10 Tips for Building a Global Business TeamMay 1, 2015
When it comes to doing business globally, we often share this advice with clients: You don’t necessarily have to be internationally active, but do you do have to be internationally aware. A valid strategy might be as simple as monitoring relevant markets. Another might be monitoring customers’, suppliers’ and competitors’ international activities.
However, if your business demands that you develop a global business team, here are a few things to consider.
1) Recruit the right staff. Are you looking to develop a team from scratch, or are there specific roles you need to fill? One company may need a controller who speaks a specific language; another may need an engineer with overall international experience. Still others may be in the early stages of formulating a strategy and only need staff with an interest in traveling abroad and experiencing other cultures. At a minimum, consider including international experience as a prerequisite—or at least as a preferred characteristic—of employment. Know, however, that if you’re not internationally active, these same staff could become frustrated and bored. It’s important to get them involved and provide the right opportunities.
2) Don’t assume that natives of a specific country are the best staffing options. Unless native individuals have meaningful experience working with a U.S.-based business on matters in their countries, our experience is that they’re likely to cut corners. These are corners that natives may get away with but that could jeopardize your foreign-based business, from fixing their mistakes to fines and jail time.
3) Gauge the interest of your staff. Just because you’re putting together a team and are excited and energetic doesn’t mean everyone else will be. Assess your internal talent and their experiences inside and outside of your organization. Assess their biases. There will be people without much of an interest in crossing borders, and that’s okay—at least initially. You can slowly introduce international topics over time, as appropriate.
4) Identify regions of focus. Where are your customers, competitors and suppliers located? Begin monitoring these regions and increase your international quotient (IQ). We often provide clients with a dashboard of management items to track—currency, for example. Where is the U.S dollar compared to other currencies that may impact your business? Most companies don’t track this, believing that, because they conduct all transactions in U.S. dollars all other currencies are irrelevant. Don’t fall into this trap. Even if this doesn’t affect your own operations, it likely affects those of your customers and suppliers—which means that it affects you.