The Human Element: Building Strong Relationships in Offshore Teams
offshore Strategy

The Human Element: Building Strong Relationships in Offshore Teams

By Priyobroto June 03, 2024 - 14 views

Offshore software development or offshore IT services have become increasingly viable for several businesses who are seeking to lower costs while accessing the best global talent simultaneously. According to reports by Statista, the global offshore software development market is anticipated to reach a value of $88.9 billion by the year 2027, posting CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 7.9% from 2020 to 2027 along the way.

However, proper offshore workforce management is the need of the hour and that is where building stronger relationships becomes a necessity for project managers and other leaders. Here are some insights on harnessing the human element towards relationship building across offshore outsourcing teams.

Offshore Project Management and Relationship Building – Vital Tips

Here are some tips that will help you ace offshore workforce management, while building relationships that are strong and fulfilling.

  • Assimilating individuals into teamwork or team culture- With contemporary offshore hiring trends aligning more towards remote software developers, the need of the hour is assimilating all these skilled professionals into a strong team. The guiding perspective should be based on perceiving each other as value additions to the project. Starting a trend of mutual respect and helping each developer find a rightful place in the team and operation is a must to build what we call team culture.
  • Proper Communication and Understanding- Communicating effectively is the lifeblood of any successful offshore software development project. Relationship-building necessitates a deeper understanding of project requirements, goals, and expectations of clients. Whenever teams understand the needs of the project, each other’s working patterns, strengths and weaknesses, and preferences, they automatically work better. You’ll find that such teams can communicate better and anticipate possible challenges in advance.
  • Scaling up Confidence and Trust- Trust is the foundation of any fulfilling relationship as far as offshore outsourcing is concerned. It is not just linked to technical skills and competencies, but also personal equations and relationships. As a manager, you should understand and know your team members well, while having and demonstrating your confidence and trust in their abilities and sense of commitment to the project. Trust will naturally lower micromanagement while equipping teams to take more ownership of what they do.
  • Cultural Understanding- Offshore IT services teams often have members from diverse social and cultural backgrounds. Relationship-building will naturally involve respect and appreciation for these socio-cultural differences and preferences. Cultural understanding and awareness will build an environment that is more inclusive, while promoting higher unity across global teams.
  • An Atmosphere of Motivation- As a leader, it is up to you to build an atmosphere of motivation across teams. Strong personal relationships enhance overall cohesion among the team. This is because team members will be more likely to focus on supporting each other in such cases, while also achieving project objectives more smoothly in turn.

What Else Can You Focus On for Relationship Building?

Now that you have an idea of the bigger picture, i.e. the philosophies that you have to put in place for better intra-team relationships, here’s looking at some of the action-oriented steps that you can take in this regard.

  • Face-to-face engagement- From virtual calls to periodic onsite visits and team meets, make sure you prioritize strategic face-to-face interactions to add a human element to professional relationships.
  • Clear channels of communication- To enable transparent communication across the team, lay down the communication protocols and channels clearly. Opt for regular team meetings, video conferences, status updates, and insight/feedback-sharing sessions. You can daily sessions of 15 minutes to get everyone on the same page before starting work, weekly meetings to summarize the outcomes of the week and planning the upcoming week’s targets, and monthly meet-ups for discussing outcomes and scheduling upcoming tasks and projects. These monthly meetings will also be helpful in discussing client feedback and solutions for improvement.
  • Cross-cultural training- Set up a cross-cultural training initiative to help team members understand others’ cultural backgrounds and preferences, thereby nipping possible conflicts in the bud.
  • Recognize milestones/accomplishments- Both professional and personal milestones/achievements of team members should be celebrated, right from cultural/festival holidays to birthdays/anniversaries, and project milestones. These activities help strengthen bonds among offshore software development teams.
  • Deepen personal bonds- Invest time in knowing more about the lives of your team members. Don’t just talk about work; also engage in interactions regarding their interests outside the professional ambit. Show them that you are genuinely interested in their happiness and wellbeing.
  • Reinforce team members positively- Always provide recognition and feedback regularly for any job that is executed well. Whenever there is regular positive feedback and recognition for each project step/milestone, members will be motivated to strive towards accomplishing bigger targets and will be more committed towards the job at hand.
  • Enforcing the principle of civility– Reports indicate an all-time peak for workplace incivility. For instance, the number of people witnessing incivility at work increased to 76% by 2022 from 62% in 2016, 55% in 2011, and 25% in 1998 as per reports (Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace by Christine Porath). Make sure issues related to incivility do not go unresolved among the team, since it may lead to motivation gaps, derailed productivity, and higher absenteeism in many cases. Offshore software development teams should have clearly-defined templates pertaining to expected behavior codes (no comments/animosity based on race, color, origin, religion, sex, nationality, etc.). Also build a more tolerant atmosphere while punishing uncivil behavior, irrespective of the individual’s designation.

Hierarchy of Needs and Why It Matters

While following these tips will help you build stronger relationships among offshore teams, you should also lay emphasis on something called the hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s theory shows various levels in a pyramidal framework, with two overall needs, namely Growth Needs and Deficient Needs. Yet, motivation does not work in the same manner for everyone, especially across various levels of the organization. A remote senior software engineer with 10 years of experience may not be motivated in the same way as a junior developer just 1-2 years of experience, for instance.

Maslow says that employees should first try to achieve their deficient needs before attempting to fulfill their growth needs. For example, you should first try to help your team members meet deficient needs like proper working hours, inclusivity, respect, tolerance, and job security. Thereafter, bring in measures to address their growth needs before their motivation levels start declining. These include more learning and skill-development opportunities, promotions, and compensation.

Signing Off

Remember that effective leadership is a lot about strong relationship-building and communication. It can be challenging to manage remote offshore software development teams, especially when you consider relationship-building with developers across multiple locations or even time zones. Yet, proper communication is always helpful in bridging gaps and creating a space for transparency and openness in dialogue, expectations, and collaborations.

As the ex-CEO at Cisco, John Chambers, once stated, offshoring was a vital strategy for organizations who wanted to stay more competitive in today’s global economy, helping them leverage a worldwide pool of highly skilled talent and deliver high-quality software at a lower cost. Yet, to make it all work and achieve project end-goals, committed and productive teams are a must. That requires stronger relationships and robust leadership in turn. Keep these strategies in mind to get the best out of your team.

Let the defining principles be- all for one and one for all!

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