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6 tips for managing a global workforce

Sarah K. White | Sept. 23, 2016
Telecommuting has made it easier for businesses to operate on a global scale. But for managers that means they might have employees scattered around the world, which poses unique challenges.

Stop micromanaging

If you want your global workforce to thrive, it's time to stop micromanaging. Shawe says the most effective way to manage a diverse and dispersed workforce is to hire the right people and "get out of their way."

Rather than micromanage, he "gives a lot of advice," but avoids giving too many orders. Shawe says you need to go visit your other offices, hire the right people, give them the tools and resources they need to thrive, and then step back and let them work.

"When you micromanage or manage at the task-level, you create the opportunity for excuses. I have found that managing at the results-level works far better globally, and allows you to both hold managers more accountable and leave them feeling more empowered," he says.

Focus on innovation

Innovation is quickly becoming a cornerstone of business, and if you aren't innovating, you aren't keeping up. In fact, as Shawe puts it, "change is the only constant in business," which means fostering innovation and adaptability in your workforce is crucial to avoid future problems. You want to ensure that innovation is a focus for every office, and that all of your employees -- no matter their location -- feel they have a voice in the company and that their ideas will be heard and recognized.

And you might want to extend that innovation to team communication techniques; you can even try opening it up to your employees to see if they have suggestions for the best ways to maintain communication at work. The last thing you want to do, is implement a lot of tools that your employees won't want to use - forcing them to find their own avenues to communicate.

For instance, Harris says that she asks her remote workers to use video chat, rather than just calling in to meetings on the phone or relying on text-based chat platforms. Since implementing video chat tools, she says she's noticed her workers feel "more connected to their colleagues and their role in general."

Be an example

It's no secret that the best way to lead is by example, and Shawe says that, in the case of management, that couldn't be more true. Engagement, productivity and innovation start with the CEO and trickle down from there -- if your workers see management and executive leadership.

Harris also recommends recognizing achievements as they happen rather than overlooking positive efforts and only acknowledging mistakes or missteps. Demonstrate your own levels of engagement by recognizing employees in real-time, instead of waiting for their yearly review, or ignoring them entirely. The more positive feedback you deliver, the happier workers will be, and the more likely they'll be to pass that positivity around the office.


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