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Communication Tips For Working With Different Cultures

Most IT project managers that have worked in large fortune 500 companies in the past decade will have experience managing, delivering and integrating IT projects using a remote team most likely based in a different time zone and from a different culture. Many mid-size business lack the necessary experience in-house on how to effectively manage an offshore team. Previous articles that address a similar topic is shown below:

Preparation is the Key to Becoming a Better Outsourcing Client
Managing remote team

Here are 5 tips that should help you improve the working relationship with an offshore team member:

1.    Be careful of local sayings or idioms. Sometimes what makes sense in one language does not translate well into another. For example if you say “You need to make a home-run on this piece of code” to someone from India, unless they are familiar with baseball it might not be interpreted correctly and the importance of their work might not be understood. It is better to be clear and use basic language.  

2.    Understand humour, what can and cannot be said. Often a referral to a Hollywood movie or using a quote, it might be funny if you know what is being referred to, however there is a big chance they will not understand it, and it will give them a feeling of not being part of the team. However, if humour is used correctly it can help build a strong relationship and support from the offshore team, but unless you know their culture minimise using humour.

3.    Yes doesn’t always mean “yes”.   Often an offshore resource will say “yes” which indicates they understand what you are saying, but that does not necessarily mean they agree with you. Again it is a cultural difference, so be aware of it and clarify during a status meeting that is ok to say “we don’t understand”.

4.    Ask for help and get some insight from people who have worked in this environment before. You can be guaranteed many IT project managers will have gotten burned in the past using an offshore model, and there is nothing as valuable as getting access to that experience.

5.    Do your own research on google on the service provider. What are their values and organisational goals. Secondly, research the country; there will be people sharing experiences in forums and on linked in which will provide you with some insight into tips for what motivates the people.

Remote teams are a key component of today's global workplace, but the focus remains on people, process & execution. There are many strategies & tactics. Select the few that will make the greatest impact, and use them consistently. To read more strategies click here Communication Tips For IT Managers

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