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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dispersed Teams: Communication Guidelines to Keep Channels Open Around the Globe

By Laura Smith, Vice President of Global HR, Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC

Today, technology enables team members to be placed anywhere in the world more easily than ever—meaning companies can secure top talent regardless of location.

In many ways, managing dispersed teams is the same as single-location management— performance is still evaluated, goals are still set, and work still gets done. The magic is in building a winning dynamic amongst the team, and that requires collaboration, cohesiveness, and trust. Effective communication lies at the center of it all.

There is no doubt that emulating water-cooler chats among dispersed coworkers is difficult, but strong communication is modeled from the top down. If executives choose to expand their talent searches to remote workers globally, serious consideration should be given to how the organization will communicate and train its leaders to maximize remote employee productivity. This is most successfully done by establishing clear communication guidelines for dispersed teams.

These guidelines should detail management tips to promote agile communication within dispersed teams and foster an environment of ongoing inclusion. While acknowledging that there may be stumbling blocks at the outset—and acknowledging that every cultural nuance will not immediately be recognized—the guidelines will serve as a starting point towards achieving fluid communication among geographically dispersed employees.

The creation of the dispersed teams communication guidelines should pull in stakeholders from multiple teams, including those locally based and key stakeholders from other areas.

Portions of these guidelines are unique to every company based on culture, industry, and other factors, but there are a few things that every effective plan should take into consideration:

Kick dispersed team management off right. Before chats and emails become the main mode of communication within a team, whenever possible, companies should encourage managers to bring dispersed teammates together in one centralized location upon a project kick off or when a new team member is brought on board.

These initial meetings allow teammates to put faces to names before they become screen names, email addresses, and cell phone numbers. The ability for these team members to engage in face-to-face conversation—even for a few days—aids ongoing communication long after the gathering. Team managers should be encouraged to schedule a few of these throughout the year, including out-of-the-office activities to further build comradery.

Define approved forms of communication. Each company has communication preferences—whether it’s a specific video conferencing program or a messaging tool. These should be clearly outlined in the communication guidelines, and conference rooms equipped with these capabilities should be listed. This encourages regular meetings and reduces the risk of skipping important interactions due to external barriers.

Set an established default time zone. While difficult for those who might be on the early (or late) end of an established time zone, it is important that a team set a default time zone for operations—especially when deadlines are looming. This doesn’t mean that every single person has to work the same hours within that time zone, but it does help to keep mandatory meetings and check-ins consistent.

Don’t rely on digital communication. We all fall into the trap of back and forth emails and chains that end up going on and on. The risk with this is that decisions aren’t clearly made or interim decisions get lost in a sea of “reply alls.” To avoid these issues, managers should set guidelines and provide some scenario examples for when team members should simply pick up the phone rather than go back and forth via email.

It is easy to overlook that digital communication platforms are often overused and don’t allow for team-building relationships. Digital communication affords the opportunity for quick, precise, and to-the-point communication—but it is often misinterpreted and doesn’t expand far beyond work communication. It can also discourage some from picking up the phone to clear up misunderstandings or to simply just hear a voice on the other end of the conversation.

Establish a quick view calendar. Depending on what countries are reflected on a project team, it is a good idea to have the standard holidays of all countries listed in the communication guidelines and available to team members. Many countries have holidays that are not on the U.S. calendar; so, it is good to be prepared and staffed accordingly.

Provide brief culture tips. There is absolutely no way to write out every single cultural nuance for team members based in other countries. But there are a few from each country that could be helpful. For instance, in China, gift giving is frowned upon in business settings. Or, when at dinner, guests should wait to be seated as there is a seating protocol based on hierarchy. The inclusion of a few commonly accepted tips on the dispersed teams communication guidelines can go a long way.

Appoint a team facilitator. It has been reported that nearly 55 percent of employees do not feel 100 percent confident participating fully in remote meetings—but appointing a team facilitator can help. The facilitator is involved in the team at every level, helps create meaningful discussions in meetings, and keeps conversations flowing during video and digital meetings.

The facilitator also makes sure that all team members are prepared by creating easily-understandable documentation before each meeting, providing a well-defined agenda, and answering any pre-meeting questions.

He or she also ensures all digital aids are online and ready for the meeting, and that all communication channels are operational. If a team is dispersed globally, the facilitator will also make sure there is a comfortable mode of translation should additional language assistance be needed.

These are just a few important suggestions to foster open communication among dispersed teams. What is important for managers to remember is that “out of sight, out of mind” has no place in dispersed team management. Instead, managers should work towards transparent, inclusive, and constant communication, because when it comes to dispersed teams, over-communication is rarely possible.


