We are an agency with collaboration built into our core values, and with this we have the responsibility to use our network to its full potential to produce the best possible results for clients and new business prospects. Often the solution to a local challenge, particularly those that are resource driven, can be a quick phone call or email to another office away.
As our Senior Digital Program Manager and a self-proclaimed global citizen, I’m most interested in finding opportunities to learn about and co-create client solutions with colleagues around the world. Why?
Because I know it leads to better work results that reflect a cross-functional diverse workforce with multiple fluencies and cultural nuance. Plus, it makes the work more fun.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City and work with our largest combined analytics, creative and digital team as part of the Discovery & Development program and through this exposure gleaned 5 simple insights that can help anyone looking to develop lasting cross-office relationships and collaborate effectively.
- Familiarize yourself with what your colleagues are up to. It sounds a bit cliché, but one of the best tools for collaborating is actually getting to know people’s skills, ticks, work styles, and passions. Apply for our Discovery & Development program (or similar program at your company), travel far and absorb everything. Going on holiday? Chances are you’re going somewhere our agency has representation because we have 100 offices around the world. Coordinate an office visit with a local Managing Director and use this invaluable opportunity to informally meet the team, share about yourself, and ask questions. By proactively developing cross-office relationships you’ll learn about areas of opportunity, local culture, and help to close distance, which will make cross-office opportunities come naturally. Once connected, keep the relationship up on tools like Slack or Skype Business chat. You’ll be surprised by the perspective you gain by working with someone in a different geography and you might even gain a friend!
- Organizational tools and nomenclature should be universal. By developing consistencies in how to catalog work, use a shared filing system, and control document versions, we can easily collaborate on projects with colleagues anywhere – whether they are working remotely or in another office, this will streamline the process for finding and updating project files as needed. Organization is always key, and it’s especially crucial on cross-office projects where you don’t have the benefit of tapping someone on the shoulder for a real time response.
- Bring in market representation. Are you on an account with a regional need that is outside of your geography? Tap into the power of our global network to co-create staffing solutions to address the need. Whether it’s a one-time project or a long-term need, this is an opportunity to bring in a regional expert and use the opportunity to learn about another market, develop communication skills, and break down language or cultural barriers. Start with engaging a Managing Director or corporate executive team member about a new challenge, project, ideation session, research or planning assignment that would benefit from fresh perspective. Request to be connected to a colleague(s) outside of your office to solve the brief. And let the fun begin.
- Hop on a video call, Whatsapp or DM. If you’re working on projects across multiple offices chances are you haven’t met your colleagues in person. Face-to-face contact can go a long way, even if it’s virtual. And as marketing professionals we can appreciate the importance of connecting with people where they are. In the case of millennials, which will soon make up majority of the workforce, that’s social media. In fact millennials believe in social tools so much that 40% of them said they would pay for social collaboration tools to help with productivity ⁱ. So turn that conference call into a Google hangout, Skype video chat or Webex, send a Whatsapp audio note or DM – creating these social touchpoints can bring you closer and create better outcomes
- Get out of your silo or comfort zone and into reality. The truth is without collaboration we are unable to effect real change – professionally or elsewhere. Real change is driven by collectivity and shared goals. Break down the barriers of comfort that keep you from collaborating, whether it’s account/team/regional specific. In a professional setting, this can start with aligning your tasks to organizational goals and tracking them throughout the year, using performance review tools to facilitate this process.