We all know trust is a critical component of a successful organization. But for most enterprise or small-medium enterprise (SME) companies, maintaining trust with global teams while expanding across new geographies can present many challenges to maintaining a positive company culture.
In a survey we just completed in conjunction with the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) this past May, we found that Global teams struggle with inclusion and that 62 percent of companies we talked to said that headquarters holds the most influence. Not surprising, but that “headquarters mentality” can have a trickle-down effect that results in a lack of trust amplified by inherently different cultures and expectations.
In the survey, feelings of connectedness, belonging, and inclusion were the only variables that diverged dramatically for global teams versus the organization as a whole—with 15% less-likely to report high or very high levels of feeling unified with the rest of the company. This is significant since we know these feelings typically translate to lower levels of trust if they are overlooked. Feeling untrusted has a direct negative correlation on productivity – and don’t you want your global team engaged?
So how can we ensure a strong and inclusive culture in a global growth environment?
First and foremost, it is important for companies involved in rapid growth to build and nurture their local teams. To do that, you need strong processes and if possible, the assistance of culture experts to optimize the employee experience. You will also need to set them up with compliant, equitable systems, and demonstrate an understanding of local culture. Also, establishing communications practices that make them feel valued and heard—across time zones and on par with employees at headquarters is equally important.
When hiring new employees (and for those currently working for you already), transparency is essential. The Edelman Trust Barometer detailed some of the top considerations people have when contemplating an organization as a potential place of employment. The data found that management always telling the truth is high on their list of importance with a total expectation of 79 percent (38 said they have strong expectations and 41 percent said it is a deal breaker). The report also said that 78 percent of respondents believe that how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.
I couldn’t agree more. Companies with global teams need to make it a point to have regular check-ins so employees know how they are doing and where they fall into the overall mission of the organization. Also, remember to put on the same sorts of celebrations you would if your team worked in-house. Finding ways to commemorate company or department milestones, individual awards, and globally relevant holidays might take a little more creativity, yet the effort pays off in creating a community and fostering borderless team rapport.
Making sure your global employees feel connected to the whole organization is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success. The result is what I call the Triple Bottom Line: happy employees, happy clients and happy shareholders.