Monday, July 21, 2008

Panel: Communication Strategies of Successful Virtual Teams

This was a panel, and I really enjoyed it. A fair amount of the focus (naturally?) was about inter-cultural communication between American workers and colleagues in Asia and India. A little bit on relations with Europe, but I guess at the moment with the rise of technology markets in China, India, and other areas in Asia, these are the most important areas for inter-cultural communications right now, and may be less understood for working relationships than European cultures.
Some points:
  • Distance logistics - face time is incredibly valuable. Plan to do things that are more valuable during face time. Don't do stuff that can be done on the phone.
  • You might start with broad cultural stereotypes, but alter your interactions as you actually know people. Resist the human impulse to blame stupidity.
  • When you are thinking "Whaaatt????!!!???", say "Help me to understand ..."
  • Be precise and clarify expectations - what does "I'll have that soon" mean?
  • Consider getting a "culture coach" to help you with language and cultural differences.
  • When editing, focus on language/grammar issues, not the person (that rule goes for any kind of editing!)
  • Put SLAs to projects if performance has been an issue.
  • Some voice-to-voice contact is needed every week.
  • Be aware that as technical communicators, your vocabulary can be more extensive that other native English speakers, let alone foreign or second-language speakers

The panellists were: Lisa R. Pappas, Andrea Ames, Jan Pejovic, Geoff Hart.

1 comment:

Writer said...

Like the bit about "Help Me to Understand" .. that is such a nice way of putting it.. and it puts people at ease doesn't it? Thanks for that post. Nikki