Any great tips on building 'one team' in a functionally diverse and geographically dispersed organisation?
John Beavis FinstLM
15/7/2014 02:14:40 am
Nick, from my experience of leading a high performing and geographically dispersed team I found a clear unambiguous goal / vision was critical. This was purposely designed to give a clear and tangible strategic vision for everyone to pull together and work toward. This included standing objectives, as well as key milestones / gate reviews, supported by periodic meetings with representation across the group, to build mutual situational awareness, pool ideas and expertise, thus strengthening the organisation through time and progress. Having a significant project and goal, namely our support to the 2012 Olympic Games, only served to strengthen the sense of teamwork and camaraderie.
15/7/2014 02:15:21 am
I'd echo that - I don't think anything beats a shared vision in uniting human beings, regardless of geography. I'd add the importance of shared values and also a more subtle one of building a sense of identity - ie what's constant in who we are regardless of where we're based.
15/7/2014 02:16:05 am
Agree with John and Jo. The critical first step is the vision. The 'meaning' question must be answered up front and reinforced at every opportunity and through organizational processes. Everything else flows from that in terms of connecting and driving collaboration across the business. BUT...leaders within the business must lead the vision by example-walking the talk consistently. The vision must be translated and filtered exceedingly well so prioritizing work with leaders is a must to ensure a 'one team' mentality.
15/7/2014 02:16:43 am
It helps if you have an inspirational leader who is passionate about building a high performing georgraphically dispersed team.
Sarah Harvey FCIPD FinstLM
15/7/2014 02:17:40 am
I'd agree with what has already been said although no amount of vision and values (important as they are) will create a high performing team, whether geographically dispersed or not, unless the local managers and leaders role model it in practice. If 'one team' is your aim then everything that is done, every decision that is made, and the way managers manage, needs to be seen through a 'one team filter'. In other words make sure what you say you want plays out in what you do day in day out, then people will believe it and do the same.
15/7/2014 02:18:10 am
I would also add that "how" you create or co-create your vision will be important in sending a "one team" meassge. Visions are aspirational dreams of a future state and everyome can have a dream. Asking people via focus groups 1-1 meetings, team meetings, public forums etc, from across locations and functions : What is your dream for the future of this organisation that will help secure a sucessful future? What would success look and feel like? What would you like to change to help secure this future? What do we need to keep doing or do more of to secure that future? How should people behave and in what ways can we ensure this happens? A key element of a good vision statement is that it is understood and shared by team members. Therefore how team members contribute and what happens to those contributions is a key step along the way.
Sarah Harvey FCIPD FinstLM
15/7/2014 02:19:02 am
Yep @Paul Heaton I have used that phrase many times (even used the Fun Boy Three song at an event once - cheesy but it was effective!)
15/7/2014 02:19:40 am
I can only agree with all these valuable comments. It seems to be rather straithforward and we all agree. Then, why does it not happen as described above? I think that most leaders will also agree with what we say, but they just seem to underestimate the amount of effort and authenticity that this requires. For this, you need to have a very strong tandem approach between the top leader and the OD expert. There has to be a very strong agreement, trust and bond between these two. To me, this is the secret. Without this, the top leader will tend to take shortcuts ("I have explained it once, and that should be enough; they all understand now").
Graham Nicholls MSc MBA
15/7/2014 02:20:36 am
Great question, and excellent responses!
15/7/2014 02:21:17 am
I've done a few studies on the role of inclusive leadership styles in diverse teams and the findings indicate that this style of leadership has potential to encourage team identity as well as individual contributions.
15/7/2014 02:27:18 am
Nick, may seem a bit simple but bread and games have worked since Roman times.
15/7/2014 02:28:11 am
Referring to "one team" I will deduced that you are talking about the organization coming together with vision, mission and goals?
15/7/2014 02:28:50 am
Embrace Diversity, with cultural respect and geographical understanding .
Ajoy K Guha
15/7/2014 02:29:34 am
Try and follow any Indian Successful Corporate. You will find team with members from diverse culture and geographically dispersed regions. If I am not wrong India has people from 56 different cultures speaking more than 106 languages. Yet they come together, adapt and adjust to achieve a common goal.
15/7/2014 06:02:30 am
Agree with the above comments regarding the importance of shared vision, leadership and values and, in particular, the importance of trust. In terms of building trust, I have found open discussions between leader and team members around needs and expectations of each other can assist in this regard. I have also found that open discussions and agreement about how team members are going to communicate and collaborative can help to develop a feeling of 'one team'.
15/7/2014 06:03:09 am
Yes, I agree with the above and would add: keep it simple. That is, get everyone's contribution to the 3 W's:
15/7/2014 06:17:13 am
Team Leader has to provide a vision and have all team members get on board by deriving and developing a consensus on a common mission. A positive environment has to be provided where no team member feels threatened by his/her colleague. Communication channels have to be kept clear and open. It is important for the team leader to be in touch with all team members and as soon as any possible disagreement is seen to be brewing he/she ensures that it is nipped in the bud immediately.
