A Research Paper By Jana Glezova, Expatriate Coach, CZECH REPUBLIC
How Can Coaching Methods Be Used to Evaluate Performance in an International Team?
The whole world is changing faster and with that also working space. It started to be quite usual to attend international school with classmates from all around the world, same as to be part of an international team at work. In spite of that, a completely new twist in all of our lives affected us in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic appeared. People had to learn how not only to be able to order grocery delivery online, and clothes through online shopping platforms but also how to fully work from home. Henceforward the whole situation in the work environment changed and terms like hybrid or remote working started to be standard. People who work on hybrid bases are supposed to come to the office a few times a week, even though they stay mostly home and come to the office only when specifically required. Remote on the other hand means that employees are allowed to work fully from a different place but the central office building. What does it mean exactly? It means that companies are, after the COVID-19 situation, more open to hiring people remote not only from the country where the headquarter is but also from anywhere in the world. And this is where it’s taking us to the thoughts of “how does it work in such international remote teams”? Working in an international team was never really easy due to the fact that employees have to be more adaptable and adjustable on both sides. Personally, I have worked and studied in international surroundings for the past couple of years and it was always something I extremely enjoyed. On the other hand, I’ve also faced some challenges such as a different attitude toward deadlines or time management. Lately, the situation also changed in a way that people not only work in international teams but they work remotely in international teams. People don’t really have to adjust to the country they would have moved to or the workspace they would be sharing with others.
The core contribution of this research is to fill the gap in theory if coaching methods can support international teams to evaluate performance. Also, as a coach who focuses on working with Expatriates, it’s important to observe and understand if employees actually enjoy working in such international teams and if they find it effective. During the research, the key problem was the lack of literature that could have been used to support this research paper. In spite of the fact that many authors focus on team/employee evaluation and performance using coaching methods, literature was not found right in connection with international team evaluation using coaching methods yet. Based on this finding and to fill the gap in the research, a survey was sent to people who work in international teams.
International Team Data Collection and Analysis
When sending out the survey I was targeting a sample of 22 participants. The questionnaire was distributed through social media platforms as some people were contacted directly. The most convenient method for sending an online survey was snowball sampling where participants engage other people. Only people working in the international team were asked to participate in filling out this questionnaire.
The first part of the questionnaire was the demographic section, where participants were asked about their age, nationality, and how many years they are working in an international team.
Graph 1 – Age Group
As can be seen on the chart, most of the people responding were mostly in the age range of 25-34 years old. Following open questions about participants’ nationality, most responses were from The Czech Republic, Germany, and The United States of America. When asked how long they work for an international team the average answer was in between 5 to 10 years.
Graph 2 – Type of Employment
Looking at graph 2, we see the type of employment is equal for both on-site and hybrid. This proves that the type of employment has changed in a way that people come to work on a daily basis as they work from home and go to the office just when required (usually twice a week). The other two questions in the survey were related to the question of whether people are satisfied working in international teams and whether they chose it. In both cases, the answer was 100% yes. It confirms that people like to work in international teams and even choose it voluntarily.
Graph 3 – Liking & Choosing Working in International Team
Furthermore, a question where the interviewers were asked if they find working in an international team effectively, and if so, an open question followed with a request for clarification. Interestingly everyone agreed that working in international teams is effective. Now some of the key factors will be presented as opinions on why people find it effective:
|Different cultures have different points of view and this is very helpful when solving problems. Also due to different time zones, we are able to support our customers 24/7.|
|Everyone brings their own perspectives and way of finishing tasks. We can learn so much from each other.|
|Yes, but sometimes the language barriers might slow the progress of the project|
|Not limiting the team to national language speaking people enable to acquire of people with exact skills which will perfectly fit the position therefore the cooperation is smoother and more effective.|
|I embrace diversity, in International teams the differences in cultures, and experiences enrich the team dynamics and execution|
|Meeting with different cultures and mindsets brings variety, creative solutions, and unique methods of problem-solving|
|The vast variety of perspectives helps the efficiency of the team.|
|New ideas can be developed. It is interesting to hear other ideas, stories, and perspectives.|
|We have a diverse range of past experiences and ideologies. It allows for circulation and exploration of a wider range of opinions.|
After all, it is evident that people mostly find the effectiveness of working in an international team because it brings a vast variety of perspectives.
Question if COVID – 19 changed the international working experience, 40% of respondents answered yes and 60% answered no. Those who answered “yes” also explained how it changed their experience. The most common answers were that due to COVID – 19 there are/were business trips not allowed therefore these meetings were done remotely. Also, employees of international teams mentioned that they lost a lot of international colleagues and now have more local colleagues.
