Do you struggle to communicate across borders? (Part 2)
This is the second part of a two-part post. Click here to read part one.
In the first part of this post, we looked at the findings of a recent report that found many businesses believe improved cross-border communications could help to increase profits. Respondents blamed ineffective communication for, among other things, lower productivity and the loss of international business deals.
In this second part, we set out a few tips on how businesses can improve their cross-border communications:
- Make communication a priority. Communicate regularly to ensure that everyone knows what is happening, whether they are based at headquarters or checking in remotely from a different time zone
- Be visible. Staff in remote offices may feel detached from what is happening at headquarters, so ensure senior people take the time to visit these teams on their travels and help them feel connected to the wider business
- Find out what your people need. Ask your teams in different markets about the communication challenges they face. For example, are people missing out on important information because the intranet doesn't work properly in their office? Should you vary the times of staff conference calls to allow for time zone differences?
- Understand cultural differences. Take the time to understand how communication varies in different markets. Are teams encouraged to share ideas with their managers and flag up problems as they arise, for example, or is there a more hierarchical culture which inhibits open communication?
- Communicate clearly. Avoid jargon, acronyms and business-speak, which may not be understood by those in other markets. Instead, focus on delivering clear and accessible messages that explain what is happening across the business and what you expect from your people
- Localise the message. Think about how you can use your local managers to tailor messages to their markets. Could they hold a meeting once a week to update staff on company-wide news and how it applies in their market? Or adapt a global recognition policy to the needs of their local team?
- Share stories across the business. Ensure that communication flows both ways, by sharing tales of what your teams in other markets have achieved. As well as making them feel valued, this will help colleagues understand what they contribute to the business
- Invest in training. With ineffective communication putting business deals at risk and lowering productivity, it may also make sense to invest in staff training and development to help your teams work together more effectively
Whatever your current approach, the report highlights that there are very real opportunities for companies that make an effort to improve their cross-border communications and collaboration. Will you be one of them?
Have you lost business because of ineffective communication? What other communication challenges have you faced when working with teams in different countries?