As companies adjust to the growing needs of an industry, managers of global departments may be asked to expand their leadership roles by taking on teams from all over the world. This is no easy feat, and in most situations a manager must adjust their current style to better align with several different aspects of the new location.
Prior to my new role as, VP customer support, The America’s, my focus was solely on the U.S. and Canada’s support and services team. I have spent my the last 10 plus years building the team, establishing relationships, becoming familiar with the do’s and don’ts of what works in this part of the world. However, when tasked with taking on the management of support teams in South and Central America, I understood that there were many things that I needed to learn in order to be successful in that region.
When I started learning about the new region, I found that there are key transition strategies to consider, including three that I found particularly beneficial. As a result, I have been able to successfully ramp up my team, make measureable improvements both day-to-day and long term, and have received positive feedback from both the team and upper management.
Understand the expectations
First and foremost, it is extremely important, to understand the expectations from the top. Whether the team was already established, or it is completely new territory, knowing what upper management would be looking to change or implement is critical to the team’s success.
This includes learning about the regions strengths and weaknesses, areas that management is looking to improve, and what the vision is for both short and long term. Not only will having this knowledge help to get a good baseline of where to start, but it will also help establish the type of management style needed before the position change is announced to the company.
Getting to know the region
Now that management knows what is expected, the next step is to get a really good grasp of the differences in the new region. Education of how the region is structured, who the main players are, what the organizational chart looks like, and who has what responsibilities will be exceedingly important. Getting to know this aspect of the team will make the day-to-day smoother as it will be easier to know who to go to for certain information, and will allow necessary changes to be made more quickly.
Additionally, new managers are going to need to understand the operational differences in order to be successful. This can range from becoming familiar with regional employment laws, vacation practices, annual contract renewals, and much more. Comprehension of these functions will allow for a more straightforward transition and will provide the ability to plan more effectively.
A big part of getting to know the region is also learning about the cultural differences in every country and area that you are going to be working in. Get a good feel for the habits in each country, for example, some countries prefer to get right down to business, and some prefer to first build relationships and then discuss the topic at hand.
Lastly, it’s important to understand what is already working in that market. While it may seem easier to come in and push a familiar product to the new regions consumers, in many cases it does not mean it will be a top seller in a different part of the world. Getting a good sense of what the needs of the customers are and learning what products and services fit into their daily lives, will allow the organization to match or exceed the markets expectations. For example, at Kaspersky, virtualization products are popular in North America but is not an area of focus in Latin America.
Getting to know the people
No matter the level of management, knowing and understanding the employees of the new region is crucial. No one person is able to do everything needed for a large team, so it is vital that everyone is working towards the betterment of the team and company.
In the first few months, scheduling discovery calls with everyone on the new team and previous management is vital. Asking key questions during these meetings will help to understand individual’s strengths within the team and areas that are in need of additional support. This will also be an opportunity to understand the management style for each member of the team. Some people are more forward and like to be pushed, while others are independently driven and will find constant check-ins irritating. Recognizing these differences will allow for better communication and a more satisfied employee.
After the initial meetings, the task of getting to know everyone does not end. Participating in regional events will to help unify the entire team under the new management and shows in the initiative to continuing to build on the relationship.
Strive to get regional buy-in, as these conversations and team activities build rapport and trust among the team. Walk the team through ideas as an initial step prior to implementation and incorporate data analysis and historical successes from other regions into your presentation of the new methods. If the team is onboard with the new direction, managers will be able to establish trust and good working relationships.
This process will show the new team why some of these changes will benefit them and the transition will go more smoothly. This will only be enhanced by getting their opinions on the direction for the region, making sure to let the team know of the plan, how it was decided upon, and why it will work for their clientele. Keep in mind, they are the experts.
Lastly, recognize accomplishments that members of the team are working hard to achieve. Acknowledging big wins, recognizing hard work and implementing good ideas shared by the team will encourage hard work and team spirit. People want to work for managers that show support and encourage a positive culture within the team and company.
The first few months of the management of a new regional team are critical. Understanding the regions laws, cultures and team members, along with the expectations from top management will set up a strong foundation to hit the ground running. The team will feel empowered with the new course of action, they will have the tools to be successful and the company will be better for it.