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Communication Tips for Global Teams

Thursday, October 30, 2014

People often ask RebelMouse CEO and founder Paul Berry how he managed to build his global engineering team. 
In a recent post for the HBR Blog Network, “Communication Tips for Global Virtual Teams,” Berry explains that he gained a lot of insight about managing globally dispersed teams during his work as CTO of Huffington Post, vice president at Related Capital, and advisor for Lerer Hippeau, as well throughout his tenure on the Digital Advisory Board for American Express.

Berry writes that a lot of his success “comes down to being really intentional about how our globally dispersed team communicates.” His top tips for communicating with global teams include:

  • Live and breathe your email, and make sure the team does too. According to Berry, the asynchronous nature of email, rather than instant messaging or texting, “fits our time zone difference and odd working hours in general.”
  • Give the benefit of the doubt. Because his own team has huge cultural and language differences, Berry has learned to advise them to “forgive each other constantly for odd grammar, odd behavior, and instead try to make the beauty of building something together lift us above any confusion.”
  • Overcommunicate. Berry describes how he wants his team to "always be inquisitive while also working on the little pieces of concrete stuff."
  • Be intentionally positive. Berry has found that "it's way too easy for things to sound negative in an email." Therefore, he encourages his team to be "overtly friendly in their emails, even if it means they sound less 'businesslike.'"
  • Offer suggestions, not critiques. It can be hard to keep the conversation going when conflicting parties are on opposite sides of the globe. His advice: "If you don't like someone else's idea, can you suggest an alternative instead of simply sharing your dislike?"

Read the complete HRB Blog Network post at http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/10/communication-tips-for-global-virtual-teams.


About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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