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July 24, 2015

Building Relationships Onsite in the US

Hurry and catch your flight!
"Why should we send our India-based team to the US when they can sit in India and code?" asked the manager to the room of wide-eyed offshore team members with their new H1-B visas ready to go to the US

"It's because we want you to build relationships. We want you to learn about your customer so we can help them better. You can only learn more about them, and get to know them if you interact with them both in and out of the boardroom, in and out of the office. Talk, interact, eat lunch with them, go to dinner, maybe go site seeing with them on the weekends. Don't just hang out with your other colleagues from India. Otherwise, we may as well bring you back!" 

I couldn't have said it any better myself! I not only agree with this manager's message, but believe it wholeheartedly. While every company and team's dynamics differ, there are many teams and companies that send two or more employees from offshore to onsite at a time. In some cases, are given international assignments at client sites where other Indian colleagues are already placed.  Many times, when there are already groups of Indians onsite, the newcomers feel compelled to spend time only with their Indian colleagues already onsite. While this is understandable, often times this divide makes it harder and harder for the Indians and the local (American) team members, colleagues, clients or stakeholders to get to know each other. Knowing each other must extend outside the boardroom, outside the context of technical and and work-related conversations. Only then, can we break barriers, learn how each other is, and create better relationships. Ironically, doing this can dramatically help business relations as well. 

So, how can we be more inclusive? First, is if we are standing in a group talking, be it in another language or not, change to a common language or a more inclusive conversational topic that everyone can relate to. Use your body language to open the group, make eye contact with the person to allow them into the group.

When we include others, we make them feel good. Remember the last time you felt left out, shy or not sure how to include yourself, and another colleague took the initiative to make you feel good, included or more accepted? How did it make you feel? I am sure you still remember that and it made you feel good! The better we feel about others, the more apt we are to respond to emails, requests or adjust to others requests. These small things helps us to build a relationship, get into the minds of others, which helps us not only professionally, but personally as well. Most of the time, I think these concepts expand across all cultures, it's just the approach to doing it that may differ. 

The videos below showcase the importance of being inclusive, how not being inclusive can impact others, and how we can change ourselves in small ways to include others and make everyone feel good around us! 

Jennifer Kumar helps your India based teams understand diversity, culture differences, culture shock onsite and how to be inclusive in a multicultural team to build better business interactions in the US and with Americans. For more information, contact us.

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.