Global Teams – Time Zone Tango

Global Teams

There is a growing category of managers out there:  ones who deal with employees not just in different time zones – but truly global teams.  These managers are a talented bunch who have unique work challenges.

In a world of shrinking management and flat org charts it is hard to over emphasize the importance of a manager who is responsible for a scattered and diverse work team.  

Eric Barton describes some Keys to managing from afar in his article about video conferencing with employees around the globe.

Is this situation familiar in your workplace?  Or are you considering such a job?  Well, I hope you like the sound of your alarm, because living by the clock will be a large part of your routine.  It is kind of like running Grand Central Station with the time zones displayed on the wall and juggling/managing your team around the world.

Managing global teams is tricky business.

I facilitate a technical group that meets once a month via conference.  Some people are good at keeping up conversation online and others just kind of stalk the meeting – listening in on mute with no video link.  Those are the ones I wonder about.

Not everyone is comfortable with the conference medium but I know those who participate get a lot more out of the meetings.

Sometimes I call these people after the meeting to gauge how things are going, rather than just assuming everything is OK.  A big part of being a successful manager is being fluent in many forms of communication and generous with your time.

And how common is that in this busy work world?

Global Teams
Global Teams

Eisenhower Principle of Time Management

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” – quote by Eisenhower.  

Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, you need to understand this distinction:

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals.

Urgent activities are often the ones we concentrate on. These are the “squeaky wheels that get the grease.” They demand attention because the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.  (excerpt above from Mindtools.com)

In the context of meetings, this dilemma becomes larger as your event comes closer.

  • Stay calm.
  • Focus on your to-do list.
  • Shrink your “inner circle” of advisors.

This is the time when you get to make “executive decisions” on what can and should be done.  Go with your instinct.  Delay responses if you can and carry on with your plan.  If you have responsibility for getting the event or project done, then you must do what you think is right, or at least choose the best option for the group as a whole.

Your determination and focus will be rewarded – in the end it takes leadership to get the job done.

For further study, check Steven Covey’s Urgent/Important Matrix.

 

Laurie Daschuk, BA is a meeting facilitator with Stop the Presses

Your Meeting – Only Better

When you wonder at the end of the week, “Where did the time go?”, you may not be alone. According to a Microsoft survey, people spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings and 69% feel meetings aren’t productive.

Some key issues identified:

  • Poor meeting mechanics – lack of meeting agenda or objectives, poor chairmanship
  • Key players missing, late-comers, uninterested attendees
  • Data Overload or Drought – Too many ideas bouncing around, no materials provided prior, lack of preparation
  • Unclear Roles and Responsibilities – Who’s supposed to be doing what?
  •  Problem Avoidance – Not addressing goals, reports or behavior issues that limit a team’s effectiveness
  • Meeting Conclusion – “What did we decide to do?”, incomplete minutes, minutes not distributed, or no action items resulting from the meeting
  • Tele-commuting and virtual teams further reduce the likelihood of key participants attending. Then add distractions from laptops, iPhones, emails and SMS.

Meetings need to have a sense of urgency not a mood of obligation.  People charged with organizing these meetings can be frustrated, overwhelmed and resigned to poor results.

How can Stop the Presses Help?

Many of these issues need to be dealt with by management, leading by example, an open trusting culture, and policy and processes tuned to make it easier to do it the right way rather than taking meeting short-cuts.

A meeting facilitator can inspire confidence, listen to leaders/managers and help by taking a look from the outside and then setting the stage for lasting change.

Laurie Daschuk, BA is a meeting facilitator with www.stopthepresses.ca

Pink Lemonade Theory

Pink Lemonade doesn’t make any sense, if you think about it.

First you have lemons.

Then you dress it up with sugar – knowing that lemonade means making the best of a difficult situation.  So if things are still not working out, can you really just hide problems with a bit more flash and dazzle?

Well, in the short run maybe, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.  Those people get really angry when the product or solution you offer really is the old stuff, re-packaged as new again (or pink!).

If you want to make people really upset, tell them you have fixed things, tell them this time it’s different, tell them THIS is the best thing you’ve done so far.  And if it’s not, you’re in trouble.  You will loose all your goodwill earned so far, and their trust will be ten times harder to recover once again.

Mistakes happen when companies are being rushed to get out the latest model. Organizations are sometimes under pressure to save a pending agreement or contract.  It can be an operational challenge to follow-up on all the comments and feedback that you recieve for products or services. But what you say versus what you do, can affect your reputation.

Be careful before you make that next announcement, speech, presentation or press release.  Is it really better, or is it just Pink Lemonade?

Laurie Daschuk, a facilitator with Stop the Presses, organizes meetings for professional organizations and assists professionals with personal branding.