16/7/2014 05:19:37 am
I agree with the above comments. I also think you need a way to share documents and information; like a wiki or something - to allow people to collaborate on ideas and 'the work' together.
16/7/2014 12:56:19 pm
It is an interesting topic especially in today's world where the nature of jobs is highly diversified and international mobility is on high.
18/7/2014 02:42:13 am
As per my perspective, Shared Vision is the Most important aspect in bringing the Geographically distributed work force as "One team" . Having said that Most of the organisations built the shared vision in the beginning, but this is not alive in the entire organisation in different life cycles of the organisation / Leadership transitions. Leaders needs to keep this on top of the agenda so that petty things or individual agenda does't come as obstacles for team work.
18/7/2014 02:42:54 am
I would suggest bench marking the desired values of the team as you recruit or select them and only select those who conform to the right broad business value set.
18/7/2014 02:43:53 am
I take a somewhat contrary view in the aspect of the "one team" aspect within business and say that "one organisation" with "geographic teams" pursuing a "common and local goals". The idea of teams are great and productive as they provide outcomes that are typically derived from consensus. However consensus outcomes tend to be dominated by robust personalities and therefore skewed.
18/7/2014 04:06:39 am
Taking up Trevors point (I see it as complementing rather than offering a contrary view to what has been said before). The "one team" approach should provide a framework in which differences in skills and perspectives can be appreciated and tolerated rather than suppressed and dominated by one view of the world. " Buy in" to any vision is more important than the words on paper. I find visions that work more effectively tend to connect people emotionally to what needs to be done to ensure longer term sustainability in a challenging and competative marketplace. They also manage to tread the delicate balance between what differences can/should be encouraged and those that may be counterproductive (usually in values, behaviours and attitudes rather than knoweledge and skills)
21/7/2014 03:12:25 am
I also agree with all the comments above and would add a suggestion to look at your processes and systems to enable / drive cross team working rather that unwittingly encourage the possibly competitive - "MY team, MY budget, MY building" thinking.
Dr Phaedra Weiler
22/7/2014 08:36:59 am
Skype is an additional tool, especially with the internet. If not all members can attend a meeting then finding a solution for all members to attend, along with posting the minutes from the meeting in an online forum is important.
22/7/2014 08:37:40 am
If you are talking doing this without coming together only periodically (and not often), here are some suggestions: (1) Ensure you have meetings with all of them, with an agenda. The agenda should clarify expectations and get feedback. If there are so geographically dispersed that they cannot be on Skype, ensure someone either represents each area, or you have someone who takes notes of main comments and gets them out to everyone. (2) The leader should be on the majority of the meetings. If it's delegated very often, soon people will think it's not important; (3) Have a shared drive on the company computer where everyone can "meet" for informal chats and "fun" stuff--just like Eric suggested. This is apart from "official" discussions; (4) When you talk to each group, ensure they know you are talking to the others, and have managers/team members of smaller, cross-functional groups talk. Finally, don't assume they all have YOUR shared vision.....it's hard for the leader to clarify that too often.
Dr Shalini Ratan
22/7/2014 08:38:22 am
Talking about positive environment, communication or Vision...I think every organization might be working on these lines but still fail to get the results.
22/7/2014 08:39:00 am
I think One Team one Mission with one Vision always work.
22/7/2014 08:39:40 am
Every organization has a vision and mission which is common through out the organization. Every business has different functions which are undertaken within the business.
Mark Nield MBA CMgr FCMI FinstLM
22/7/2014 08:40:55 am
23/7/2014 07:25:38 am
As per my experience, just to add few more points - Increased means for communication, No one in the team (irrespective of their geography) should feel left out, Regular virtual meetings, Respecting the individuals and their culture & nativity, Leveraging the time zone differences to team advantage, taking into account that the same Organization might have different policies at different geographic locations (law of land)- just to name a few, Team outing at least once in a year, developing culture of appreciating each other and volunteer to help each other.
John Stephens FCMI
25/7/2014 08:51:43 am
Interesting question Nick and some good points - Managing different people or small teams across a large (or even sometime small) geograhical area can be difficult & hard work.
1/8/2014 03:46:23 am
If the geographic variant sets you in front off a multicultural climat, reduce this effect by shoosing supperconnected profils according to their interst it helps you to find similar profile types insurring by this a minimum of group cohesion. the other criterias can come After to insure the fine tuning between the job descritions and skills of employees.
Dr Paul Turner
6/8/2014 08:08:39 am
Dr Paul Turner
8/8/2014 05:02:56 am
11/8/2014 07:32:07 am
Understanding culture and motivation factors for everyone is critical in building one team in diverse and geographically organization. Whenever management uses single yard stick for everyone then one team remains distant dream.
15/8/2014 04:04:13 am
Providing real goals and objectives for the team to achieve: if they are really motivated to achieve the goal, and it makes sense to them, they will find a way to get over the geographical and functional barriers.
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