When you’re expanding your business internationally, it’s tempting to add team members who work remotely. You might think this will give you all the benefits of international consulting without making any changes at the home office.
But if you take this route, you’ll miss out on a number of benefits that could push you ahead of your competition. So instead of hiring people who'll work from a different location, use these tips to create a home team that will help your expansion succeed.
Bringing People Together
When my partner and I built the team for our advertising agency, we intentionally made it diverse by recruiting people from different parts of the world. As a Ukrainian immigrant, I understood the problems brands face when reaching different audiences, so my solution was simple: Bring representatives from those audiences into one company at one location. It was one of the most valuable decisions we made. Here's why:
1. It creates a collaborative environment. We work with a melting pot of ideas in a dynamic atmosphere. Having different cultures blending together gives us a creative edge that can’t be replicated by any other means. With employees from countries as diverse as France, India and Israel, our company can more easily see one concept 10 different ways, and that exponentially broadens our range for new ideas.
2. It increases productivity. If we need insight on a cultural nuance or to check verbiage in a different language, we have that information right at our disposal. Time zones aren't an issue, and we don’t have to wait until the next day to get an answer. This increases efficiency and maintains our momentum.
3. It provides you with in-house representation. If you deal with international clients or target customers with a diverse customer base, you need someone in house who can relate to the cultures and ethnicities of the target audience. Having those people in house provides your team with an added layer of knowledge and promotes a more authentic relationship.
Recruiting Culturally Diverse Talent
Finding great employees from a variety of backgrounds requires a little more thought than just posting a job opportunity on your website. Be more intentional to reach a broader spectrum of people. Here are four ways to find the people you need:
1. Take advantage of networking events. There's a lot of great talent out there, but many people don’t know your company even exists. Don’t rely solely on people reaching out to you; instead, seek them out.
2. Include international job sites. It’s great to use online resources to announce new job opportunities. But if you only place job listings on U.S. websites, you’ll only receive U.S. applicants.
3. Reach out to your connections. This includes friends, family, present employees and past co-workers. If you’re looking for specific talents or skills, verbalize it to the people in your network so they can keep an eye out or send recommendations.
4. Build relationships with colleges in your area. Find out where international students study, and see if you can recruit interns. Many excellent employees come from internship programs.
Making Adjustments For A Multicultural Staff
If your office space is shared by an increasing number of people with different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions, your company might need to make some adjustments to ensure that everyone feels valued and supported. Foster a culture that celebrates differences, and don’t tolerate anything less.
Encourage your employees to learn about each other’s backgrounds and ask questions. One of my favorite things about our office is the eating area. You can always find staff members introducing new foods to one another and having lively conversations.
As your diversity grows, keep in mind that people celebrate a wide range of holidays. It’s important to recognize those dates and allow individuals to celebrate as they normally would. Plan events in which your staff can celebrate one another’s cultural holidays or educate your clients on your international roots.
We took this approach when it was time to plan Christmas presents for our clients. Each employee named the most popular candy in his home country. Then we packaged these 12 treats together in “A Taste of Culture” box. It was a huge success with our clients because it authentically showed who we are as a company of individuals.
Just because your customers may be halfway around the world doesn't mean your employees have to be there, too. You can expand internationally right in your own office and enjoy the benefits of having the world come to you.
Yuriy Boykiv is the co-founder and CEO of Gravity Media, a full-service advertising agency that helps brands connect with multicultural and international consumers. He's also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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