On managing geographically distributed teams…

The first step is to ensure that you have a solid, well defined set of processes that are ‘idiot-proof’ and basically simple to communicate, understand, interpret and implement.

The next step is to define the communication plan – Timing, Scheduling, technology (Conference calls, Virtual meetings, Skype like video conferencing, physical travel, etc), cultural considerations, Language limitation considerations, etc.

Consider documenting how the teams will work together – who does what? A simple Document of Understanding goes a long way in spelling out key roles, tasks and responsibilities that are being handed off and taken over during the initial transition meetings. This prevents future fall out like teams saying they were not clear about what they were expected to take over and execute.

Factor in the ongoing attrition problems that impact all geographically distributed teams. Your process needs to be robust enough to ensure that when a member leaves the team or is moved to a different role, there is a consistent induction program to address the new replacement employee’s needs.

Keep an open mind towards applying newer networking and virtual teaming applications and solutions – working across the globe with teams who are scattered far and wide is here to stay…get used to it…embrace it…enjoy the difference!

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