Learn more about dispersed team management in the following upcoming blog posts:
  • Topic 2: Inclusion. The importance of total team inclusion and tips to make it easier.
  • Topic 3: Culture. For teams dispersed globally, understanding cultural nuances, time differences & holiday schedules important.
  • Topic 4: Structure. Showing consistency and structure by holding weekly meetings, individual check-ins, and conveying clear expectations and objectives. 


Laura Smith is the vice president of global human resources for Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC—a global services and staffing firm based in McLean, Va., with more than 33 offices worldwide. Smith has more than 25 years of human resources experience and maintains the SPHR certification. She has also been named to Staffing Industry Analysts' Global Power Women in Staffing List for the last two years.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Employment Engagement and Recruiting are Related - Find Out How


By:  Elliot Clark, Chairman and CEO, SharedXpertise Media

HR understands the power of first impressions.  One of the most important processes is the candidate experience:  the way an organization approaches hiring, onboarding and orienting employees.  This has a direct impact on time-to-productivity, employee engagement and retention.

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Cory Kruse, president of Orion Novotus, and Katy Theroux, CHRO of NCI Group, as they shared their expert views and answers to these pressing recruiting questions:
  • What are the best practices that CHROs, talent acquisition executives and recruiters need to follow to ensure that they are recruiting for retention? 
  • What investments in infrastructure or back-office processes are necessary to create the perception of a seamless experience to deliver the best talent and the most engaged and productive workforce an organization can have? 
  • How do you manage communication and plan for the most engaging recruiting and onboarding process?
The best workforce strategies today are built on bringing in the best talent and deploying them faster with better engagement and productivity.

Learn new techniques and gain valuable insights from Cory and Katy into how to implement these best practices in your organization in our Winning Workforce Strategies Webinar:


Elliot Clark is chairman and chief executive officer of SharedXpertise Media, the parent organization that hosts this HRO Today magazine blog. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Data is Key as Artificial Intelligence Transforms Job Candidate-Nurturing Strategies

By: Julia Mench, Senior Vice President of Global HCM Solutions, BackOfficeAssociates

Today, HR leaders are working in an increasingly competitive environment and face the challenge of sourcing talented job candidates with various skill sets on a global level. Fortunately, talent acquisition strategies have come a long way with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and other data-driven automation technologies for communicating with potential new hires and determining if they will find success within an organization. However, according to CEB only 5 percent of HR executives feel they are effective in using talent analytics due to inaccurate or duplicate data and a lack of understanding of analytics. The statistic is staggering, as data analytics can mean the difference between hiring managers making a gut decision versus a fact-driven decision.

For example, at the beginning of the hiring funnel, organizations such as Unilever and Walmart are using AI to pre-qualify candidates based on their resumes and other digital responses. They then  connect them with HR professionals based on scoring and keyword categorizations. Instead of scanning candidates’ resumes for specific words, AI software uses algorithms to analyze large data sets and match, score and rank job candidates.

Additionally, AI is helping determine specific skill sets that are important to an organization as well as a predicted view into how an applicant will perform once they join a company. By constructing "identity profiles" for candidates, AI can help predict if an individual will be a good match for their position and within the company’s culture. This is critical, as 27 percent of employers said a bad hire has cost them more than $50,000, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Other companies are using a CRM-like approach to seek out candidates and nurture them until a good fit for a position exists. This can help foster relationships between an employer and job seeker until a job opening arises.

Both AI and CRM approaches illustrate that the new world of recruiting demands accurate data regarding both candidates and open positions in order to create a good match in an efficient manner. While a candidate might apply for multiple positions, the HR team can leverage data-driven solutions to cleanse, consolidate, interpret, analyze, and assess key information into a single view and ensure a unified engagement approach based on scoring and readiness rankings for each possible role.

The common denominator for all HR emerging technologies is consistent, clean data and its availability in real time. When recruiters are examining both structured (online job application) and unstructured data (LinkedIn profile, Twitter, published articles), they need to assimilate that information into a population of potential candidates and guarantee they are only reviewing each candidate once. The accuracy of data is important for ensuring that various sources about one candidate are associated with that individual. For example, data referring to an applicant applying as James Jones, who is also known as Jim Jones, should be linked to the same job candidate.

Clean data drives better decision making and can help improve recruiting metrics, but in order for organizations to make the most of this data, various HR technologies and recruiting systems need to be connected and rigor applied to data business processes. Also, data from each technology should be accessible in one central location with a single view. Otherwise, without this visibility across platforms companies could be missing out on qualified candidates and wasting millions in lost time and resources.  

Artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies, can offer important insight into success of a particular job candidate and their potential rate of success with an organization. With insights based on real time data, HR leaders will become better equipped to make informed recruiting decisions.


Julia Mench is senior vice president of global HCM solutions at BackOffice Associates, a provider of information governance and data stewardship solutions for customers worldwide.