Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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How to work effectively with international teams while maintaining life/work balance

September 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

My friend’s Facebook Updates:
"Tim is so tired. Mid-night."
"Tim is getting ready for a meeting with India development team. 10:52pm"
"Tim just finished a call with Japan team. 9:00PM"
"Tim is having another a meeting with EU team. 7:30AM"

Tim is a product manager at a large enterprise software company in the Silicon Valley. His development team is based in India, while his business team members are in the US, UK, Germany and Japan. He has been asked to launch a major product globally.

When your job description includes "global" — it’s a blessing, but is also a curse. 🙂 You need to simultaneously interact with your colleagues from multiple time zones. It’s hard.

What can you do to make yourself less stressful, more productive, and maintaining a reasonable schedule? Here is what I have learned:

  • Take turns with your international teams to stay late. For example, if you stay late this time, the next time is for your international counterpart to stay late.
  • Establish a good habit of writing clear, and thorough emails to answer questions.
  • Don’t make yourself as the single point of contact (and failure) for all project related questions. Make sure you have some knowledge transfer to other team members in your office. They should be able to take some workload off you and help answer questions from you remote teams.
  • Provided clear and detailed documentation.
  • If you have development teams in both remote locations and your headquarter, carefully divide the project into "self-contained" components and components that require a lot of coordination and clarification. Give the self-contained components to your remote teams.
  • If you’re going to make multiple calls at night, take some time off during the day. You need some rest and relaxation. Don’t burn yourself out — your project needs you!

Do you have any tips of working effectively with international teams and maintain life/work balance? Drop me a comment.

Tags: Career Fast Track · Get Project Done · Product Management · Work/Life Balance

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Nicolas // Dec 10, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Global responsibility can really be a curse as you described. Especially n an international environment it is important to make good use of email since it is an asynchronous communication tool that does not require both ends to be present at the same time. I wrote a bit on how to make best use of email on my Time Management Master Blog:

    You can also significantly improve communication with your global teems using Wikis and Intranets for information sharing.


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