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 the remote work revolution. 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 Distance2. Webinar: Teamwork Across Borders: Secrets of Remote Collaboration3. 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 Meeting2. 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 Differences2. 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 client services vs 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.
Planning accurately, estimating task duration and keeping it close to reality – these aren’t easy things to do. And now imagine this is happening in a start-up where you do things that you have never done before (or even no one in the world has)! Today, Chris Rider, project manager at the fast-moving chemistry startup Terramera, shares how his team has enhanced its planning with the help of Wrike’s interactive timeline.Planning accurately, estimating task duration and keeping it close to reality – these aren’t easy things to do. And now imagine this is happening in a start-up where you do things that you have never done before (or even no one in the world has)! Today, Chris Rider, project manager at the fast-moving chemistry startup Terramera, shares how his team has enhanced its project planning with the help of Wrike’s interactive timeline. Customer’s background Terramera is a start-up committed to preserving Earth for the future generations. They develop safe, highly effective alternatives to traditional chemical pesticides, targeting the world’s most troublesome pests. Their product is absolutely harmless for the environment and humans. And we want to thank these guys for making Earth a better place for all of us! Terramera’s tip Chris Rider suggests not going into very detailed planning in advance. If you can’t precisely estimate the task duration, especially when it’s a brand new activity for the team, you may end up with delays and overlaps. Instead, he suggests splitting the project into stages, defining the goals for each of them and then setting due dates for the main tasks and milestones only. According to Terramera’s experience, this is a great starting point, and you can adjust the schedule when necessary. To make sure the major deadlines are intact, regardless of adjustments, you can create date constraints between project stages. This works great when you’re waiting for a client’s feedback. You can’t plan in advance if he or she suggests a couple of minor corrections, or even a radical makeover. In this case, a date constraint between the milestone and the dependent task on the timeline makes sure there’s enough time to deal with the situation. Even if your client gives you a dozen more ideas to improve the product, you’ll still have time to implement them. “As we start working on some stage of a project, we get a clearer picture of what needs to be done,” Chris says, “Then we keep making our schedule more detailed and accurate. This way, the deadlines become more realistic, since they are based on the actual circumstances and not on the outdated suggestions.” The team regularly creates smaller tasks and moves the existing ones on the timeline if they take more or less time than expected. Then Terramera’s team runs periodic meetings to discuss the schedule changes and keep everyone in the loop. The team also can easily track them, as well as monitor new tasks in the Activity Stream. Those of you who work in IT may notice that this workflow is similar to agile development methods. In this management concept, before developing the product, the team also splits the workload into iterations and then plans each iteration more thoroughly. Wrike’s flexibility works great for agile methods. Unlike the spreadsheets that Terramera previously used, project planning on the timeline provides all team members with an instant access to the up-to-date project picture. The system also sends them instant notifications if the tasks are rescheduled. With realistic deadlines, the team has become more organized and gets things done in time. According to Chris, such an approach makes his team more flexible and efficient in achieving their pre-set goals. If you want to learn more about Terramera’s story of overcoming start-up challenges in project management, watch our videocast with Chris Rider: “Before Wrike, we were often finding ourselves doing unexpected work at the last minute. Using Wrike, we have greatly improved our planning, which means that when the time comes for work to be due, the team has already done most of the work. This means we can now work much more proactively and effectively.” Chris Rider, project manager at Terramera
With the advent of cloud services and the widespread availability of high-speed internet around the world, it’s becoming more and more common for organizations to have teams made up of people in different countries, working remotely from one another, using technology to collaborate efficiently despite the distance. But with this rise in remote teams comes the challenge of dealing with different cultures within one workforce. To a certain extent, these differences tend to be smaller issues when compared with overarching project goals and clearly stated deadlines. But what happens when there is difficulty understanding one another’s speech? And how do you coax teamwork from every member when some cultures tend to be more aggressive and vocal than others? Cultures are based on unseen values and assumptions created by shared experiences and events. When exposed to the same situation, different cultures might react in different ways. All of this underscores the need for cultural awareness in order to avoid, or at least limit, misunderstandings and miscommunication. From the very start, Wrike has functioned as a cross-cultural team, and we’ve found ways to work efficiently with colleagues in different countries and cultures. We like to think we’ve made it work, though there is always room to grow. So we’ve put together our five strategies for managing cross-cultural teams: 1. Learn About One Another One of the easiest ways to learn about the cultural diversity of your team is to flat out ask them. A perfect icebreaker is to ask about office holidays: Why do your colleagues in the Philippines and Russia get a week off after Christmas? What festivals are your Indian colleagues observing? What exactly is Boxing Day in Canada? Why is Thanksgiving such a big deal in the U.S.? Dedicate a section of your onboarding process to reading up on the different cultures in your organization. After all, there’s no better time to drill the importance of cultural awareness than at the start. Another fantastic way to learn about your international teammates is to visit or invite them over. Here at Wrike HQ, we often host our remote team members, their visits timed for important conferences or seminars. This allows us to interact with colleagues on a day-to-day basis away from the computer screen and has given us the chance to get to know them better. 