Managing Cross-Cultural Communication and Collaboration in International Teams


At some point, businesses will have to manage growth prospects. No matter which industry you belong to, expansion is inevitable. That is, if you’re doing things right. 

Part of scaling up is the need for an augmented team. After all, there’s no way to deal with growing pains if you lack human resources. However, sometimes the talent pool from your area might not suit your needs. That is where hiring talents abroad comes in handy.

Benefits of Hiring Internationally

You do not hire your workforce internationally just because you feel like it. You get behind this business trend because of surefire returns, such as the following. 

Deal with a talent shortage

Technologies specific across industries evolve consistently. As such, practices change more often than what might be comfortable for business leaders. In turn, that results in vacant job posts that the local talent pool might find difficult to fill.

That’s when you look elsewhere. There’s no reason to limit your operations geographically if the expertise you require is readily available overseas.

Get competitive

A team with diverse members means you get privy to different ways of thinking. That’s because your human resources—your employees—share no monolithic background. Everyone brings something unique and exciting to the table.

This diversity of thoughts and values can add significant value to your operations. You can expect leveled-up creativity and innovation in all aspects of business operations.  

Increase productivity

Hiring foreign workers equates to round-the-clock operations. That’s because you have staff who are active in multiple time zones.

This strategy is most beneficial if you’re in the e-commerce industry. Your customer relationship management efforts won’t go to waste because of employees who clock out at 6 PM. Instead, you’ll have other representatives working at a different time zone to receive customer queries and whatnot.

As a result, you have fewer frustrated customers that could tarnish your brand’s reputation even with just one negative review. 

Tap emerging markets

Tapping international employees also proves practical if your business aims to explore a new and emerging market overseas.

For instance, if you’re looking to do business in Southeast Asia, include hiring Southeast Asian employees or contractors in your productivity strategy. They would know how to do business in their part of the globe with the best possible results.

Build an international brand

All businesses aspire for growth and expansion. And one of the most visible pointers that your business is growing and expanding is when you take your brand overseas. You may take such a milestone one step at a time.

For instance, you can start having an international presence as an employer. Once you have one foot in the door, you can start going all in by steadily introducing your products to a new and foreign market. 

Challenges of Hiring Internationally

As exciting as it might sound, hiring international workers isn’t all fun and games. With poor execution, you can expect the following roadblocks.


This is the most obvious obstacle to hiring internationally. Whether you’re hiring talent for eventual relocation to your headquarters or remote workers that would require technological support, considerable expenses will factor into the equation.

That’s why you must thoroughly assess this hiring option’s financial viability. The last thing you want to happen is to jump ship halfway through because of unforeseen and exorbitant costs which you already paid for in part. That’s a financial loss you can avoid via careful planning.  


Even if you have adequate financial resources to support your plans of hiring foreign workers, you can expect obstacles to hinder your progress if you lack the expertise.

On top of stiff competition from both local and international organizations, there are also language and cultural barriers to contend with. Here, you can deploy an HR representative on the ground or partner with a local hiring agency. The latter option’s benefits include familiarity with local hiring customs.   


Employment regulations vary from country to country, requiring your familiarity with labor laws and relevant statutes. This factor can complicate your international hiring efforts, especially if you plan to outsource talent from different countries.

However, if you have experts on your side, such as legal counsels specializing in international labor laws, you won’t get in trouble. On the contrary, failure to comply with local employment codes may cause legal repercussions. You might incur fines and penalties that may include cessation of operations, not to mention the bad publicity you’ll get from the incident. 


It’s challenging as it is to inspire loyalty among employees at the grassroots. Then again, you face double that challenge when hiring internationally. That’s because of possible communication and collaboration barriers.

Also, there’s the risk of unmet expectations in terms of training and development. That’s why HR needs to give these systems due attention. Or else, you’ll find yourself doing recruitment and onboarding on a loop, spending and losing money on the same expenses again and again. 

Tips for Collaboration and Communication

Complement your hiring efforts with on-point retention strategies. That way, you don’t incur financial loss from a high turnover rate. The first step to improving retention is ensuring smooth collaboration and communication. Here’s how to do it.

