Here at MemberClicks we run across all kinds of small staff associations with incredibly unique problems. One of the most common problems, surprisingly, is working with international members, employees, or partners.The common, but often incorrect, outlook is that most small staff associations are run out of someone’s guest bedroom, impact only their small local community, and that’s it. It couldn’t be farther from the truth! Small Staff Associations shape America and many of them are international.
But those international relationships can create some challenges. Here are some problems that are common with international business and some ways to solve them.
1) Time Changes
Continental American business deals with 4 timezones, so business may start at noon instead of 9am some days, but international business can deal with completely opposite times of day, as in noon to midnight, maybe even spanning different days. The best way to combat that is communicate through E-mail when you can, and when you absolutely need to get on a call or video chat, be flexible. Find a time that works for both people, even if it involves getting up a little earlier or eating dinner a little later.
When you are not sitting next to your employees or volunteers it’s hard to be 100% sure they’re doing their jobs. The best you can do in this situation is be sure to employ people you trust and set clear guidelines and expectations. If you are expecting a project to be completed, set up benchmarks to ensure everything is going according to plan, is on schedule, and is progressing in a good direction.
3) Culture norms
The American working culture is different that some other cultures around the world. Standards are slightly different in almost every industry and can impact things from lunch breaks to customer service. Do a little internet research and find out what some of the lapses are. Also just be candid with your international counterparts. If you are in the supervising position, be clear what your expectations are and have an open dialog about what he or she is capable of in their area.
4) Clear communication
Since many association problems begin and end with communication, pay special attention to how that’s handled in your association. Think about how it’s currently done, what works, what doesn’t work, and what your employees, volunteers, and members prefer. That’s a big project in itself, but dealing with folks overseas it’s something that absolutely has to be done.
Some other things to think about when it comes to international business: financial regulations between the two countries in regards to payments both incoming and outgoing (including currency differences) and international regulations in your specific industry.
The good news is that most of this information is available at your fingertips online! It just takes a few minutes here and there to do the research and your international business relationships should be smooth.
To improve your association’s culture both here and abroad, download our free guide to culture!