Communication Strategies for International Teams


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As a sales and finance professional, Diane Kaern has an extensive background in multinational business processes and strategic decision-making. In her role as reporting manager for computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard, Diane Kaern implemented and managed reporting procedures that impacted employees worldwide.

When implementing company-wide policies, language and cultural barriers are just a few of the communication challenges faced by multinational corporations. Managers often need to convey complex information to a wide and often globally dispersed team while ensuring all members are on task. There are a few strategies for reducing misunderstandings and improving communication within international companies.

Most US multinationals carry-out their everyday operations in English, but many of the staff are non-native speakers. Native speakers can make written communications more digestible for everyone by avoiding slang or colloquial language and keeping sentences short and direct. Managers and other staff should also encourage two-way communication that empowers international staff to ask for clarification.

Miscommunication can also arise from differences in workplace norms. Project managers working with an international team should communicate expectations, roles, and responsibilities clearly so that all team members know their duties and the best course of action in the case of an issue. For example, American companies may need to emphasize the importance of the chain of command for team members from business cultures with flatter hierarchies.


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