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Why Do Global Teams Fail?

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Opportunities to work on an international teamare becoming more frequent as companies expand to new markets, but team members rarely receive the proper training required to succeed. Dwellworks provides training that explains 12 Cultural Dimensions; this training can help employees avoid instances of major miscommunication when working with people from different backgrounds. A few of these dimensions are described below. 

Differing Views of Responsibility: Some cultures promote individual responsibility, where each person is credited with their own successes and initiatives. Other cultures value high levels of team responsibility and collective consensus, where the entire group is credited with success. Global teams can experience uncomfortable moments if these two sides interact without understanding each other. For instance, if someone from an individualist culture asks someone from a collectivist culture directly what their opinion is on a specific question, the person from a collectivist culture would be uncomfortable answering without team consensus. A better approach is to ask the group collectively where improvements could be made and praising members for their contributions.










Differing Views of Team Structure: Another area where global teams may face challenges is in the structure of the team itself. Some members may feel that each position and responsibility is equal. However, other members may prefer a hierarchical structure where the level or type of work changes with the rank of the team member. The team’s structure should be discussed and agreed upon before the project begins to ensure that each member is comfortable and understands the structure.

Differing Views of Time: When working on a global team, timing is already a challenge due to coordinating schedules and time zones. This obstacle can be compounded by a differing interpretation of time across cultures. Some people feel that promptness and punctuality are essential, while other people operate on a fluid, task-completion orientated clock. A way to manage this disparity is creating a long-term schedule for the project, rather than managing each task individually. This allows each member to operate within their own view of time while ensuring that the project reaches its goal on time.

Differing Views of Communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication is laden with culture-specific clues that take practice and experience to decode. For anyone who has worked with someone from a different culture, these subtle clues may seem strange at first. This uncertainty is magnified when global teams are communicating through technology where elements like facial expression and body language are lost. There is no way to see body language in an email, but there may be other keywords or phrases that help to clarify meaning. Learning to identify these clues through intercultural training will improve the efficiency of the team.


Download Our Cultural Best Practices


If you find yourself on a global team, we recommend receiving intecultural training to prevent any miscommunication before it occurs. For more information on the Global Workforce Development offered by Dwellworks, please visit our website.


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