(Mannheim, June 2019) Whether following mergers or because of the continuing popularity of expansion in the European domestic market, more and more medium-sized companies are going global, with employees all over the world. A global network offers service providers countless benefits, such as extended service hours, multinational language expertise or inter-cultural inspiration for their business. flexword, the respected language service provider from Mannheim, Germany, has itself expanded strongly in recent years and now has locations in London, Novi Sad, Serbia and Jacksonville, Florida, so is also well aware of the challenges this can present. Among its roughly 50 permanent employees are 13 different nationalities, plus some 300 translators a month from all over the world. Here, the company explains step by step how all its employees work seamlessly together across the many time zones and national borders.
- Technological requirements
Highly innovative technology – especially powerful data networks – is a basic prerequisite for any form of cooperation. If necessary, companies must be prepared to maintain a technological edge by providing their own high-speed fibre-optic cables. This is then combined with powerful servers to access and transfer the company’s and customers’ data quickly and securely, plus various communication tools. Unfortunately, corporate policies and modern technology often clash with one another – especially when it comes to privacy. To remain open to new technologies and progress, entrepreneurs should develop a flexible approach to compliance; that is the only way to effectively combine modern communication tools and data security.
- The right communication channels
In addition to email and telephone, chat programmes are the simplest and fastest alternative means of sending data and information. Texts, smileys or pictures also make it easier to communicate interculturally on a day-to-day basis. Moreover, though video chats cannot always compete in terms of quality with meeting in person, face-to-face communication helps people build relationships and spot and solve problems faster. An intranet, meanwhile, keeps all employees equally up to date. News, virtual bulletin boards, presentations or contact information are stored in one place and can be viewed at any time, from any place.
- Understanding cultural differences
Different cultural backgrounds often give rise to false expectations, misinterpretations and misunderstandings. This can be countered by providing guidelines listing different cultures’ fundamental characteristics and values, encouraging greater tolerance and proposing solutions for intercultural misunderstandings. At the same time, companies need to give all team leaders training on this challenge so that they can recognise and defuse conflict early on. Regular discussions between a trained team leader and the employees in question also help them to understand cultural differences and prevent recurring problems.
- Team building and appreciation
The topic of appreciation is often under-appreciated. At the company head office, managers can quickly offer a word of praise here or there and chat to employees. By making frequent local visits in person, or deliberately carrying out team-building activities such as joint events or trips, executives can also give employees abroad a feeling of recognition and belonging. But even “smaller” measures, such as workshops for individual employees at other sites, can be of great benefit. Capturing their undivided attention, they offer employees an individual insight into a previously unknown part of the company, introducing them to other employees and the workflow in a different country. flexword has also deliberately chosen not to engage in competitive thinking. Whether someone is a project manager or a translator, all skills and personality types are equally important to flexword. This of course includes paying the same level of attention to all employees, for example, in the form of meetings or feedback.
- Globally communicating corporate values
The management’s task is to sustainably and consistently implement corporate values. Newly recruited professionals need to have particular features specifically pointed out to them, while the others require regular training on these points. Regular appearances at the various locations are essential, as are frequent discussions between the management and team leaders, even if this may be time-consuming and sometimes expensive. flexword itself has also had very good experience with employee surveys, inviting opinions not just about tools, techniques and processes, but also about cooperation as a whole and the atmosphere in the teams. Those who offer their employees regular opportunities for feedback and will see increasingly open communication habits. This creates the ideal conditions for continuous improvement, motivated employees, successful projects and satisfied customers.