By Neal Gandhi, CEO, Quickstart Global
Watch a video of Neal giving tips on how you could adopt the Born Global mindset.
From many years experience of helping businesses set up and run their own teams, Quickstart Global have developed a practical checklist to give your overseas team the best chance of success.
1. Ensure that setting up an overseas team is a strategic initiative
Setting up an overseas team needs to be set in the context of wider business goals, rather than a standalone initiative. Over the years we have seen a direct correlation between the long term success of the team and the extent of executive involvement in the initial stages of the project. Mishaps or setbacks may occur; at that point resolve is required to keep the programme on track
2. Appoint a success manager
Whilst there is a need to obtain broad support across the management team, one of the executive should take responsibility for the ultimate success of the project; we recommend that a “success manager” is identified early on in the initiative. Usually this is a mid-level manager who is well respected within the organisation and capable of providing a reassuring voice of reason and a champion for the members of the offshore team. Quite often the best success managers start off with a sceptical view, but their conversion from sceptic to advocate will influence the opinions of colleagues.
3. Never send your problems overseas
If it isn’t working in the UK, it probably won’t work offshore. Revisit why it isn’t working and the strategic reasons why you are doing it.
4. Ensure you choose your own staff — wherever they will be located
Team members should be selected to fit in with your company culture and ethos, as well as having appropriate experience and skills. If you maintain control over the selection of staff, you can hire appropriately — ensuring that you have the same level of skill and experience that you would hire at home; at all levels.
5. Set realistic timescales
Long term goals should be augmented with short term quick wins so that Head Office can see tangible success.
6. Communicate openly with headquarters staff
If you are setting up offshore to support growth plans then be open about this and prove it through your actions; if it is a cost reduction — be honest.
7. Use the time zone advantage
An organisation can benefit from extended working days, which will improve productivity, and responsiveness. It is important to ensure that team members, wherever they are located, have a formalised handover procedure.
8. Ensure staff retention
The most successful teams have a culture of working within one big international team. By hiring appropriate staff, a sense of mutual respect can be fostered. Offshore staff also need a clear career path and to be challenged in their daily work, just as staff in Headquarters do.
9. Integrate teams
If the home team respect their overseas colleagues, and find common ground with them, then the offshore initiative has a much greater chance of success and avoiding the “us and them” culture. The best way to do this is to bring the team to HQ for induction; as you would with new joiners in the home country. This will provide them with an understanding of ‘how things are done’, enable them to understand internal processes and tools — but most importantly build interpersonal relationships.
Exchange visits between offices and countries also help a great deal; one of our clients took their East European team to see Manchester United, another took their Indian team and colleagues to an amusement park for the day, the benefits were obvious straight away as team members bonded and productivity shot up.
10. Visit frequently
The success manager needs to make regular visits to ensure that everything is running to plan and continue to develop inter-personal relationships. If you are dealing with symbolic societies, face to face time counts for a lot and a visit from a senior Executive a few times a year demonstrates the strategic importance of the team.
11. And the free tip . .
Have fun. HQ staff visiting the overseas location should view it as a pleasurable experience, and take the opportunity to get to know their people and their culture.