The World is Your Oyster: How to Build Successful International Teams


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

As the world becomes increasingly connected, building successful international teams is becoming necessary for businesses looking to thrive globally.

Article 9 Minutes
The World is Your Oyster: How to Build Successful International Teams

Global staffing can bring a wealth of benefits to your company. However, it also presents unique challenges that must be navigated in order to build a united and productive team.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of building an international team and the challenges of global hiring and recruiting. We’ll also discuss best practices for recruiting globally and the top skills to look for in international candidates.

But we understand that building a successful international team doesnt just end because theyve accepted the job. With this in mind, we’ll also address cultural differences and how to navigate them, managing and communicating with an international team and the tools and technology that will support global collaboration.

Benefits of building a successful international team

Building a successful international team can increase productivity. In fact, one-third (31%) of HR professionals say increased productivity is one of the top benefits of having a global team.

Not only this, but it increases diversity within the company. A diverse team brings with it a range of perspectives and experiences that can lead to creative problem-solving and innovative ideas. It also helps to avoid groupthink and can lead to better decision-making.

Another benefit of building an international team is access to new markets. International candidates can bring valuable insights and connections from their home countries, which can lead to expanded business opportunities. Plus, having team members who are familiar with different cultures and languages can help to navigate the complexities of doing business in new markets.

Finally, over one in five (21%) executives believe global mobility is key to attracting and retaining top talent - and it’s true. This is because many candidates are looking for opportunities to work on global projects and gain experience in different cultures. By offering these opportunities, you can make your company more attractive to those candidates, which in turn can reduce staff turnover.

The challenges of global hiring and recruiting

While there are many benefits to building an international team, there are also some unique challenges that you must navigate. One of the biggest challenges is the logistics of recruiting globally.

It can be difficult and time-consuming to find and vet candidates in different countries. This is especially hard if there are language barriers or differences in cultural norms. As a result, 16% of hiring professionals have confessed that language and communication barriers are the biggest challenge they face when recruiting internationally.

Whats more, up to 76% of recruiters say that finding the best talent is their greatest challenge. As with hiring in any country, finding the right candidates can take time and patience. This is perhaps why almost half (46%) of recruiters say they struggle to find good global candidates with an international outlook.

Another challenge hiring professionals come up against is navigating the legal and regulatory landscape of different countries. Each country has its own laws and regulations regarding employment, and companies must ensure that they are in compliance with these laws when hiring international candidates.

Finally, cultural differences can pose a challenge when building an international team. Different cultures have different communication styles, work norms and expectations, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts if not navigated carefully.

Best practices for recruiting globally

So, in order to successfully recruit on a global scale, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place right from the start. This strategy should include a plan for identifying and vetting candidates, as well as navigating the legal and regulatory landscape.

  1. One best practice is to work with local recruiters or staffing agencies who have expertise in the local market. These recruiters can help you to identify the top candidates and navigate the cultural and legal landscape.
  2. Another good practice is to have a clear job description that carefully sets out the requirements for the position. This can help to attract the right candidates and ensure that they have the necessary skills and experience for the job.
  3. The final step is to always be transparent about the hiring process and timeline. This is because a staggering 82% of candidates expect employers to provide a clear timeline for the hiring process. They also want to be updated regularly as the process moves forward. 

If they’re unsure about how they’ll be interviewed from a different country or how long it’ll take them to hear back on their application, candidates may be hesitant to apply. This is why it’s so important to provide clear communication throughout the process if you hope to attract and retain the top talent.

The top skills to look for in international candidates

When recruiting internationally, there are certain skills and qualities that are particularly important to look for in the right candidates. These include:

  • Cultural awareness: Candidates who are aware of and sensitive to different cultures are more likely to be successful in a global team
  • Communication skills: Clear communication is essential for a successful international team, particularly when juggling different time zones and language barriers, so candidates with strong communication skills are highly valued
  • Adaptability: International teams often face unexpected challenges, so you want candidates who are adaptable and can think on their feet
  • Language skills: Depending on the nature of the job, language skills may be essential for successful communication with team members and clients in different countries
  • Experience working in a global team: Candidates who have experience working in a global team are more likely to be successful in this type of environment as they will have real-world experience in doing so

It’s worth noting that if any (or possibly even all) of these skills are a must for your position, you should include them in the job description.

Legal considerations for international recruitment

When recruiting internationally, it’s important to be aware of the legal and regulatory landscape in each country. If you get this wrong, you could find yourself facing complications further down the line.

This is why it’s so important that you work with legal and HR professionals who have expertise in international employment law to ensure compliance with these regulations. They’ll be able to advise you on the correct work permits and visas, as many countries require work permits or visas for foreign workers.

They can also educate you on employment laws and regulations and what you need to be aware of when hiring international candidates. This includes taxation as well, as all companies must be aware of the tax implications of hiring international candidates, both for the company and the candidate.

Cultural differences and how to navigate them

Different cultures have different ways of communicating, working and many will have different expectations of their employer.

One key way to navigate these cultural differences is to be aware of them and to be sensitive to them. This means taking the time to learn about different cultures and their norms and values. It also means being open to different ways of doing things and being willing to adapt to these accordingly.

Another way to tackle this is to establish clear communication channels and expectations. This means ensuring that team members understand the communication channels that’ll be used and checking that they are comfortable using them. It also means setting clear expectations for working styles and meeting deadlines.

Tips for managing and communicating with an international team

Managing and communicating with an international team requires a different approach than managing a local team. To help you get to grips with this, we’ve put together some of our top tips for supporting an international workforce. These include:

  1. Establishing clear communication channels and making sure that everyone is comfortable and happy using these
  2. Setting clear expectations for everything from work norms and deadlines to the best ways to communicate and collaborate
  3. Building strong relationships with individual team members. This includes taking the time to get to know the team and their backgrounds and interests
  4. Providing plenty of opportunities for training and development to ensure that team members are engaged and that they have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed

Keep these four top tips in mind, and youll be better equipped not just to manage your workforce but also to help employees thrive both individually and as part of a team.

Tools and technology to support global collaboration

So far, we’ve spoken a lot about the importance of collaboration, and a study found that three-quarters (75%) of employees agree, rating teamwork and collaboration as being a very important part of their job. This is even more critical for an international team who can’t always see each other face-to-face and who may be working across different time zones.

The same study found that 86% of employees in leadership positions blame a lack of collaboration for many workplace failures. So it’s clear that these tools are a must.

The good news is there is a range of tools and technologies available to support global collaboration as well as recruitment efforts. These include video conferencing tools which can help to facilitate virtual meetings or interviews and collaboration across time zones and locations. There are also project management tools that help to keep teams organized and on track, even when working on complex projects with multiple team members.

Collaboration tools such as shared calendars, document sharing and chat tools facilitate communication and collaboration across distances. And in some cases, language translation tools can help to bridge language barriers and make communication easier between team members who speak different languages.

Although over half (56%) of employers already use online collaboration tools like these to communicate with employees, there’s still more that can be done to ensure that every employee, no matter where they are in the world, has access to the tools they need to work and communicate effectively.

Final thoughts

Building a successful international team requires careful planning and execution, but the benefits to your business can be significant. A global team can bring about diversity, fresh perspectives and access to new markets, which can all help to drive your business forward.

However, in order to tackle the challenges of global hiring and recruiting, you first need to get a strong and clear strategy in place that will help you to understand cultural differences and to adapt to different communication styles and working norms.

By following the best practices weve set out above, as well as focusing on the top skills and qualities that are important in international candidates, you can build a successful team that will continue to thrive and carry your business forward.

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