How To Lead Global Teams As A PA
Businesses today are relying on a geographically diverse workforce to flourish within the global economy. They can cherry-pick talent from a competitive global pool – bringing together the greatest experience as well as local market knowledge. Thus, enabling them to successfully function and compete in today’s global economic market.
Whilst the advantages of a diverse team can be immense – it can be challenging enough forming a successful local working group, so a global team adds a whole other dimension for Personal and Executive Assistants. Global Leaders need to be effective communicators and motivators, with a good knowledge of different cultural backgrounds. They should be mindful of cultural norms, differences, ethics, empower their teams to make decisions and help foster a respectful working environment.
As a PA or EA consider taking some of the following actions to help bridge the gaps that come with leading a team that is both geographically and culturally diverse.
- Know your teams time zones and be considerate of these. You can add multiple timezones to your Outlook calendars so you can easily view these, without having to do the maths each time! Need to know how to do this? The Assistant Room membership has everything you need to develop your tech skills.
- Create shared calendars to help keep abreast of your team’s location, utilising a holiday calendar for absence as well as a travel calendar when the team are visiting different company sites can be very useful. It’s a good practice to show you are respectful of their time and commitments.
- For staff calls, find the least inconvenient time for your team and schedule for then. For instance, if you have team members in Europe, Asia, and US you might find the optimal time is 12pm – 2pm BST/GMT.
- And finally, avoid global calls on Friday’s, this removes the need for colleagues as far as Asia to be on-call late at night and working into their weekend.
Communication & shared resources
- Make resources available to all and easily accessible, shared storage systems such as ‘Box’ and ‘Dropbox’ are great examples of this. You can also create team distribution lists which allow you to email the full team at once, rather than typing names individually where you risk missing someone off!
- Consider local languages and disabilities, you could provide translations of official communication, e.g., newsletters and videos. If it’s a recorded message, you could also add subtitles to make it more accessible. If you’re nervous about missing a trick, google the embassy relative to the country you are working with to identify key points that may assist you in providing the best support possible.
- Since the pandemic, more businesses are utilising technology platforms for virtual communication such as MS Teams, Zoom and Google Meet. Encourage everyone to turn on their cameras so you can see each other and have an engaged discussion. Virtual face-to-face interaction can boost team bonding.
- Look at scheduling offsites, mix business with opportunities for connection. If budget allows, make the effort to rotate the location.
- Check in with your teams frequently, establish a work pattern and preferred method of communication. Also, show flexibility should your staff need to contact you on something critical out of your usual timezone working hours.
- Virtual celebrations are a great way to recognise achievements and observe special occasions online for global teams. Whilst acknowledging achievements, they can also be a fun way to relax together. We’ve hosted themed cocktail parties, escape rooms and murder mystery events. You could also create personalised care packages.
- For something more low-key a quiz is an enjoyable way to bring everyone together. You could even offer prizes to increase friendly competition. You could also look at virtual leaving cards, GroupGreeting.com is a favourite of ours.
- Social media shout outs are another option to celebrate team wins, LinkedIn members can publicly give ‘kudos’ to their connections. It’s basically a virtual high-five to acknowledge a great achievement.
- For something more formal, you could look at an online award scheme where your team can claim local gift cards as a reward.
Health & Wellbeing
- Encourage your teams to take regular breaks, eat lunch away from their desks and be transparent when scheduling wellbeing to help foster a culture of wellbeing as a priority.
- Optimise online resources to help promote health and wellbeing to your global workforce. There are several virtual fitness programmes that you can provide employees access to as a benefit, or subsidised offering. You can also find several free workout content posted by YouTube creators (e.g., Joe Wicks) which you could promote. It doesn’t need to be a vigorous activity, something as simple as a daily stretch break to help boost mobility and build a healthy habit is a great start.
Whatever you do to manage and lead global teams remember that it’s never going to be a walk in the park. With the speed of change to culture, current affairs and the way everyone does business remember to prioritise your mental health and lean on a community you know will have your back regardless.
Credit: Lauren Mulligan Executive Assistant to the Global Integrated Supply Chain Leader at GE Healthcare / Ambassador at The Assistant Room