6 Characteristics of High-Performing Global HR Teams


By Sharad Verma May 19, 2014

Spread across various geographies, global teams must collaborate virtually, gaining from each other’s perspectives. This way of working offers consistency, efficiency and superior results, while leveraging talent.

Some teams succeed at this better than others. Below are characteristics of teams that are more successful:

Moving beyond cultural differences to establish common ground. Great global teams move beyond cultural differences and work from their similarities. This helps to focus on not what is different but what is similar and common. People who travel and have worked across culturesknow that while there are many external differences across cultures there are essential human similarities underneath: the need to berecognized; to contribute positively by utilizing talent; to make a difference; to understand and to be understood. This is the raw material on which the fabric of success is built for successful cross-cultural teams. Especially among young people, this is truer than ever before. Great teams are often able to build their own culture and ways of doing things that take prominence over national or local ways of doing things. This means that the team is building its own identity and is able to set norms toward high performance.

Establishing frequent contact, both formal and informal. Successful global teams know that there is no substitute for frequent communication. There is no such thing as over-communication. In fact, effective communication happens not just on a need-to-know basis but more than that, both informally and formally.

Formalizing Work Processes

The effectiveness of global HR teams requires establishing formal work processes. This makes workflow smooth and predictable and reduces the possibility of bad surprises. Work processes involve:

  • Producing formal reports
  • Scheduling updates
  • Arranging meeting and conference calls
  • Conducting online simultaneous work sessions
  • Clarifying objectives and outcomes
  • Holding mutual discussions and establishing consensus
  • Ensuring openness and sharing

Using Technology Effectively

Great teams typically use more than one technology to stay in touch, collaborate and get things done. Some of these include:

  • Conference calls
  • Instant messaging
  • Skype, FaceTime, Internet-based calls
  • Google Hangout
  • Google Drive, Dropbox and other forms of shared workspaces
  • Webex Internet conferencing

Distributing Work and Assigning Roles

The previous ways of working involved centralized command and control. This meant that policies were formed in one place and implemented in other geographies. Decision-making rested with a few folks at corporate headquarters. Truly high-performing global teams are able to leverage the diversity of talent across the globe and distribute leadership and roles based on talent. This results in better work output and results.

Respecting Your Colleagues

All great teams are founded on respect. Respect makes things easy, dissolves differences and provides a rhythm to the teamwork. Here are some important examples:

  • Respect for time zones
  • Trusting others in case of misunderstanding
  • Sharing workload
  • Rising to the occasion
  • Making sacrifices
  • Respect for others’ viewpoints, especially when they are different
  • Understanding and respect for diversity

Sharad Verma is senior HR director, SunGard Global Technology, based in Pune, India.

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Global HR page

Keep up with the latest Global HR news


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs


Become a SHRM Member

Become a SHRM Member

Join/Renew Today


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.