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Building Great Teams Despite A Shortage of Tech Talent

The tech shortage has definitely made headlines recently, with some calling it a flat-out myth and others promoting large nationwide initiatives, such as the one announced by President Obama last March. Nevertheless, your demand is likely outweighing the supply, and you’re working to keep the employees you have so your situation doesn’t go from bad to worse.

You’ve probably already used everything from offshoring to consulting firms to freelancers. In this global economy, successful organizations must tap into the global talent market, combining offshore, nearshore and/or onshore employees into a functional and productive team. However, no matter what your employee mix looks like – or even if you’re in the process of reshoring – the onus of creating an environment that accommodates a diverse and geographically dispersed team falls to you. But many companies make the mistake of hiring outsourced workers only with a focus on filling seats without building the company culture needed to retain an innovative and connected team as global workers are added. So what do you do?

Construct Your Culture

It’s easy for an employee six time zones away to feel disconnected with your company, but you have the power to build that relationship. In fact, it’s crucial that you do. Employees who are engaged with the mission and vision of the company, who feel like they have a vested interest in the success of the team, are going to do their best work for you.

Anthony Smith, CEO of Insightly, says a little face time is necessary:

“Once you’ve found the perfect addition to your team, consider inviting that person to spend a week at company headquarters. This will allow your new hire to become acquainted with co-workers, attend in-person training meetings and familiarize herself with business processes. This will help ease your new hire toward the end goal of becoming completely engrained in the team.”

Stock Up Your Toolbox

Obviously, once the in-person visit is over, you need to find ways to stay connected to your global employees—not just to stay abreast of their progress but to keep them engaged with the company culture and the rest of the team. The good news is that the tools and approaches available are plentiful:

  • When the team can connect in real time, use the latest videoconferencing services. Google Hangout and Vidyo – even RealPresence Immersive Studio from Polycom for big groups – are just a few examples that allow you to have regular team meetings, even if the team is scattered geographically. This face-to-face time (both in the room and shining off a computer screen) is not only positive for productivity but also for basic team bonding.
  • Project management tools – everything from Asana to Basecamp to Wrike – enable all employees easy access to project updates, tasks, and relevant documents. They allow the team to easily share project knowledge and also provide a level of transparency that’s essential to keeping the team strong.
  • Try some of the collaboration tools designed for businesses, such as Yammer or Slack. When you can’t meet up in real time, these services allow employees to communicate and collaborate across global time zones.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

The best way to fight the out-of-sight-out-of-mind effect? Communication: clear and frequent. Maybe some employees need a weekly check-in, maybe some need to hear from you every day. As long as you’re touching base often – and setting an expectation of reciprocation – you keep global employees engaged with the team, your company’s strategy and the project’s overall success.

Change Your Mindset

The successful shift to a global work force is not an easy one. You may need to adapt your outlook about your employees, how you get them to be part of your company’s global team, and how you relate to them.

Meghan Biro, HR Tech brand strategist and CEO of TalentCulture, writes:

“If you are a manager who questions the value of virtual employees, talk to a mentor or take a personality inventory. Explore your willingness to tolerate uncertainty and change. Probe to understand where you’re flexible and what your exact limits and expectations are. Get real with yourself first—the rest will fall in line.”

So yes, the tech shortage may be real, but a strategy to manage it is not out of reach. With a focused effort, you can create a company culture that allows all employees – both on-site and off – to be valuable members and contributors to the team—part of the collaborative IT movement that is reshaping the industry.

How has your company adjusted to incorporating global employees? Tweet them to us @EDZ_Systems!