While a perennial hot topic, the challenge of managing international teams was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw global organizations shifting to remote or hybrid work schemes. The challenge, then, became not “managing international teams” but “managing remote international teams.”
A recent Deloitte report on leading remote teams hammers home the permanence of such a challenge: “As a leader in this new reality, you need to quickly embrace virtual as your new normal, and you need to be the virtual role model for your team. Now you have the opportunity to take virtual leadership to the next level and learn how to deliver impact differently.”
This challenge becomes more prominent when we view it through the lens of content marketing, where language and culture is not only important, but key to create content that resonates with global audiences. Here, we’ll take a look at steps you can take to build stronger, more efficient, and more effective teams of international, remote content creators.
What will you learn?
- How to approach varying levels of language fluency
- Why you must encourage participation from all team members
- The benefits of occasional in-person meetings
- Which technology platforms provide the greatest advantages
Focus on language
Reiterating the evergreen nature of international management, a 2015 Harvard Business Review article, entitled “Global Teams That Work,” lays a foundation for effective teams. While not solely focused on content creators, it nevertheless hits on a key point: “In global teams, varying levels of fluency with the chosen common language are inevitable – and likely to heighten social distance. The team members who can communicate best in the organization’s lingua franca (usually English) often exert the most influence, while those who are less fluent often become inhibited and withdraw.”
With this in mind, managers would be wise to urge teams – especially those strong in the chosen common language – to “slow down their speaking pace and use fewer idioms, slang terms, and esoteric cultural references when addressing the group.” Additionally, encouraging non-native speakers – who are often less confident public speakers – to actively contribute during meetings, without the use of a translator. They should also be “empowered” to ask for clarification should they not understand something, which “keeps them from being marginalized.”
Additionally, the article reveals, “global team leaders must keep track of who is and isn’t contributing and deliberately solicit participation from less fluent speakers,” thus further cultivating a team-centric culture – and leading to higher quality content that blooms from multitudinous backgrounds, points of view, and mindsets.
Meet in person – or at least face-to-face
A Content Marketing Institute (CMI) blog focused on managing remote content teams suggests quarterly, in-person meetings. Of course, this may not be always possible given geographical restrictions – not to mention costs of flights or other travel.
Nevertheless, agrees an article by HR solutions platform Ceridian, “make room in your budget for international travel. Face-to-face meetings are an essential component of building trust and good working relationships for all teams. This is even more important for global teams.”
These meetings don’t necessarily have to be planned every quarter – a meetup planned around a yearly event or conference, for example, could be enough. Is an in-person meeting really not possible? Schedule a virtual team event that’s not work-focused – and “embrace [its] awkwardness,” says Deloitte. Such events provide excellent opportunities for teams to bond, which will result in higher productivity and better results. Additionally, “stand-ups, check-ins, and regular team meetings … are key to making your team deliver.”
Collaborate with technology platforms
According to Deloitte, “70% of business professionals expect the use of online collaboration platforms to increase in the future. Virtual teams truly need to explore and incorporate technology into their ways of working to succeed.”
Adding to this – and framing it in the context of content marketing – CMI recommends using tools that enable instantaneous (and face-to-face) communication, such as Slack or Zoom. Doing so “can be a time-saver,” its blog states, and can also forge stronger bonds between colleagues and team members.
Whatever you do – and however you communicate – Deloitte adds, you would be wise to avoid sticking to only emails. “Figure out how you can use different platforms to communicate as to staying relevant and dynamic,” its report states. The more you switch things up, the more engaged your team will be. And an engaged team is a productive team, with McKinsey research revealing that people “who report having a positive experience have 16 times the engagement level of those with a negative experience, and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay” on a team.
And, when you’re ready, you can also check out Contentoo’s platform, which enables you to develop, grow, and strengthen your own international, remote content team, with instant communication and a real-time feedback system that is primed for the creation of excellent content – no matter where you are.
“Managing a remote team is almost a mandate in today’s business world,” CMI’s article concludes. “By focusing deliberately on the unique opportunities and challenges of your content team, you can stay ahead of the curve and of your team’s needs and daily challenges to deliver an even more effective content marketing program.”
Ready to see Contentoo in action? Request a live demo today.