Challenges of Managing an Offshore Team
In today’s fast-paced world, many businesses are turning to outsourcing as a means to facilitate growth, increase employee productivity and decrease costs. Offshoring to locations such as the Philippines, India, and Vietnam has become commonplace but it isn’t without pitfalls. Unfortunately, managing an offshore team isn’t quite as simple as managing an in-house team. With an offshore team, you can’t just walk over and check up on them the same way you could in an office.
So despite all of the advantages, managing a remote workforce comes with its own set of obstacles.
We’ve highlighted some of the most common challenges of managing an offshore team, as well as solid solutions and techniques for overcoming them.
Common Challenges of Managing an Offshore Team
Communication is a typical issue in managing a team, whether onshore or offshore. The success of any team, especially an offshore team, depends on clear, consistent, and regular communication. Remember to promote communication by speaking and interacting with your team members on a regular basis.
Encourage communication between people.
When it comes to communication, it is critical to promote an open door approach. When working with an offshore workforce, this is essential for bridging the physical divide between you and your offshore staff. Encourage team members to reach out if they have any questions or concerns, and pay attention to what they have to say.
Conduct catch-up sessions on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Building a successful offshore team necessitates regular, scheduled communication. It’s simple to connect with your team on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis these days, thanks to the abundance of virtual tools available. A weekly casual Zoom team meeting, a 10-minute catch-up via Skype, or a daily “huddle” can make a significant difference. Whatever method you use, keeping in touch with your employees is crucial to establishing a successful offshore team.
Challenge: Cultural Differences
Culture clashes are unavoidable. You’re working with people who grew up in a different environment and have different values and perspectives than you. From the start, cultural boundaries should be acknowledged. From basic courtesy norms to professional ethics, even the smallest culture differences can have a huge impact on your workflow.
Request that both your offshore and onshore teams receive culture training
This will aid both parties in learning about and comprehending each other’s cultural practices and values. Both teams will benefit from culture training in order to better understand each other’s communication styles.
Clear, consistent communication is essential for establishing a productive working relationship.
By using video conferencing, you may open up channels of contact and plan frequent meetings. You’ll grow more familiar with each other’s language and communication patterns as you meet frequently, which will help you read between the lines.
Challenge: Scheduling Difficulties
Your offshore crew is almost certainly located on the other side of the globe, in a different time zone. While some offshore teams may willingly alter their working hours to fit your schedule, scheduling issues may still arise.
Your offshore crew has its own set of holidays and traditions that are not the same as yours. There are days when you expect them to be on job, yet they are celebrating a national holiday. Furthermore, each culture has its own time perspective, resulting in project delays, missed appointments, and increased conflict.
The Japanese, for example, adhere to a tight time schedule. You must be there and ready no earlier or later than 9:00 AM for a 9:00 AM appointment. A few minutes before or after, on the other hand, would be acceptable in Western culture.
Find out important dates and holidays ahead of time.
This will allow you to plan out your workflow and timetable ahead of time, avoiding any unforeseen delays. Take into account both working and non-working vacations. Take the opportunity to inquire about what your offshore staff does over such holidays in order to set realistic expectations for their availability.
Make a schedule for yourself.
Schedule meetings and project sprints in a reasonable amount of time. Determine how many days your offshore team will need to prepare for a meeting and mark it on their calendars so your onshore team can plan accordingly.
Find a happy medium.
Is there any overlap in working hours between the two time zones? For example, your onshore team might work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but your offshore team might work from 3 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. local time.
Challenge: No Leadership Presence
In a typical workplace, a manager keeps team members engaged, ensures that deadlines are fulfilled, and that high-quality work is produced.
When it comes to remote workers or offshore teams, however, leadership is rarely present. As a result, offshore teams might easily feel cut off from the rest of the firm and alienated from the brand.
Assign your offshore team a point person.
He or she could be the region manager or project manager, assisting in the management of cultural differences and scheduling issues. Your offshore crew will be more motivated and involved with the brand if you have a local manager. He or she can plan team-building activities. Once a month, a simple team dinner will help your offshore workforce feel more connected to the firm.
Pay a visit to your offshore group.
Taking the time to meet your offshore employees in person will demonstrate how much you respect their work. It will also help you build a stronger bond with your offshore employees.
Challenge: Mismanaged Expectations
The most prevalent causes of expectations not being realized are miscommunication and misunderstanding. As a result, the product quality is either too poor, the product specifications are incorrect, or the planned deliverables were simply not met.
Ensure that all communications are well-documented.
All directions should be written down so that your offshore staff can refer to them when generating the product or working on your project. This ensures that no important instructions or data are lost in translation.
Request that your offshore team leader repeat the instructions.
During your video conference, your offshore staff may be nodding in agreement, but you have no idea that they don’t grasp what’s expected of them. Requesting that they repeat the directions will clear up any ambiguities that may arise throughout your meeting.
Organize regular alignment sessions.
Ensure that the onshore and offshore teams are working together. This will not only help you strengthen your partnership, but it will also ensure that both teams have the same aims.
Managing an overseas team is always going to be difficult. When employees are not all under one roof and are physically separated from the company, collaboration and communication can become difficult.
You can deal with these problems in a variety of ways. You can build a strong team culture with open communication lines with careful planning. Different management approaches will be required to get the most out of your offshore staff. Successful management of your offshore teams, on the other hand, will result in highly engaged and productive workers.