Sep 11, 2020

Managing an overseas team

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Syberry

4 Keys to Successfully Managing an Overseas Team

With the increasing globalization of the world economy, companies have begun operating on a broader scale than ever before. The Internet — and the countless technologies that have resulted from it — has linked the entire world, enabling international communication and collaboration. We can talk to and work with people in any country at any time. With notable technological advancements like Skype, WhatsApp, and so many more, our connected business world is unrecognizable compared to what we saw just twenty or thirty years ago — not to mention centuries past.

For businesses, this increase in global connectivity provides new opportunities: we can reach larger audiences with our products and services, but we can also reallocate our labor resources. And as companies continue to take advantage of this new capability and expand their global workforces, managing remote teams made up from people around the world is becoming the new reality.

While this phenomenon can have many positive impacts, including finding higher-quality employees at lower cost and attracting top talent by offering geographic flexibility, managing overseas teams poses its challenges as well.

First, the limited opportunities to see these employees in person make it difficult to forge close working relationships or effectively evaluate performance. Second, communication is often stunted by language and cultural barriers as well as the logistical challenges posed by working with teams scattered across different time zones.

Though we’re headquartered in Austin, Texas, Syberry is an international company, with employees in Europe as well as the United States. That means we’re no strangers to the issues that arise from managing international teams, and we’ve developed several strategies to overcome the most common hurdles we face. Whether your organization has a few employees working from local home offices or hundreds scattered across the globe, we hope these strategies will help you bridge the communication gaps of managing remote teams.

1. Acknowledge and Learn from Cultural Difference

From religious beliefs and government holidays to perceptions on work-life balance and more, managing team members from different cultural backgrounds can lead to a variety of misalignments in expectations and practices. But the reality is that our cultural backgrounds will always play a big part in how we work and interact with other people, so there’s no point in trying to hide those differences or pretend they don’t exist. That will only make matters worse. Instead, the best way to proceed is to acknowledge cultural differences upfront and make them open for (respectful, constructive) discussion.

Not only does this practice help establish a corporate culture that values diversity, inclusion, and curiosity, but it will significantly improve day-to-day operations as well. Being able to clearly define differences that may impact how the team works together will help set realistic expectations and prevent significant miscommunications, making the team happier and more effective.

2. Communicate Every Day — and Listen Even More Often

When your team members aren’t in offices right down the hall, it’s important to set up regular communication times and channels so you can ensure everybody’s on the same page no matter where they are in the world. Regular meetings — daily, even — are an important opportunity for team members to exchange information and knowledge, learn from one another’s experiences, and keep each other up to date on organizational and team developments. And between meetings, communication lines should remain open so leaders and team members can field questions and support one another as needed.

Equally important to the meetings themselves are the communication management skills team leaders bring to the table. A good manager is able to improve communication across the board by listening actively to what’s being said (and by whom), recognizing and unspoken concerns, and making sure all team members have opportunities to engage, participate, and feel heard.

While remote work can be incredibly beneficial for individual team members, it can also be incredibly lonely and isolating. Fostering community through regular communication and active listening is a powerful way to build a sense of camaraderie even when you and your team are worlds apart.

3. Define Team Structure and Core Corporate Values

We’ve all had an experience in which it wasn’t clear what to do when an issue arose, and the resulting confusion only made things worse. And that’s when everyone’s in the same office! So you can imagine that, when employees are stationed in different locations, clear and consistent structure is even more critical. When protocols, escalation paths, and even communication methods are clearly defined, team members will more clearly understand their responsibilities and their options for support.

Clearly defining core corporate values helps achieve a similar goal. Beyond improving the sense of community, unity, and purpose (an important achievement in and of itself), frequently reminding teammates of the company’s core values and mission is a great way to highlight how everyone’s work fits the overall project (and company) strategy. This helps establish trust among team members and gives everyone a touchstone or a “home base” when things inevitably get chaotic and they start to lose sight of why they’re doing what they’re doing.

4. Encourage Initiative and Personal Development

Research has shown over and over again that, when employees feel their managers are invested in their own personal and professional growth, and when they’re allowed to take ownership of their work in a way that promotes that growth, they’re more likely to remain loyal to the organization over the long term. And, especially when employees are far flung, taking an authentic interest in their personal growth and providing them opportunities to innovate within the organization are great ways to create a sense of roots and stability in a situation that could easily feel a little bit temporary or disconnected.

Our new, globally connected workforce has created countless incredible opportunities for businesses and their employees to grow, innovate, and flourish. But as with any sweeping change, managing global teams comes with its own set of unique challenges. However, If you focus on building community and unity through strong communication practices, you’ll find it’s possible to overcome these challenges and take full advantage of the rewards that come with building a productive, engaged team whose diversity — in backgrounds and skillsets — transforms the company in ways that wouldn’t have been possible thirty years ago.

May 22, 2019

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What our customers say about us

Syberry has provided satisfactory services thus far, and they are very responsive to any issues that arise. The team also possesses strong communication skills. They delivered a functional piece of software at a reasonable price, and they've managed the project very well.

Richard Harkness

CEO, ADEPT Driver

Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

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I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber

CEO, PIXRIT

Charleston, South Carolina

How we help PIXRIT Company

A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

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The user-friendly software hasn’t encountered any issues or bugs in more than three years. It’s high quality has helped grow the clientele. Straightforward and consistent in communication, Syberry met every deadline and ensured a hassle-free development process.

Vince Hughes

Owner, Steel Estimating Solutions

Knoxville, TN

How we help Steel Estimating Solutions Company

Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

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The new platform received positive feedback and performs better than its predecessor. Syberry communicated the project’s progress to their partners well by breaking down their steps and utilizing a management system. Most importantly, they delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

Technologies used

The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

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The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Ruby Milkovic

Executive Director, Velicom

Austin, TX

How we help Velicom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

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Syberry has successfully improved the frontend performance of the platform and continues to make thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. They have proven to be communicative and reliable, mitigating the common concerns of outsourced teams. Syberry remains mindful of business goals and client needs.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

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The added team members sufficiently fulfilled the needs of the project. The product was successfully launched and has received positive feedback. Syberry continues to be a supportive partner in development. They provide an impressive team and their expertise fosters a smooth collaboration.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

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Syberry delivered a solid website that has become a database of close to 40 organizations. The team worked quickly and efficiently to get the website up and running, and they continue to invest their time into the project. Additionally, they have been a communicative partner.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

West Orange, New Jersey

How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

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When the system is up and running, it will save time for the internal team. Syberry was a patient partner, and they performed well throughout the collaboration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

Yuba, California

How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

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All deliverables have exceeded expectations and function properly once launched. The Syberry team is skilled in juggling multiple projects, and provide strong expertise in software development. Their dedication to the project has fostered continual success in the engagement.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

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