A global team consists of a geographically dispersed group working together to accomplish a common goal; this type of team faces not only time zone and cultural differences but also different languages, national customs, values, and norms of behavior. As the world continues to become more connected, working within a global team is becoming more common. Global teams don’t always have the luxury of meeting face-to-face due to budget and time constraints and instead rely on virtual team meetings. These meetings can be full of pitfalls; I know from personal experience the struggles a global virtual team can face.
An ethnocentric view is a lens through which one views the world and is developed through an individual’s experiences (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). As we mature, we try to make sense of a chaotic world, drawing conclusions from what we observe and experience in our little corner of the globe. If we aren’t exposed to other cultures, beliefs, and values, our conclusions go unchallenged; the longer this remains, the more entrenched we become in our ethnocentric view (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014). A geocentric view, is one takes the time to consider and understand another’s perspective; adjusting the approach to communication and behaviors to eliminate noise that can be added by
The following are some tips to ease the issues of virtual team meetings:
Face to face meeting
If possible begin a project with a face to face, it strengthens the ties between team members and can be used to establish the scope of the project as well as ownership tasks.
Create an agenda
Distribute an agenda prior to the meeting and stick to the topics outlined in the agenda. Any meeting can meander off-topic, but because of behavior and language differences, you need to mindful of showing respect for everyone’s time (Oshri, Kotlarsky & Willcocks, 2008).
Seek feedback; you may need to set due dates for feedback and stress the importance of responses from everyone involved. It isn’t always clear when you are finalizing a decision, and you may receive feedback at the last minute. Be direct about requiring input within a specific timeframe (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014).
Take attendance and plan ahead
Keep track of who attended each meeting; global teams can celebrate different holidays, and alignment to everyone’s schedule can be especially challenging. I am currently working with a global team consisting of individuals from France, China, and the United States. You can save a lot of time if you are aware of when others will be out of the office and can set deadlines based on this information (Moran, Abramson, & Moran, 2014).
These tips help with awareness and can bring you one step closer to adopting a geocentric view. Being globally aware will help you build a stronger working relationship with colleagues who are from a different background than your own, which can then help you all be more successful.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences (9th ed.). Oxford: Routledge.
Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., & Willcocks, L. (2008). Missing links: Building critical social ties for global collaborative teamwork. Communications of the ACM, 51(4), 76-81. doi:10.1145/1330311.1330327