It was a team effort — a global team effort. A team that had worked together for ten months and had not seen or met in-person.
Here’s how I made it happen.
Always start with trust, especially when working with global teams virtually. You all have the same goals, but building trust will make the project more successful, fun, and efficient.
As I worked with the project team, I was trying to figure out what I did to build the trust, and it came down to first starting by trusting others. I set the team goals, assigned roles, and held the team accountable.
Within your organization, teammates are working toward the same goals; they just need to be reminded about the purpose.
As the leader, ensure you take the time to create the story. Once you have the story, get buy-in from key stakeholders and socialize and stay consistent with the story and the goal of the project. If the goals change, be transparent and inform the team about the change and the reason behind the change.
[Related: How to Build an Effective Team with a “Me to We” Shift]
Setting an example
As I mentioned earlier, the team was held accountable, and I was the first to start with accountability.
When tasks were assigned, I was on the list and met my due dates consistently. Meeting notes were sent out on time, meetings were started and ended on time, and proper project management principles were used.
When your team members see the right behavior from you, they will follow suit.
I was working with teams across the US, Asia, and Europe on this project.
Just trying to find the time to meet as a team was a challenge! I showed flexibility — evening calls with APAC and morning calls with Europe and MEISA.
If you start with latitude, and the team sees that, they will reciprocate. You will get to a point where everyone will adjust their schedules for the benefit of the project.
When we started the project, e-mails were flying around with questions that genuinely needed more in-depth conversations. The team culture was started this way, but I took a different approach and asked that all issues to be brought to a weekly meeting.
Having weekly meetings seems like a small change, but it had a significant impact on alignment, goals, and the work that was done during the sessions. My management has told me multiple times that the success of the project started with these meetings.
[Related: Want to Save Your Company From Scandal? Give the Gift of Culture]
During calls with various regions and team members, similar questions came up, and instead of sending them to the other region or member, I pulled up the e-mail or the document right there and shared my screen.
We reviewed the material and identified the challenge and address. If other stakeholders were needed, we set up a follow-up call within the week. Addressing the issue quickly led to clarity for the team and kept us moving forward.
After working with the team for over ten months, I had the opportunity to meet them in-person, and it made the project complete. Here are a few items I planned for the in-person meeting.
The group was going to consist of 30 people from eight countries with different priorities. To ensure we started off well, I asked a simple question that would help us find common ground. After that initial question, which the team had to answer as part of their intro, the meeting went well.
The group included SMEs, and I needed their knowledge for us to identify the gaps. Once gaps were identified, we needed to find short-term solutions.
The team in the room was the group that would tell me what was wrong with the product I had spent a year building. I went in with a growth mindset and listened to all the ideas to enhance the product line.
Working on global cross-functional projects is a lot of fun if you take the time to build the right culture for the team and start with trust.
“This article was originally posted on the Ellevate Medium page.”