Hiring a global team is a crucial part of international expansion. The team is the vehicle that will deliver your global vision for you – these are the folks who are going to get stuff done.
As the result of the COVID 19 pandemic, how we work has changed dramatically – everywhere. At our organisation we were building a global team and working successfully across borders years before most people had even considered this scenario. We were a global virtual team (GVT) who saw global virtual teams as the future, especially for companies starting out in the international space.
The upside of a GVT is that it’s cost effective, you get access to great talent, and you can service multiple time zones. The downside is that GVTs often involve more complexity than monocultural teams located in one place. This is because they are diverse and there are greater cultural differences between team members. Decision-making may also be more complex and all these factors make them harder to manage. GVTs require robust systems and a highly structured team culture to work well.
So how do you create a global virtual team that works?
Decide who you need on the team
The first step to creating your global team is to work out who you need. I suggest you review your strategic plan and goals for international expansion. Use those as a guide to who you should be hiring, where and when.
Go where the talent is
As you recruit your global team, remember that supply exists in ‘hubs’ that hold remarkable potential for geo-targeted global recruiting. In other words, if you know where to look, there may be lots of suitable candidates who would fit the role you are trying to fill, and who may be willing to do so on a competitive basis. For example, in 2022, Vietnam is the place to source a full-stack developer, the Philippines is great for digital marketing, operations roles and designers, and you cannot go past India for accountants.
Depending on the role, you might look to recruit in your new target market, from your home market or a third market.
Hire people who align with your values and mission
When it comes down to it there are three questions you need to answer when it comes to any potential new recruit, at home or offshore.
- Can they do the work?
- Will they do the work?
- Will they ‘fit’ with the rest of the team?
That being said, exactly what sort of people do you want in your global team? I believe that, as you build a global team, you should ideally be looking for people who have a deep understanding of your industry and a deep knowledge of the markets you want to operate in. If it is relevant to the role, they should be willing to travel, make cold calls to other companies as needed and work odd hours to accommodate different time zones.
Your ideal candidates will share your drive and mission to make your company global. This is even more important when your team is dispersed rather than centralised, because you have fewer means of motivating them. They need to be able to get excited without you pushing them on a daily basis.
If you are hiring for a GVT, you will need people who are autonomous by nature and comfortable working without explicit instructions and fixed schedules. To be a virtual worker requires the ability to work independently and to take initiative, because you are not surrounded by team members who will prompt you to act. A person who is not self-directed may have a hard time fitting into a GVT. They will constantly feel that the manager is not giving enough instructions and will feel lost because the work environment lacks structure.
Your remote team members should also be good communicators. A lot of your interaction is likely to be through written communication, so make sure the person can write to-the-point messages that are easy to understand. Communication is the only tool in the manager’s toolbox for improving the team and achieving goals.
Cynthia Dearin is the author of Business Beyond Borders: Take Your Company Global.