Unlocking Successful Integration: How to Train Offshore Teams to Thrive in Your Business Culture

business culture

Hiring offshore software developers can be a smart move for tech companies seeking to stay competitive in today’s global economy. It’s a great way to expand the talent pool and reduce overall development costs.   However, without the right processes, integrating offshore employees into your corporate culture can be as prickly as a porcupine, particularly when working across different languages and time zones.

For this article, I investigated dozens of global tech companies to uncover their cross-cultural challenges and solutions, and I will share what I learned. Plus, I will reveal TurnKey’s 7-step process that ensures seamless integration of offshore employees with existing teams and corporate culture.  I’m confident that with our expert guidance, you will be able to effectively bridge cultural gaps and have your offshore software developers making a meaningful contribution and thriving in your unique company culture. Before we get there, let’s look at some of the root causes of poor integration of offshore teams.

Table of Contents

Mistakes Tech Companies Usually Make When Integrating Offshore Software Developers Into the Team

As I investigated the challenges of cultural integration of offshore employees, I was surprised when I found that many startups’ attempts at integration actually fail.  These seem to be the deadliest five mistakes that are typically made when integrating offshore software developers:

  • Poor communication: Ineffective communication is a prevalent mistake made by those trying to integrate offshore developers. The time differences and language barriers can make it challenging to provide clear instructions and feedback, leading to confusion and mistakes.
  • Neglecting cultural differences: Neglecting to understand cultural differences can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings and breakdowns in effective collaboration between the offshore and in-house teams.
  • Inadequate training: Insufficient or incomplete training for offshore developers can result in slow communication and misunderstandings.
  • Lack of team bonding: Building a productive and cohesive team requires investing time and effort in team bonding activities. Failing to create an inclusive and supportive environment for all team members, regardless of location, can result in an unproductive and unmotivated team.
  • Limited oversight: Without proper oversight and checks, the offshore development team may stray from the initial project goals.
In the age of globalization, effective cross-cultural communication is a must regardless of whether you are in an IC role, leading a team, or running an organization.
Padmasree Warriorformer CTO of Cisco

The Cross-Cultural Challenges of Offshoring Software Developers

Many tech companies turn to offshoring software development as a means of reducing costs and accessing top global talent. However, these benefits come with unique challenges, the most significant of which is the cultural divide. From my research, it really boils down to these three barriers that leave startups feeling like they are staring the Continental Divide in the face when trying to integrate offshoring software developers:

  • Communication: Communication challenges in offshore software development projects are often the most significant barrier to successful outcomes. Remote team members may face language barriers, use communication tools differently, or have different communication styles, which can lead to misunderstandings and delays.
  • Work style differences: Different cultures have different work styles and approaches to tasks. This difference in work styles can lead to issues when it comes to delegation, the perception of being micromanaged, teamwork, and deadlines. Offshore team members may not be familiar with the onshore work practices that are critical to successful outcomes.
  • Cultural integration: Differences in cultural values, norms, and practices can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and conflicts between offshore and onshore software developers. Cultural integration is crucial in ensuring team members work together effectively and cohesively towards agreed-upon goals.

Why Cultural Integration Is Important For Offshore Employees

When your team is all from the same geographic location, everyone is running the same playbook.  There is a shared understanding of the cultural norms and how to interact in that society.   However, even though your new offshore developer may code in the same stack as your in-house developers, their playbook will be unique.

 And that’s where cultural integration comes in, it helps everyone expand their playbooks to include the essence of the other culture, fusing them into a high-performing team.

This is why cross-cultural training is essential for teams that include offshore employees because it equips everyone with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand cultural differences and work effectively in a global environment. Cross-cultural training can lay a solid foundation and help the team develop these 4 highly effective qualities:

  1. Effective Communication: Communication is critical when working with remote employees, as it can be challenging to convey thoughts, ideas, and information clearly across different cultures and languages. Cross-cultural training helps offshore employees understand and develop effective communication strategies, promoting open dialogue and transparency.
  2. Reduction of Intercultural Miscommunications: Misunderstandings and “lost in translation” issues caused by cultural differences can lead to costly errors and damage relationships. Insight into cultural nuances, ensure your offshore developers understand the expectations and working styles of colleagues in different cultures.
  3. Building Trust and Relationships: Offshore employees left to figure it out independently may feel isolated and have difficulty forming relationships with their in-house team, creating a lack of trust and failed assignments. Cross-cultural training helps to build trust and more meaningful relationships, promoting collaboration and ultimately leading to greater success.
  4. Increased Flexibility and Adaptability: Learning to be more flexible and adaptable when working with different cultures is crucial when managing projects or resolving conflicts with team members from different cultural backgrounds.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it.   Next, we will examine how the experts, including some giant global players, feel about cross-cultural training.

stats

These statistics indicate that cross-cultural training is crucial for offshoring employees and can lead to better performance, employee satisfaction, and reduced costs due to misunderstandings. By providing cross-cultural training, companies can improve performance and better equip their employees to work in a global environment and develop intercultural skills.

