I took my first global management job seven years ago. I had grown up in the Midwest and graduated from a Big Ten university. With the exception of living in Japan right out of college, my work experience was almost exclusively with North American companies. I had a lot to learn fast.
Happily, the last seven years have been the best of my career in part because of our global operating environment. I can’t imagine working any other way. The complexity of the challenges and the opportunity to learn from others is unsurpassed. Working globally, however, isn’t easy. Through trial and error, I have learned a few practices to become a better manager of international teams.
Persistence overcomes challenges
Leading a global team isn’t a straight path. There are side trips, missteps and misunderstandings. Cultural and language differences create serious and sometimes amusing mistakes. A successful global leader, therefore, is persistent. (read more…)
The approach to time in the U.S. is usually described as sequential, which can be simply summarized: People arrive to meetings on time; they focus on the present; they plan for the future; they learn from the past through brief analysis. The emphasis is on continuously moving forward. This is typical to a monochronic approach to time.
However, Americans are often surprised that their concept of time is not commonly shared throughout the world. How people interact with time is actually a reflection of predominant values in a society. In other parts of the world, the relation to time is synchronic, which means that the past, present and future are equally important. So if you set up a meeting and something comes up at the same time of this meeting, one can prioritize the current event over the prior commitment. In Indian society, the conception of time can be even more complex. (read more…)
“The thing that is interesting to me as a politician who’s been out of office a few years and now I see the world is how much I didn’t know, which is really shocking.” — Tony Blair, former British prime minister, on April 9
Tony Blair was discussing his experience with Margaret Thatcher, his efforts toward global health and peace, and was even a bit self-critical when I saw him speak April 9 at my alma mater, Baltimore-based Loyola University Maryland.
His statement above should concern leaders of all stripes. Blair is educated, presumably inquisitive and, as prime minister, had access to incredible stores of information, as well as staff and advisers to help him parse the data. Regardless of how much advice and detail he wanted to hear or what he did with that information and counsel, few would think that the leading political official in a Western democracy would have a lack of available knowledge. (read more…)
Yahoo and CEO Marissa Mayer have made up their minds on telecommuting, but your company may be debating whether to allow it. Or, perhaps, your company does allow work from home but would like to improve the process.
What should you be assessing? What are the perils and benefits? What role does your company culture play in success or failure?
I asked three people who deal with telecommuting every day for their thoughts. At the broadest level, they had three keys:
- Being prepared: Know what your company’s DNA is like and what you’d like to accomplish before enacting a work-from-home policy.
- Communication: HR and leadership must communicate the policy and monitor it afterward, and teams must communicate with each other (and maybe even more than when everyone is physically present).
- Technology: Far-flung employees can benefit from technology that brings them together, but they can also be isolated by it when it comes to innovation, collaboration and interaction.