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Same team, different time zones


To add to operational challenges, in a global company it’s perfectly normal for teams to be made up of employees who have never physically met, plus work in different countries and time zones. Indeed, some teams that work globally may not meet each other face-to-face until after they have been employed. So, in this instance, the interview process needs to also take into consideration the personality of potential team members to ensure a good fit and an implicit understanding of what each person is individually working towards, together with the team’s objectives. When bringing someone new into


a team, it is important to find out how employees perform across identified soft skills, by finding out their personal qualities and asking behavioural or sit- uation-specific questions. For example, it is always good practice to understand a person’s work preferences, learning style and sources of motivation first and foremost – specifically in roles that are depending upon team performance. Te key is to remember to be open-minded and not to look for a specific type of personality. Go out of your way to look for divergent people who think differ- ently, have unrelated interests and complement, rather than duplicate, what the business already has. Of course, there is a lot to be said


for physical proximity and, in my experience, the difference between a team that’s working ‘virtually’ and has never met before, versus a team working across borders, where there has been at least an initial face-to-face contact, is clearly evident. Admittedly, this is not always practical or financially viable. However, where possible, an initial face-to-face meeting can be an invaluable investment when it comes to assimilating qualitative metrics and inciting greater motivation among team members. Undoubtedly, technology has laid


the foundations for global companies to connect instantaneously, ensuring it is easy to work in virtual teams more efficiently and effectively. Tis is


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where the true essence of teamwork can really come into play. Unless there is an emotional connection between the team, employees will typically operate at a transactional level that could be defined more as a ‘group’ rather than a ‘team’. Without meeting face-to-face, the objective is to connect emotionally before the work begins. Tis is a huge challenge for global businesses to conquer, because they need to work together to overcome different time zones, languages and cultures, both virtually and physically, to reach a shared common goal. Sometimes this can be achieved simply by having group chats on social media prior to work, or an open discussion on an interesting topic of current affairs as an icebreaker before tackling the next project. Tis replicates the type of conversations we enjoy on coffee or lunch breaks.





which is highly variable, depending upon the specific context. Psychologists Joseph Luft and


Harrington Ingham created the Johari window way back in the 1950s as a simple and useful technique to improve a person’s awareness and understanding of themselves and their fellow team members. To paraphrase, there are things we


know about ourselves that are evident to others who know us. Tere are things we know about ourselves that others don’t know. Tere are things that others perceive about us that we ourselves are not aware of, and there are things that no one knows until put into a specific situation. It is the latter two that become


particularly interesting for L&D practitioners when facilitating individual development and the creation of effective teams. However, after joining a team,


Go out of your way to look for divergent people who think differently, have unrelated interests and complement, rather than duplicate, what the business already has


To psychometric or not to psychometric… that is the question


While technology and asynchronous execution of tasks can resolve many of the issues concerning time zones and language barriers, the greater challenge is promoting awareness and tolerance to cultural differences in management styles and approaches to work. L&D practitioners have the unique ability to operationalise their insights on employee talent by creating teams with a range of complementary skillsets, which can help to address potential gaps, or foster creativity through divergent approaches to solving problems. Tools such as psychometric tests


can be helpful in bringing breadth and depth to a team. However, the interpretation of results typically relies on self-assessment of personal characteristics or preferences,


psychometric tests, such as the DISC® personality profile and Belbin’s team role inventories can provide useful insights in building understanding and appreciation of what each member brings to the table. Some team leaders use certain psychometric tests for purposes that the test was not intended for, or does not claim to measure. Tere is a danger when the results


are used to categorise individuals with blanket descriptors; often there is an implication that some results are superior to others (for example, a perception that to be a good leader, you should have X as your dominant quality). It’s important to recognise the results are a product of an individual’s self-assessment in a single, imagined context. I find the most beneficial outcome of such test results can be seen when teams use these to acknowledge, leverage and accommodate the differences in the personalities of each team member.


How to deliver a successful performance review


For me, the fascinating part of L&D is meeting each employee every year to discuss their development goals and then watching them grow, mature and develop both individually and within their teams. Reviews, regular meetings and conversations about an employee’s personal development


 | July 2017 | 19


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