Five Tips to Recruit and Manage a Global Project Team

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Recruit | Five Tips to Recruit and Manage a Global Project Team

To compete in global markets, you need global talent. The demands of a customer in China diverge widely from those of a customer in Canada. In this increasingly connected world, you can’t limit your recruitment to local markets.

How exactly can you adopt a global recruitment strategy? Once recruited, how do you effectively manage an international team? This article will answer these questions and more below.

1. Go Beyond Resumes

The traditional resume often fails when hiring internationally. Variations in local work and education standards can make it difficult to develop an evaluation matrix for shortlisting international candidates.

As an antidote, look beyond resumes and consider more standard signifiers of expertise. Internationally recognized certifications, standardized test scores, and even skill-based competitions can be a worthy replacement to resumes.

For example, if you’re hiring for a project management position, you might prioritize the PMP certification over a resume. If you’re hiring for technical talent, a team-based competition board like Kaggle can help.

2. Consider Local Talent Concerns When Making Offers

As any experienced international recruiter will tell you, local talent priorities and concerns vary widely across regions and geographies. For example, a MetLife survey found that more workers in China considered a higher salary as a reason to stay in a company. In India, higher benefits trumped a higher salary when it comes to employee needs.

Your goal should be to consider the expectations of local talent and design an attractive package. Your offer should align with the cultural practices, workplace expectations, and established employment trends in the region.

3. Invest in Team Building

Just because a team is working remotely from locations across the globe doesn’t mean that you can eschew team building. In fact, in the absence of a shared space or common culture, investing in team building activities becomes even more important.

Here are a few pointers for team building in global teams:

  • Respect cultural beliefs: Any team building activity you undertake should take cognizance of cultural beliefs of each team member. Get individual team members to buy into any activity before recommending it to the rest of the group. Make sure that team members don’t feel pressured into participating in any activity they are uncomfortable with.
  • Focus on collaborative digital activities: If your team is remote, your team building should revolve around collaborative digital activities. Think of multiplayer games, digital treasure hunts, etc. Pick activities that reward teamwork instead of skill (such as team-based strategy games instead of action games).
  • Encourage non-work collaboration: For a team to thrive, team members should have something in common that goes beyond their work responsibilities. Encourage team members to meet, converse, and collaborate on non-work activities. Create dedicated communication channels where people can exchange ideas and have conversations without the pressure of work.

4. Adopt Managerial Practices that Align with Cultural Expectations

To manage a multicultural team built across geographical boundaries, you have to eschew standard managerial practices. Instead, you have to accept, understand, and adopt cultural differences in your management approach.

A few things you should consciously look out for are:

  • Leadership approach: Leadership styles vary greatly across cultures. Some cultures appreciate a more collaborative approach to leadership, while others will prefer a more distant and forceful leader. Understand the cultural approach to leadership for all your team members and incorporate it into your management practices.
  • Time: How people approach time is also variables across cultures. Some cultures consider deadlines to be a hard stop in the work process. Others might see it just as a guide. If the people on your team come from cultures where time is seen as a flexible concept, change your management approach accordingly.
  • Responsibilities: In some cultures, speaking out and raising your hand to take on responsibilities is encouraged. In others, it is considered rude. As a manager in a multicultural team, you’ll have to understand each team member’s approach to responsibilities and change your expectations accordingly.

5. Adopt Practical Solutions to Time Zone Conflicts

If you’re managing a global, distributed team, one of your biggest problems will be dealing with time zone conflicts. The farther apart your team members are, the harder this challenge.

Some things you should consider are:

  • Changing meeting schedules: A fixed meeting schedule can often inconvenience team members located in different time zones. For instance, if you have early morning weekly meetings (by EST), a team member based in Australia will have to be up late at night to attend them. Fix this problem by changing meeting schedules regularly so all project team members feel that their needs are being met.
  • Automate messaging: To get around the problem of time zones, automate messaging as much as possible. For instance, instead of sending a deadline reminder manually, you can instruct your project management tool to send one automatically as per the task assignee’s local time zone. This can save you tons of micromanagement.

Recruiting people from a global talent pool and managing them effectively is one of the biggest challenges for modern organizations. Getting it right can improve your competitiveness and help you win against bigger, but less diverse businesses.

Have you ever managed a global team? What were your biggest challenges? Share your experience in the comments below!

About the Author

Puranjay is a marketing leader and founder of GrowthPub, a content-focused marketing agency that helps SaaS startups scale their digital presence. He also blogs at

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