Anticipate workforce needs

If you’re relocating a foreign hire to your business headquarter, you need to help them with all the details of the move. Keep in mind that it’s a major life decision, and your recruit could use all the support they can get. After all, they will most likely deal with considerable culture shock.

Meanwhile, your remote workers will require adequate technical support for them to do their job effectively. Also, they need thorough information on what’s expected of them so they can be on par with their counterparts at the head office. That calls for accessible and easily understandable policies and procedures.

Review policies

Speaking of policies, consider tweaking some if they do not suit your foreign hires to a tee. Remember that there’s a cultural gap to take into account. Policies that might not concern your local hires might make no sense or, worst, be downright offensive to your foreign staff. 

Policy review also proves crucial for compliance, as utmost compliance gives a good impression on your foreign staff. If expats in the company see that you honor local employment laws, they’ll have more reason to stay loyal to your organization. 

Seek help from experts

Do not rely exclusively on the HR team that’s been with you from the beginning. Working with foreign staff has its own unique challenges that might be more suited to an expert.

So, if you think it’s indispensable, hire an HR manager who has significant experience working with diverse staff from multiple locations. You might want to look into culture experts, too, who can bridge the gap between headquarter and satellite offices.

Be patient

As they say, patience is a virtue. That holds even more when working with foreign employees or contractors who speak your language as a second language. There will always be nuances lost in translation. And it would be best if you acknowledged that those are, more often than not, not ill-intentioned. 

Be open-minded

You hired a diverse team that gives you the privilege of various insights. Maximize those insights by staying open-minded. Do not shoot down ideas just because they seem counterintuitive to you. Exhaust possibilities with curiosity. 

Tips for Training and Development

Another crucial aspect of a comprehensive retention policy is training and development. Employees want to feel secure in their partnership with your organization. Let them feel that security by ramping up your efforts for employee growth. 

Proper onboarding

The employee’s journey with your employer brand officially begins with onboarding. As early as this stage, they can start assessing whether they have a future with your company. With that in mind, make sure the organization’s onboarding practices leave no stone unturned to make your new hires feel welcome and at home. 

Provide ongoing training

Ideally, training doesn’t end after onboarding. With every new technology or policy introduced, you must provide supplemental training. That way, no employee is left in the dark. Should they commit mishaps, the accountability falls on their shoulders. Ongoing training also communicates to employees that you care about their growth and development. 

Practice skills testing

It’s not easy to prepare and schedule training sessions. That’s most true if you don’t focus on your employees’ unique needs. For your utmost guidance, conduct skills testing.

Basically, the process will determine which skills your employees excel at or fall behind. You can then tailor-fit training sessions based on the insights you glean from the test. Another upside of this strategy is your organization won’t have to spend on unnecessary training. Train as needed. 

Champion mentorship

Employees appreciate coaching. That is most applicable in team dynamics where the immediate superiors have established a competent and dignified sense of leadership. Your employees would want to hear what the company leaders have to say.

On that note, champion mentorship in your foreign employee management. Do one-on-one sessions on top of group mentorship. These practices will improve team camaraderie.

Any mentorship initiative will also allow you to connect consistently with your staff so that you can identify their concerns before they escalate and become detrimental to the company. 

Wrapping Up

If expansion is now part of your business plan, it’s high time to exhaust all opportunities at your disposal. The goal is to maximize your resources while widening profit margins. One way to achieve that objective is by hiring talents abroad. But before you jump into this strategy, account for the nitty-gritty. 

First and foremost, weigh the benefits and challenges of hiring internationally. Doing so allows you to plan accordingly, especially in terms of recruitment strategies. Meanwhile, supplement a reliable hiring practice with retention efforts that zero in on the culture of collaboration and communication and the implementation of training and development.

Have these prerequisites taken care of, and rest assured that your international team will be a success. 

Article by:
President & Chief Revenue Officer at Global Expansion
President & Chief Revenue Officer at Global Expansion
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