We Help Startups Perfectly Integrate Offshore Developers Into Their Team.

How Tech Legends Successfully Conduct Cross-Cultural Training

training examples

Offshoring is a popular strategy in today’s tech scene, and successful startups like Alibaba, HubSpot, Shopify, and TurnKey client, Headspace, have significant offshore teams.

These famous startups have been crushing it with cross-cultural training for their offshore employees by investing in programs to integrate them seamlessly with the in-house team to reach peak performance levels.

Alibaba

Alibaba, the Chinese multinational conglomerate, has a vast offshore team spread across the globe. Alibaba conducts cross-cultural training through cultural immersion programs, language training, cultural awareness workshops, and online courses. Employees who have participated in these programs report a 90% increase in their ability to work effectively across cultures, a 65% increase in their ability to communicate effectively with cross-cultural partners, a 75% increase in their cross-cultural awareness, and a 50% increase in their ability to work effectively with cross-cultural partners. These training programs have helped Alibaba expand its business globally and build positive relationships with partners from diverse backgrounds.

HubSpot

This American-based software company conducts cross-cultural training through a variety of channels including online resources, classroom-style training, and global immersion trips. Employees who have participated in these programs report a 95% satisfaction rate, and the company has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. Additionally, Hubspot has implemented language learning programs, cross-cultural mentorship initiatives, and unconscious bias training to promote cultural awareness and foster an inclusive work environment.

Shopify

This Canadian-based e-commerce company is known for investing in cross-cultural training for its offshore workforce, fostering an inclusive, supportive work environment. The company provides cultural immersion training, team-building activities, and simulation exercises to help its offshore employees integrate better into its overall culture. The result of these efforts is a high-performing team that delivers quality work.

TurnKey’s YourShore model allows us to easily integrate developers directly into our organization so that they are truly my team. I honestly forget most of the time that they aren’t working in the same building as me.
Anna AlisovaGeneral Manager at R1

How to Train Offshore Teams to Integrate Into Your Corporate Culture

At TurnKey, we understand the significance of cultural integration and strive to create it for our clients.

  • One of the first things that we do is identify the key cultural differences between the offshore employees and the startup’s in-house team. This is done in order to develop a customized approach to overcome these differences, reducing confusion, misinterpretation, and cultural bias.
  • We also establish clear and open channels of communication between the offshore team members and the startup’s home office. This includes regular check-ins, progress reports, and status updates, as well as the use of video conferencing and other communication tools to keep everyone on the same page.
  • Another strategy that TurnKey uses to overcome cross-cultural differences is to establish clear expectations and guidelines for offshore team members. This includes orientation sessions that cover the cultural nuances of the in-house team, as well as the procedures that must be followed when working with the client.
  • Finally, TurnKey provides ongoing training and support to offshore team members, helping them to navigate the challenges of working in a cross-cultural environment. This includes training on cultural awareness and sensitivity, communication skills, and other key areas that can help to ensure success in a cross-cultural work environment.

 As creating a cross-cultural training program for offshore development teams is essential to ensure successful global collaboration, here is TurnKey’s step-by-step guide on how to create the best cross-cultural training program for offshore development teams.

TurnKey’s 7-Step Cross-Culture Training Process

7-step training

Step #1 Define your objectives

Start by defining your training program’s objectives. What outcomes do you want to achieve? What skills should employees learn? What should be your training format and language?

Step #2 Identify the cultural differences

Identify the cultural differences between the onshore and offshore development teams. Research the cultural values, beliefs, and communication styles of each team to better understand their cultural norms.

Step #3 Develop a curriculum

Based on your objectives and research findings, create a training curriculum. The curriculum should address issues such as language barriers, communication styles, management structures, and work ethics.

Step #4 Incorporate cultural activities

Incorporate cultural activities into your curriculum that promote teamwork, collaboration, and integration. Activities could include group games, cultural classes, and team-building exercises that can improve collaboration and understanding between the two teams.

