In today’s modern workplace, it’s often not necessary to be physically on-site to get things done. This was made especially clear when many of us switched to a work from home model during the pandemic, and now many people actually prefer to work remotely.
While some of us are back in the office, or are observing a hybrid model, most of us communicate with our colleagues, peers, and stakeholders via email, video conference calls, and instant messaging.
Strong team building requires an intentional effort to foster structured daily, weekly, quarterly, even annual interactions. Here are some tips that you can use when you communicate with your team.
The power of daily texts, emails, and/or team/group chats
First of all, even though folks are working remotely, there are many tools that provide spontaneous daily virtual communication such as Slack, Instant Messaging, and even chats on various project management tools.
We are talking to each other all the time and frequently. In a way, that’s relationship building.
If you are running B2B marketing or B2C marketing campaigns, close collaboration and constant communication is essential. Sometimes, you just need a quick answer or a file from someone to move things forward.
A quick IM, texting, slacking is an easy way to collaborate with each other as a team.
In one of my previous blog posts I shared simple tips on how to make your video calls look and sound better.
Host a weekly or bi-weekly check-in
If everyone is in constant communication, do we still need to hold meetings? The answer is yes. Constant texting and Slacking is all about helping each other to do our jobs. However, it may not address the bigger issues as a team, collectively.
Setting up a dedicated meeting time is necessary to help ensure teams are all on the same page about the bigger picture, and/or remind everyone about key objectives.
This is especially important if you have a global team working in different time zones. You can run these types of meetings as an agile scrum.
A 30-min (or less) meeting that everyone joins to align and ensure key deliverables are met ought to suffice.
Or, set up a meeting with specific agenda items so that issues or challenges are discussed as a team. Action items are published so that issues are taken care of by the right individuals.
Again, the marketing collaboration meeting doesn’t need to be long, but it needs to be well-run.
Have a PM publish minutes to help keep everyone on task, for example. Make it productive for the whole team. And if you find there is nothing vital to talk about, cancel it.
Quarterly face-to-face meetings are still the best way to build team synergy
If travel budgets allow, it’s best to get together once every quarter or six months.
Local teams can travel to the headquarters or vice versa if you have a global team. Before getting together, though, the corporate team should finalize meeting objectives and agenda topics and incorporate the local team’s feedback.
Don’t pack the agenda with presentation after presentation during face-to-face meetings.
Put several hot topics on the table, then break the team up to allow brainstorming, debates, and discussions. This will engage everyone and encourage team members to get to know each other, which is the foundation of a strong team.
For a lot of countries outside the US, a good relationship starts with a first handshake and a hearty meal. Experience has taught me that face-to-face is still the best way to build personal relationships.
While it’s not impossible, it is much more difficult to build close bonds with teams that sit on the other side of the earth using only digital communication.
Seeing and smiling at each other, shaking hands, even hugging (as appropriate) has a magic touch on forming relationships and building trust.
These kinds of strong connections are important to keep team members feeling like their voices are heard and valued . And being able to bond in person helps to remind everyone they’re working toward a common purpose, even if they’re often far apart.
Whether they happen IRL or online, regular communication is absolutely essential to build a strong marketing team
Explore all options with your team. Determine the format of communication that works for your team on a daily, weekly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Dealing with different time zones
If you work with teams from Europe and Asia, you may need to establish two separate meetings with the same agenda.
There is no perfect answer when it comes to coordination, though. One region or country may still get stuck with a suboptimal time, even if you do everything you can to accommodate.
If that’s the case, you may want to choose to meet just once a month. The regular sync meetings you host can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, as long as they are “regular and timely” in nature.
Some topics to consider covering during the weekly, bi-weekly, or quarterly meetings:
- The company’s business and sales goals
- Corporate-wide marketing plans and success metrics
- Product roadmaps and launch timeline
- Messaging, positioning of products or services, and content plans
- Creative and style guide discussion
- Target audience discussion
- ‘Best practice’ sharing from regions and countries
- Budget discussions
- Lead generation efforts
- Sales discounts and offerings
- Tools and process for marketing and content processes
- Co-marketing with channel partners or distributors
Those topics are merely suggestions, and are far from exhaustive. I of course can’t offer you cookie cutter agenda topics, because every team has its own nuanced challenges and goals.
The best way to build a tailor-made agenda is to talk to your team members – both at the corporate level and regionally – to understand what they want to hear and discuss at your meetings.
It’s ideal if the corporate office takes the lead in running the meetings, taking care to create a clear agenda in advance so that people have time to prepare.
Sticking to an agenda like this will help to respect everyone’s valuable time and get the most out of your global marketing meetings.
As a lead, you don’t need to create a presentation for all the agenda items. You do need to find the appropriate team members within the company to come to the meetings to discuss the agreed upon topics, as well as share their unique insights.
Remember – an enduring working relationship needs to be built over time. Collaboration can’t be achieved by one face-to-face meeting or by ad-hoc communications only.
Like any other relationship, both sides need to put in time and effort to achieve the best possible results.
Make sure to appoint a minutes taker of sorts to keep your meeting minutes. These should be promptly cleaned up and sent out as an outline to all meeting attendees, as well as anyone you think would benefit from reviewing what you discussed.
Draw attention to any outstanding agenda items that weren’t able to be addressed so you can discuss them next time.
If there are tasks that need to be completed based on your discussion, clearly highlight those objectives and assign them to the appropriate team members with a hard deadline.
You should also continue to follow up with those team members to make sure everything is on track.
Encourage meeting attendees to offer feedback if they have opinions on how things went and/or if they have ideas for how things could be improved.
Also encourage meeting attendees to suggest agenda topics for the next meeting so that those can be added accordingly.
As an additional material you can check out my blog post on how to Develop a Winning Global Content Marketing Strategy.
Building strong team relationships takes time, but it’s worth it
However you choose to engage with your colleagues across the globe, make sure you leave communication channels open. You want your team to be able to feel comfortable reaching out with any/all questions or concerns, which should help keep everything running smoothly in the long run.
Show your team members that you’re listening and that you value their input. Whether that’s by treating them to incentives, or just calling out great work during your regular sync meetings.
A team that respects each other is a team that makes the best progress, regardless of how far or wide people are spread across the globe.
Here’s one of my webinars to help you expand on a Scalable Global Content Marketing Strategy.
And if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to reach out on social media or email me.