The allure of global expansion and the promise of diverse talent pools bring immense opportunities to Canadian companies. Still, they also present formidable challenges for managers when it comes to integrating non-resident employees with the local team.
Similar to managing remote employees, coordinating teams abroad is different from managing workers in the office. Several issues and challenges may arise, making it difficult for managers to foster a positive and collaborative culture. The key is to identify possible struggles in order to create a plan to overcome them.
For this reason, we asked our members to share the most significant challenges faced by professionals in the HR and payroll domain when managing teams abroad. Their answers were truly insightful, so we created a list to help managers pay attention to the skills they may be lacking or overlooking.
10 HR and Payroll Professionals Share the Top Challenges of Managing Teams Abroad
The biggest challenge when managing employees abroad is navigating cultural differences, which can impact communication, work styles, and expectations. Effective cross-cultural understanding, communication, and adaptability are essential to building cohesive and productive teams while respecting diverse perspectives and approaches to work.
The toughest part of managing employees abroad is finding the time to understand the work culture and legislative requirements. Each payroll has different rules, so trying to make corporate worldwide policies is pretty challenging.
I love to show out-of-country employees what Canada is really like, so on my day off I made over 50 trips to Parc Omega. Here, employees from Germany and Australia saw deer, moose, elk, black bears, wolves and beautiful birds in a beautiful wildlife setting.
Time zones! It's challenging enough working coast to coast in Canada.
I think an area might be keeping employees connected. Not that we have any employees working abroad, but we do have a lot working remotely. And if you do not have consistent check-ins and updates, important information may not be shared.
Communication. Depending on the person, it can be challenging to understand what they are working on, the capacity, what they may need from a support perspective, and most importantly, being able to make sure they 'are okay' both personally and professionally. This can be challenging because you 'see' them less.
I don't have this issue, but my husband does travel abroad for work, and a big issue he experiences is the time difference. Trying to connect with people when there is a big time difference, especially on timely issues, is tricky. Also, staying connected with staff and helping everyone feel part of the team would be challenging.
Luckily, I don’t have to worry about this. However, I can assume not having in-person contact makes it hard to manage the dynamics and workflow of employees.
Making sure that your geographically dispersed team/staff are very comfortable with raising issues and coming to the table with solutions.
I think the biggest challenge is managing remote employees. Since not seeing them physically, all communications are done online. So, it needs more patience.
Distance makes connecting in person difficult.
47% of Businesses Currently Have a Consistent Mobility Policy
According to a recent report by EY, “88% of employers believe mobility can help address global talent shortages, and 47% of businesses currently have a consistent mobility policy that addresses increasing demands for flexible and agile working”.
These statistics underscore the undeniable global shift in workforce dynamics and the significance of collaboration and culture in this new paradigm. However, before venturing into global hiring and managing teams abroad, it’s essential to keep in mind our members’ main lessons:
- Learn to navigate cultural differences
- Ensure effective and constant communication
- Work on your adaptability (for example, time zones)
- Understand local regulations
For additional guidance on managing teams from a distance, check out our one-on-one interview with remote work and leadership expert Kevin Eikenberry!
What strategy would you adopt for fostering a collaborative culture when managing teams abroad? Let us know below!
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