In today’s interconnected world, the impact of culture on an organization is hard to overstate. It’s common knowledge that company culture drives people’s motivations, innovation capability and impacts an organization’s ability to expand to new markets and acquire new customers.
When it comes to creating truly international organizations, only a handful of companies have been successful in translating their culture into new markets. Successful international organizations are not only able to replicate the core culture that defines the ethos of the organization but also adapt to local sensibilities, making it relevant for its people.
Even with technology advancement and virtual connectivity, there are still a large number of global companies where offices work in isolation with little communication with their headquarters. This can result in a geographically and culturally segregated workforce, not aligned with the organization’s overall vision and objectives.
While distance from headquarters comes with its own set of challenges and interdependencies, culturally strong organizations are inclusive and provide all employees, across geographies with the same opportunities for growth, leadership, and success, irrespective of where they come from.
The most important task for a leader then is to rally their people behind the company mission – irrespective of where they are located. An organization will benefit tremendously if it has more and more people to drive the same value in different contexts.
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Here are some of my learnings from building a purposeful organization that delivers on shareholder, client, and talent agenda, away from global headquarters.
Build Context And A Sense Of Belonging.
Talent needs to be ignited by a sense of purpose that is relevant to the organization. To enable better understanding of the organization’s overall priorities and challenges, leaders managing remote offices have to work hard to create lines of sight for their people. People are intrinsically looking to feel connected to a larger purpose and their leaders have the responsibility of inspiring their teams and nurturing a sense of pride and belonging.
By sharing a compelling value proposition and making the local workforce internalize this vision, leaders can create opportunities for people to grow and add value to the business.
As one moves to away from global headquarters, conflicts and messages can get amplified or even misdirected. Clear and consistent communication from leaders, both in person and via technology ensures that even geographically removed team members have a strong sense of their leadership, guidance, and direction for the business.
It is important to show the impact that employees working remotely have on the company and the role that they play in its success. When it comes to communication, more is less. Strong organizational culture trickles into every aspect of an inclusive international organization.
It translates into hiring the right people, setting the right expectations, and building a culture of integrity and trust.
Globally Dexterous Leadership.
Leaders need to maximise business impact created by the strong culture and set-up relevant programs that provide opportunities for learning and growth along with global exposure. Committed leaders who help bridge differences and navigate challenges that may require intervention are the backbone of setting up successful international organizations.
At the same time, headquarters need to empower leaders in-market to take decisions and resolve conflicts locally. If there are too many dependencies and delays in decision-making, it can affect the efficiency and morale of local teams.
Companies should focus on creating a culture of meritocracy and trust, regardless of where their offices are located, and this will allow them to transcend physical boundaries. When it comes to inclusive international organizations, companies that imbibe global culture while adapting to local sensibilities are the ones that stand the test of time.