

Businesses that build resilient and adaptable teams improve their chances of thriving in the ever-evolving landscape of the global business world. This will allow them to stay focused in the face of the unexpected and be flexible when new opportunities dictate a new course.

 

1. Establish a Foundation With Virtual Tools and Communication

The first step toward building resilient and adaptable teams is ensuring the foundation for a strong team is in place, meaning their purpose must be compelling and their goals clearly defined. Roles and responsibilities should be understood and open, and ongoing communication should be established to help each team member be empowered with all of the resources they need to accomplish what is expected of them. 

Consider utilizing asynchronous communication tools, providing mentorship, regular training on evolving compliance standards and fostering cross-team collaboration and workshops.

Monthly virtual training sessions facilitated by compliance experts could cover recent regulatory changes, case studies illustrating their impact, and practical steps for team members to stay compliant. Providing interactive Q&A sessions enhances engagement and understanding.

In global teams, diverse cultural backgrounds can lead to variations in communication styles, which may sometimes result in misunderstandings. It can be useful to have a dedicated mentor who provides team members with a direct channel for seeking guidance on effective communication, understanding cultural nuances and navigating potential challenges that may arise.

Cross-team workshops are another great way to ensure your teams are adaptable. Hosting virtual workshops that bring together team members from different regions to share best practices, discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions. This interactive format promotes cross-cultural understanding and strengthens collaboration.

High levels of transparency is also critical to building a resilient and adaptable team. Resilience is not built by a long string of successes but rather flows from failing, owning it, and pushing on. Leaders who try to perpetuate the CEO Superhero Myth — projecting an image of a leader with no shortcomings — won’t give their teams what they need to become resilient.

As such, leaders who want to build resilience in their teams must be transparent about their failures and show they, too, are only human. Leaders can enhance transparency by sharing personal learning moments in natural meeting conversations. For example, starting with “This week, I learned…” helps convey humility, making it relatable for the team to learn from both successes and failures.

Teams will have a difficult time seeing the value of resilience when they are following a leader who never appears to make a mistake.

When leaders make a mistake, they also need to be the first ones to admit it and share their plan for recovering and moving forward. Teams that see a leader press on despite setbacks see the power of resilience.

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2. Adding Vulnerability to Organizational Transparency

Being vulnerable is the next step in building resilient and adaptable teams. Transparency provides an honest assessment of the state of the business, but vulnerability lets leaders share how they feel about it.

When people are having a hard time, it’s up to leaders to put a voice to what they’re feeling, which is important when dealing with setbacks on all levels. If there is potential for emotion, leaders should create a space of vulnerability. 

During 1-on-1 meetings, consider intentionally setting aside time to discuss non-work-related matters. This provides a place for team members to share their thoughts, feelings and personal experiences, fostering a sense of openness and camaraderie.

COVID brought a storm of emotions into the business world. For many, it started with a feeling of dread and later triggered feelings of uncertainty, loneliness, sadness, and isolation weeks or months into the pandemic. During this uncertain time, the best leaders were able to remain transparent and express vulnerability by creating spaces to talk about what everyone was feeling — including their own feelings.

Vulnerability is a core facet of leadership because it helps establish and build trust. Vulnerable leaders share their open and authentic selves with their teams, and show they care about their teams and what they are going through. Talking about feelings is important, but how can you as a leader “walk the talk?” Leaders can show genuine care by openly addressing challenges they’re grappling with. Much like people connect with emotions in song, leaders voicing the emotions of their employees fosters a deeper connection during tough times.

The trust that flows from vulnerability provides the foundation for adaptability to create a sense of psychological safety, which instills the confidence employees need to follow leaders into new challenges. Trust also strengthens alignment, which fosters better performance when adapting to new challenges.

Trust is essential for leaders as they seek to empower higher levels of autonomy. Adaptability relies in large part on giving team members the autonomy they need to carry out their roles with minimal oversight, so the more global an organization becomes, the more important autonomy becomes.

Vulnerability also allows the human factor back into the business equation. When transparency is lacking, employees tend to get treated like commodities, with their value based on what they do rather than who they are. As that happens, employees have little reason to be resilient in the face of challenges.

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3. Embrace the Dynamics of Global Teams

Leaders who draw from the global talent pool to build teams must learn to manage a new set of team dynamics. Globalization brings cultures together, but when those cultures are not understood and appreciated, it can lead to tensions that undermine a team’s potential.

One of the biggest challenges leaders will have in this setting is fostering effective communication. In some cultures, exchanges are quick and to the point, whereas in others, being overly direct can be off-putting. If leaders don’t understand the nuances and help their teams to understand them as well, communication can lead to frustration and misunderstanding.

A general rule for leaders building globalized teams is that they will need to slow down to speed up. In the early stages of building the team, take as much time as necessary to make sure people can work well together, remembering that establishing a foundation of understanding is critical. Encourage open communication, active listening and showing empathy. The key is to convey that leadership is merely a different role on the same team. This approach creates a collaborative foundation where everyone feels valued and understood.

Building teams that bring together different cultures can provide a host of advantages to an organization by introducing new perspectives, providing access to new skills, and driving higher levels of innovation. However, none of that is possible if team members can’t understand each other, both culturally and from a communication standpoint.

Leveraging resilience and adaptability is also a critical part of building global teams. Cultural differences make things harder before they make things easier and may require innovative workflows. Resilience and adaptability give global teams what they need to connect and move forward.

Every business — no matter how well they plan — faces unexpected challenges and setbacks, and the risks associated with those challenges only increase as businesses enter the global marketplace. Consequently, resilience and adaptability become indispensable qualities that must be built into teams and reinforced as often as possible.

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