I’ve been fortunate to be able to work closely with people from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures—helping build and manage technology-oriented teams. At times it has been challenging, but for the most part it has been very rewarding; quite frankly it’s my favorite part of my job.
It seems many companies (large and small) have learned quite a bit over the last several years on how to create and manage productive teams. In the technology world, most companies now use a combination of internal engineers, freelancers, and subcontractors to build their delivery and support teams. Often these teams are a combination of local and remote talent.
So, what is the secret for creating successful blended teams?
Below are five of the most important techniques used by our clients that I have observed over the years which I believe have contributed greatly to their success:
Blur the lines between employee and non-employee. Obviously for career development and contractual purposes, employees should be treated differently than contractors. But for everyday team engagement, foster a culture of inclusion, parity, and respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it encourages enthusiasm and personal ownership of project activities.
Know the individuals and their interests. It means talking to individuals about their life and issues (to the degree that they are comfortable). It takes time, but it encourages engagement by allowing team members to know they are not “just” a resource, but a person appreciated for their unique talents and interests.
Create an “idea” culture by encouraging and appreciating idea generation from all parties. There are a bunch of smart people out there with very helpful ideas. Set an expectation that idea generation is a normal part of team activities, which will help with productivity and individual fulfillment.
Be practical and transparent by reminding people when necessary that it’s not all “Kum ba yah.” We all need to be reminded sometimes that a business must make money to be sustainable. Sometimes this means hard decisions need to made, but be clear and as transparent as possible on expectations—share state of affairs, good and bad—which in turn builds team trust.
Encourage direct connection among team members to share ideas and interests. This is like the first technique, but it can solidify the foundation of a team, and it’s a real opportunity for people to make global friends—sometimes for life.
The above are just some of my observations and my hope is to continue to learn from clients and partners.
Bob Foster – GlobalNow IT