Communicating & Team Building on a Global Stage

A good friend of mine is a recruiter for a high-tech firm in Silicon Valley.

Over dinner recently, we chatted about the global nature of the work we do.

Marsha mentioned that one of her favorite partners is based in Latin America and, while he conducts his business from there, his primary client base is right here in Silicon Valley.

It’s clear that companies of all shapes and sizes now find themselves playing on the global stage.

Challenges of Global Team Building

One of my proudest moments came in 2007 when I was given the green light to build a global training team for Mandel Communications.

Along with the energy and excitement of working with colleagues around the world came the challenges of team building and communicating across time zones, languages, and cultures.

In her HBR article, “The Attributes of an Effective Global Leader,” Sylvia Ann Hewlett named COMMUNICATION a key attribute for effective global leadership. That resonated with my own experience building global teams and collaborating with global team members.

This week, I’d like to share what we at Mandel have learned in the past 10+ years about how to communicate effectively on a global scale.

Top 3 Global Leadership Communication Tips

  1. Know your audience!
    While this is vital to any type of communication, it’s especially critical when communicating as a global leader.Learn all you can about protocol and ways of doing business in the various parts of the world where you and your team members will be working. Ask lots of questions.Whenever possible, make a trip to meet in person. Observe. Listen. Observe some more. Talk with colleagues who also work with global teams and learn from their experiences (and mistakes!) too.
  2. Build individual relationships with team members.
    While general information about cultural variables is widely available, never forget that individuals are individuals, wherever they reside.Make a trip to meet in person! Nothing can match the value of meeting people on their home turf and learning from them as you see them at work.Your colleagues may travel to corporate headquarters occasionally. Take advantage of those opportunities, too, to continue building relationships.
  3. Level the communications playing field.
    One thing that has amazed me as I’ve watched global teams at work is how frequently “corporate headquarters” dictates the time and format for global team meetings.When scheduling your meetings, keep in mind that 2:00pm HQ time translates to 2:30am in Bangalore! Vary the time of your meetings, so that everyone feels their needs are being considered.

    In addition to varying the time of meetings, vary the format. Invite members of the team to facilitate meetings on a rotating basis. Use video whenever you can. Meet “face to face” whenever possible. (Do you see a theme here?)

    Agree on the rules of engagement for meetings, e.g., How can you ensure that quieter voices are heard? And create a feedback loop, so you know what’s working and what needs improvement.

    Finally, implement a standard communication framework to ensure that ideas are clearly communicated, goals are well-defined, and the right decisions get made. Mandel’s SCI-PAB® method, for example, can be a powerful tool for enhancing the productivity and impact of meetings.

Team Building Doesn’t Happen By Accident

Of all the experiences I’ve had in my career, building a committed, loyal, high-performing global team has been the most rewarding.

It doesn’t happen by accident. It takes time, effort, and a willingness to do things in new and different ways. Know your audience. Build individual relationships. Level the communications playing field.

Your life will be enriched and your business will thrive as you leverage the strengths of team members around the world.

Learn More

For help building and managing high-performing teams around the world or strengthening your global leadership communications, learn more about Mandel’s Collaboration and Team Building Skills Training.


Kathleen Redd

Kathleen Redd

Kathleen currently serves as an advisor to the Mandel Leadership Team, consulting on training services and special projects related to marketing and solution design. In her previous role as Vice President, Global Training Services, Kathleen was responsible for identifying, developing, and supporting Mandel’s team of trainers and coaches around the world. She also developed and deployed Mandel’s world-class trainer certification process, and played a significant role in the design and implementation of Mandel’s highly successful virtual solutions. Kathleen has been an active member of the Association of Briefing Program Managers, and a frequent speaker at client and industry events. Her passion and purpose is to inspire confidence in emerging leaders by providing them with the skills they need to clearly communicate, influence, and collaborate with colleagues and clients across the globe.