2. Allow for Different Learning Styles Any elementary teacher can tell you that every student learns in a different way. But stepping further back, different countries also typically educate students in various ways. So on an individual level, there are people who are more studious and bookish overall, learning new material by consuming technical documents and manuals. Others among us learn better go by experiencing things hands-on, or watching demonstrations. Allow for these different learning styles when collaborating together. If you’re all trying to absorb new material, have downloadable/printable PDFs for those who learn best by reading, audiobooks for those who need to hear concepts aloud, and webinars or video tutorials for those who need to see it done in front of them. 3. Make the Recap a Part of the Meeting Don’t forget that English is not a common first language outside of some countries in Europe and North America. In many places, it’s a second or third language. You should never assume that what you say is understood — even if you speak slowly and use shorter words. Instead of asking if your team understood next steps (that’s a yes or no answer that can easily be fibbed) make it a habit to ask the team to recap their assignments before ending a call or meeting. This has the added bonus of clarifying everyone's priority tasks and giving the team a last-minute chance to ask questions. 4. Involve the Quiet Some cultures are more vocal, more aggressive, more able to express themselves in a meeting. And in that way, they might seem to dominate discussions. Conversely, some cultures are more quiet, comparatively passive, willing to sit out a meeting without saying anything while the more vocal members debate. In a situation like this, make sure to circle back to the quiet people after a meeting and get their input on the discussions, apart from the larger group. Make use of a collaboration tool such as Wrike that can capture everyone’s comments and feedback — something that balances the scales and gives the quieter people an equal chance to be heard. 5. Incorporate Humor Humor is an easy way to break the ice — just be aware that it’ll take time to learn what each culture finds funny. One of our team members shared that she had a little difficulty comprehending American humor. But because she brought it up, we were able to explain some aspects of it and give her relevant links to YouTube clips showcasing examples of what we found funny. So definitely, incorporate humor into your teamwork with virtual icebreakers for large groups. One of our favorite tips is to designate a virtual water cooler channel in your instant messaging app and make it a place where the team can hang out and NOT talk about work at all but about the stuff they find interesting, funny, or entertaining. In all these tips, the basic underlying premise that’s always worked for Wrike has been one of respect. If you respect the different cultures and ask the right questions in order to understand what you don’t know, you’ll have much more successful interactions. If you have any tips of your own, we’d love to hear them. Share your experiences of working with a cross-cultural team in the comments below!
Today, even if you are not in Rome, you sometimes still need to do as the Romans do. Thanks to globalization, many of us have clients and partners all over the world. Ignoring the culture differences can be a stumbling block to establish relationship with client and helping your business grow. On the contrary, knowing several important national features of business communications will move you closer to building great customer relationships wherever your client comes from. Our first guest to share her helpful tips in this area is Yuko Ono from Japan, the president of Tsukuruhito Ltd., which specializes in developing online services based on brand strategy. If you have Japanese clients or partners, keep a note and share your observations in comments! Investing in trustworthy relationships takes time and tact In Japan, it takes some time and effort to win people’s confidence and see them share their thoughts and feelings with you. This is a very important stage of building business relationships, so let your clients take their time and try to be as patient and attentive to them as you can. Remember that it’s not common for the Japanese to express their thoughts directly, as people often do in the U.S. “Try to use euphemisms and polite forms, to not make an impression of an aggressive person,” Yuko Ono notes. Make sure the project goals meet the clients’ expectations Communication in the Japanese culture is not simply an exchange of opinions. It’s an important ritual to establish relationships. “Pay enough attention to discuss clients’ needs and expectations in the very beginning and make sure there are no misunderstandings,” Yuko Ono advises. This way, you’ll show your respect to the clients’ thoughts, which will help you build trust between each other. Besides that, communication in Japan often implies the ability to understand the underlying message that is not said directly. This way, if the goals weren’t set up in a clear way, things might get even blurrier as the project moves on, and it will end up in a waste of time and a customer’s dissatisfaction. The best way to prevent it is to talk things through. Lend an attentive ear to the feedback throughout the work “When the project is already in process, it doesn’t mean that now we can drift apart from our clients and then simply show them results of the work,” Yuko Ono says. According to her, attentiveness to the feedback is a key to success in Japan. To achieve this sensitivity, she always introduces the clients to everyone who works on their project and asks their opinion on different stages before the project is completed. Another important thing is to compare the interim results with the essentials that were established in the beginning to make sure clients are satisfied with where things are moving. “Here Wrike helps us a lot, as it is very easy to selectively grant the clients access to the pieces of data they are interested in,” Yuko Ono shares. What are your thoughts? Would this advice work for your country, too? “When several people work on several projects simultaneously, it’s quite a challenge to establish an easy workflow within a team. What I like most about Wrike is that it makes absolutely transparent all the current achievements, responsibilities and schedules of each team member. Now that we always have the most important pieces of data at our fingertips, our efficiency has increased dramatically!”— Yuko Ono, the president of Tsukuruhito Ltd. Tsukuruhito Ltd. is a Japanese company specializing in developing brand strategies through the web in a number of areas from educational systems to e-commerce services.
With traditional trade and finance flatlining in the 21st century, digital transformation has become one of the most invaluable methods for the growth of companies worldwide. We cover three significant ways globalization of services will impact any industry and how your company can get ready for 2020’s globalization trends.