Step #5 Use case studies

Include real-life case studies that illustrate the challenges that arise when working with remote team cultures. Case studies will help participants understand how to navigate cultural differences in their day-to-day work.

Step #6 Provide feedback

Provide regular feedback to assess the effectiveness of your training program. Employee feedback will help you understand what training elements worked well and where your team needs further support.

Step #7 Adapt and improve

Whenever you receive team feedback, evaluate and make the necessary adjustments and improvements to your training program. Adapting the program over time will help ensure that it remains effective and relevant.

Creating a cross-cultural training program for offshore development teams requires careful attention to detail and should be done in collaboration with both teams. By implementing these seven steps, you can develop the best cross-cultural training program for your offshore development teams that will help them build trust, adapt quickly to new cultures, and work effectively in a global environment. 

You will be nearing the integration finish line after completing these steps.   But a final push to evaluate “how well” is required.

Struggling to Onboarding Offshore Employees Into Your In-House Team’s Culture? Rest Easy, TurnKey Will Do It For You.

Key Metrics to Measure Your Company Culture

Company culture is an essential part of any startup, as it can give your company a competitive edge and attract top talent. However, measuring company culture can be challenging, as it is often intangible and difficult to quantify. However, I’ve got your back with this list of key metrics to get you started  measuring your company culture:

  1. Employee engagement: Engaged employees are more productive, motivated, and committed to their work. Measuring employee engagement can provide insights into how connected your employees feel to the company’s mission, values, and goals.
  2. Employee satisfaction: A satisfied workforce is more likely to stay with your company, leading to lower turnover rates and higher productivity. Measuring employee satisfaction can involve conducting surveys or analyzing feedback from employee reviews.
  3. Diversity and inclusion: A diverse and inclusive workplace can lead to better decision-making, increased innovation, and improved employee morale. Measuring diversity and inclusion can involve tracking the representation of different groups within the workforce and assessing the company’s efforts to promote an inclusive environment.
  4. Performance metrics: Performance metrics such as revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and employee retention can provide insights into how well the company’s culture is supporting its business goals.
  5. Leadership effectiveness: Effective leadership is critical to creating a positive company culture. Measuring leadership effectiveness can involve assessing the quality of communication, decision-making, and support provided by managers and executives.
  6. Learning and development: A culture that promotes learning and development can help employees grow and achieve their career goals. Measuring the effectiveness of learning and development programs can involve tracking employee participation rates, feedback, and career progression.
  7. Social responsibility: A company’s social responsibility efforts can have a significant impact on its culture and reputation. Measuring social responsibility can involve tracking the company’s environmental impact, charitable contributions, and community involvement.

Measuring these key metrics can provide insights into how well your company culture is supporting your corporate goals and values. By regularly monitoring these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and make changes that will help your company thrive.

Here’s a little secret, I’ve kept the best knowledge nugget to last for all you integration keeners who kept the coffee flowing and stayed with me to this point in the post. By following the steps I outlined in this article, startups can begin the process of laying the foundation for a strong and collaborative team, regardless of geographical location.

However, if you want to immediately help your offshore team members to integrate, grow and maintain momentum so they can make valuable contributions to your projects, partner with the leading provider of unique offshoring solutions that lives and breathes cultural integration. TurnKey is the accelerated way to unlock the full potential of your offshore team, reap the benefits of a global workforce, and achieve long-term success.

How important is cross-culture training for offshore developers?

Cross-Culture Training is essential when it comes to integrating offshore employees into a company's business culture. It helps establish a common understanding of expectations, goals, and company culture, which ultimately helps promote a strong and unified team.

What are some best practices for providing cross-cultural training to offshore employees?

Best practices for providing cross-culture training to offshore employees may include developing an onboarding plan that integrates them into the company culture, providing frequent check-ins and clear expectations, and open communication channels. Additionally, offering virtual training and support can help offshore employees access the necessary resources they need to familiarize themselves with their roles and responsibilities.

How long should onboarding training last for offshore employees?

The length of onboarding training for offshore employees may vary depending on the complexity of the job, the employee's experience, and the company culture. However, typically the onboarding process should be thorough and provide all necessary resources for the employee to feel comfortable and establish themselves within the company. Ongoing training and support should also be considered to help offshore employees continually improve and stay updated with the latest tech changes.

June 1, 2023

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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