Using the proper tools and support to help your business run smoothly
Starting a business and managing a team can be extremely difficult in itself, but what about when some of your employees are working in a different country halfway around the world? How do you juggle different time zones? How do language barriers affect your progress and business? These are all important questions for companies that work with international teams.
The solution may be an effective team communications system. Implementing that very thing may be easier than you think. It’s a matter of using the proper tools and getting the right supports in place.
Tips on tools
Milan Vukas is a startup mentor based out of Toronto. He travels around the world helping new businesses and incubators grow. He focuses on the different tools available to entrepreneurs to help them better manage their teams.
Vukas says one of the most basic tools that startups can use is, of course, email. Using a company email ensures that your team is only sending and receiving information directly related to work. To keep organized and ensure information stays private, Vukas recommends that staff check emails regularly and set up notifications on their phones and computers to help them stay on top of urgent messages.
Vukas also encourages startups to use Skype and Google Hangouts as low-cost alternatives to international calls. Aside from those major applications, programs such as Trello, a web-based project management application, can help companies better organize their objectives.
Sanj Sethi is the CEO of Sethio, a mobile and web app platform development firm based in Toronto. He uses WhatsApp – a web-based calling and messaging service designed for computers, tablets and smartphones – to communicate with his employees in India. He says it’s a simple solution that gets the job done.
“My focus is in making sure that people understand what I need to get from them; not how I get it from them,” Sethi says.
Some challenges to consider
Effective communication, is one of the most common challenges that international teams face. In order to avoid hiccups like language barriers, Vukas recommends taking the time to figure out and articulate what you want to achieve for every project. “The most important thing to do is set up a plan so that everyone knows what the final goal is,” he says. “You don’t have the luxury of going over to a co-worker to get clarification and that’s why you need to be very clear about what needs to be done.”
Time zones are a big factor in the management of an international team. “You don’t physically have people around you. It is important that the team knows that specific tasks need to be finished by a certain time regardless of the different time zones,” says Vukas.
How to recover from a mistake
Mistakes are inevitable; the important thing is to learn from your errors and move forward as a team.
“If someone misses a deadline or something doesn’t get done, it’s important that everyone knows where we went wrong so that it doesn’t happen next time,” says Vukas.
There’s always a learning curve when it comes to running a business, so if one tool isn’t working for you, try another. It is just important to remember that everyone needs to be on the same page to ensure the success of the company.