So You Want to be a Global Project Manager?

You've experienced every aspect of the project manager life: managing projects, aligning team goals, setting new benchmarks of success. Every aspect except one: corporations are going global, and you want to be a part of that expansion. But it's not as easy as getting a passport, jumping on a plane, and saying, "Let's go!" You'll need to prepare before throwing yourself into the global game.

Before you become a global project manager, we have a few bits of advice.

4 Things You Should Know About Global Project Management

1. Managing teams virtually is a whole different ball game.

You might be great at baseball, but that does not mean you are prepared for cricket. The two games have different rules, different equipment, and different challenges. Walk in knowing that managing a diverse and distributed team is going to be different, and you will need to relearn a few things.

How to prepare yourself:
Educate yourself on the differences between virtual teams and co-located teams. Other global managers have already paved the way and passed along some of their best tips, so read up. You can start with this guide.
1. PDF: Everything You Need to Successfully Manage a Virtual Team (Checklist)

2. Miscommunication is bound to happen.

You can't walk across the office and make sure your message was understood; you can't force someone to read your email; you might be working with someone who doesn't speak your language fluently. Even in a co-located team, people miscommunicate. When you are working with someone on the other side of the globe, the chance of misinterpreting a message increases exponentially.

How to prepare yourself:
Check out these resources on improving collaboration from across the ocean.
1. Ebook: The Art of Staying Productive Across a Distance
2. Webinar: Teamwork Across Borders: Secrets of Remote Collaboration
3. Article: The 5 Ws of Virtual Communication

3. Virtual meetings aren't easy.

Managing a meeting online is far more difficult than managing its tamer cousin, the boardroom meeting. People have internet connection problems, they can't access your meeting software, they cut out when talking, or they accidentally forget to mute their speaker while they're munching on chips. Running virtual meetings requires patience and preparation.

How to prepare yourself:
Read these articles on how to make the best of your virtual meetings.
1. Article: 4 Tips to Improve Your Next Meeting
2. Article: 4 Problems with Virtual Team Meetings that You Can Fix

4. Cultural barriers will trip you up.

Fact: People from different areas of the world learn and work differently. You might be used to a very detail-oriented and pre-planned style, but the people on your team could prefer a more decide-as-you-go workflow. Working together might be incredibly difficult at first. Prepare to bump heads with team members, but take the opportunity to adapt and grow as a manager and leader.

How to prepare yourself:
Learn more about embracing cultural differences in your team. If cultural differences are impeding your flow, maybe it's time to stop swimming against the tide.
1. Article: 5 Tips for Embracing Cultural Differences
2. Article&Book Review: Leadership Blind Spot: Why a Lack of Cultural Intelligence is Holding You Back

Tips from the Big Leagues

The best advice comes from people who have been through it and thrived. Here are a few tips from global leaders that will prepare you for your new role in global project management:

"No matter where your team is located, creating a powerful and effective team that knows and trusts each other is critical. Look at ways to have fun and create momentum."
Lynn Anderson, CEO at Coaching4Abundance LLC.

"Just because your team member in China speaks flawless American English, don’t assume that her cultural values are the same as yours."
— Tim Clark, Partner & Senior Analyst at The FactPoint Group

"On a co-located project, there is a single set of project requirements. On global projects, it is common to encounter both global (such as quarterly financial reporting) and country (such as provincial tax) requirements. Failure to consider them can cause painful functional gaps upon implementation."
Kevin Korterud, at Project Management Institute

"Collaboration becomes essential for a two-fold reason; not only can it assist in the development of better teamwork between offices scattered across the map, but it can and should foster customer confidence in a consistent delivery of our company's products and service solutions."
Kevin Brown, "Global Project Management" group member on LinkedIn

Follow these tips on how to get a project manager job, and if you're a global project manager, try Wrike to get your distributed team members on the same page. Get a free trial of our enterprise project management solution today.

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