It is becoming increasingly common today for a project manager to have global team management skills, with team members working in different parts of the globe, all working together on the same project. While distributed teams clearly have a lot of advantages including cost-effective labor, 24hr shifts, and reduced office expenses, project managers also face many new challenges when project planning, trying to effectively overcome global team management. Effective communication, clear expectations, and firm measures of accountability can make a dramatic difference on how effective and productive a team will be.

Clearly communicate goals, project specifications
Setting clear goals and project specifications is always the most important first task of a project manager. The more specific and actionable all of the tasks are, the better your end results will be. The more room that is left for translation, the higher the chances are that the end results will NOT match your original concept. Involving the lead team members in this initial discussion and design will also help in creating specifications that are detailed and include all of the technical details. Being close to a project makes this step especially hard as it is easy to forget the small details. This is why bringing in someone in these early stages, who has not been part of original concept and design, can offer a fresh perspective on the project.

Breakdown project into small tasks
Once the project specifications are clearly defined, the next step is to break down the project into small to-do items. Combine each of the small tasks into related modules that can be assigned to individuals or sub-groups within your team. It is important to match these small tasks and modules with milestones. Review progress upon completion of each module in order to keep the team motivated, and to answer any questions that come up. Early and frequent review sessions can also mitigate any miscommunication of project specifications. The smaller and more defined your tasks are, the higher your productivity levels will be from all team members. Focus on deliverables, not on work schedules. Encourage all of your team members to work when it makes the most sense for them.

Set realistic milestones
There is always a bit of a tug-of-war between project managers and the team members. The project managers always want the project done yesterday, while the team members always need more time. Finding a balance between the two parties can mean the difference between a project that is on-time and one that is late. In order to set realistic timelines, involve your team leaders or team members in the discussion when setting milestones. Encourage transparency among the team by advising them of important dates, meetings, and other milestones that cannot be missed. The more connected all of your team members are to the big picture, the more committed the team will be towards hitting all of their goals, especially the tough ones. In the same way, project managers should be empathetic of the team members concerns when milestones are not realistic, and work with the team to adjust and reschedule.

Encourage constant communication and feedback
Bad news is better than no news at all, or so the saying goes. Effective and constant team communication is an essential part of a well managed team. Encourage communication not only between team member and managers, but also between team members. Project managers should always try to avoid being in a situation where they are the only one who can solve and issue or answer a question. This is especially true when you have teams working in different time zones. In order to prevent unnecessary road-blocks and delays, empower team leads with the tools to handle all of their issues independently. This methodology also encourages lateral problem solving, instead of simply deferring the problem by sending an email to a manager. Create independent “problem solving networks”, that can work through issues separately from your involvement.

Enforce accountability. Be firm, but be fair. 
If all of the above steps have been taken into account, you have a clearly defined, tasked, and scheduled project, and clear communication channels. Furthermore, milestones and specifications have been developed collaboratively with the team. Therefore, a project manager’s job is done, right? No! An effective project manager should stay very closely involved, reviewing project status, providing BOTH positive and negative feedback, and holding the team members accountable to their assigned tasks and milestones. At this stage, and especially with independent teams working around the globe, accountability is extremely important. Global team management makes communication harder but not impossible; a project manager should be aggressive and firm when it comes to enforcing deadlines and reviewing expectations. Be fair, but be firm, when dealing with team members that are missing deadlines or not finishing work on-time. If need be, make the appropriate changes to make sure that your team stays productive. However, use caution to not disrupt the chemistry of a team. A good project manager should respect, and have the respect of all of the people he or she works with. The management approach should be lateral, instead of being laden with unnecessary hierarchy and power struggles.


Read more about team collaboration here.

Request a Demo

© 2006 - 2021. All Rights Reserved.