Creating a high-performing global team.
People often ask us whether we find it difficult to manage a team spread across five offices around the globe. Maybe, but it’s also a crucial part of our success. Being global is a key part of our identity as an organization, and the value we deliver to clients. So it’s worth the effort.
Tivix has been a global operation for five years now, and we’ve learned a lot about how to maintain a high-performing team spread across nine time zones. Here are a few of the things we’ve learned:
We have amazing communication tools. Use them.
I wake up early every morning to read and respond to emails from the entire worldwide team, and we are quick to jump on a video calls together whenever there’s something to discuss. A five minute call can often be more productive than a long email thread. Then all day long we use Slack for real-time communication with each other and we use ScreenHero to review code together. With these tools we’re able to collaborate with a team member in London just as closely as with a team member sitting in the next room. We live in an era of amazing communication tools. Use them.
Social bonds matter.
The fact is that when you know someone only as an email icon or a chat avatar, it’s very easy to get annoyed by them and/or just ignore them. It’s much harder after you’ve actually bonded with them in some meaningful way. So I try to travel to each of our offices twice a year for no reason other than eating and drinking together. Plus every quarter we have teammates from various offices go spend a week working with teammates in one of our other offices. Social bonds matter.
Flights are cheap, time is expensive.
The average client engagement at Tivix is several hundred thousand dollars, and 80% of our costs is payroll. So the price of losing a few days due to confusion is huge. We tell our teammates that if there’s any confusion with a client or with colleagues, just get on a plane and go sit down together. Flights are cheap, time is expensive.
Keep incentives aligned globally.
All of our employees, in each of the countries we operate in, are on the exact same incentive compensation structure. Everybody receives a quarterly bonus based on billable hours, and everyone receives an annual bonus that is a share of the company’s revenue. Everyone is on the exact same formula. I’ve seen other companies try to operate with different local compensation structures and it seldom works well, because a mis-alignment of incentives never creates good collaboration. High-performing teams are all rowing together in the same direction. And that requires having incentives that are well-aligned.
Make time zones a benefit, not a liability.
Europe is nine hours ahead of San Francisco. We can’t change that. So rather than let it be a problem, we focus on making it an advantage. Those of us on the SF team can queue-up tasks here before we go to bed, then we wake up in the morning and those tasks are complete. And our European team members can do the same with us. If someone in another office has a question and it’s 11pm our time, we take the call and help them out. High-performing teams don’t let time zones get in the way of communication.
Here’s the bottom line: everyone wants to be part of a high-performing team. At Tivix we focus on giving our teammates everything they need to achieve that. Because knowing that you are part of a high-performing team filled with really smart people is a pretty great feeling.