Graph 4 – Peoples’ Experience With Coaching/Team Coaching
One of the last questions is whether people have experience with coaching in a team or as individuals; 55% of respondents answered that they haven’t yet, but they would like to try it and 30% of interviewed individuals have already tried a coaching session in some matter.
Below is a table presenting peoples’ explanations of how they think coaching can evaluate performance in international team:
|Sometimes I can see a different mentality and work attitude among people in the team and from my perspective the coach would be able to 1) “put people on speed” from a team lead perspective, 2) on the other hand encourage individual engagement from the perspective of more junior members. Also, group coaching sessions can raise awareness of members of the team which would impact future collaboration in a positive way.|
|It can help individuals perform better, increase their engagement and help them feel more confident.|
|Once a person is asked the right question and is brought to self-reflection he can more easily find the proper way for his team to function, which as a result brings high performance.|
|Coaching can help evaluate and improve most teams. I don’t believe an international team should be any different.|
|It can help prepare individuals to join a team and fit a team. This is especially the case for expatriates who move to another country/region.|
|It can support understanding different cultures in the working space which would later ease the working in an international team.|
|Frequent coaching can find the weak spots in the team, which can be further improved on or developed.|
|Coaching can provide an in-depth perspective, unveil unconscious dynamics, and leverage the potential of individuals in the team and as a team.|
|It could be beneficial to have an industry-specific guide to assist.|
After completing the survey and comparing the answers, I came to the conclusion that people mostly like to work in international teams and even choose it. It was also found that the majority of respondents believe that coaching can support the team to evaluate the performance.
Coaching Methods Used in International Team to Evaluate Performance
Before someone decides to come to a foreign country for work, they usually do some research on the country itself or the company that provides the training. Unfortunately, the focus isn’t usually on preparing “local” employees to work with new foreign colleagues. From my own experience working in a team where there are mostly local employees and only a few international, I can sometimes feel the tension. International colleagues usually spend lunch breaks together unfortunately the locals are also separated. And it’s not only this, the domestic employees always support each other much more and it decreases our international employees’ willingness to improve or to participate in some cases. I believe that based on my own experience it doesn’t have to be everywhere the same. If my mentioned team would have a coach who would talk to both sides, and make us more understand our feelings and differences so we can adjust to each other, life in this work would be much easier. After all, I still love to work in this environment and I’m of the opinion that a coach’s support would evaluate our performance in all possible ways.
One of the key things in a workplace is employee wellbeing. If an employee feels well in the environment he/she is working, the performance is more effective.
Regular coaching can help to improve self-confidence and develop mechanisms to cope with everyday difficulties. In the case of coaching international teams, I would recommend the “rounding method”. This method makes the coach regularly go through the various departments of the company and collects data based on coaching the individuals. These data then show satisfaction or dissatisfaction in some areas, which reflects the performance. This method can effectively determine the reason for inefficient work. Furthermore, the problem can be worked on within the coaching session thus the performance increases again thanks to the individual’s understanding of themselves and the environment in which they work.
A study in Indonesia showed that coaching employees help them to be more committed to work. As a result, the company creates much more value. A loyal employee who believes in what he/she does is much more effective than the one who does it only for financial reasons. However, coaching takes place in absolute confidentiality, where employers aren’t given information about what anyone said. The employer/manager gets the overall processed data. That information can then be used to evaluate working conditions so that employees work more efficiently. The study also confirms that regular coaching in companies has a positive impact on leadership and its stability.
Me, while coaching international individuals I mostly use the “just talk” model that I’ve created. When using the model I encourage my clients to “just talk” about anything while ensuring them absolute confidentiality. The ability to talk to someone about problems or issues is not as easy as it seems. The “just talk” model consists of several parts that I follow in the coaching process; (J-(non)judgment, U-understanding, S-sensitivity, T-trust, A-accountability, L-listening, K-knowledge).
According to Brennan, D., & Hellbom, K. (2016) it is also very important to observe the behavior of employees from a distance and to notice their behavior while working. It is necessary to mention that there are clear changes in opinion when coaching takes place individually compared to group coaching, where people are more careful about what they say in front of their colleagues. Furthermore, this study states that employees who regularly attend coaching sessions are more positive and this has also a positive effect on their approach to work and team compliance.
It is also important to mention the significant difference between coaching the individual and the team as a whole. In the case of a whole team, coaching focuses more on the motivation and goals of the team. However, coaching individual employees focuses on motivating individual goals that were set. Every company that includes regular coaching in the company’s daily routine will determine whether it is targeting more the team’s well-being or individual.
The study explained that people who are more introverted or reserved prefer one-on-one coaching. The study even points to the fact that group coaching for such people can be uncomfortable and completely take them out of their comfort zone. In such cases the coaching is ineffective and it’s necessary to solve it differently. It also illustrates that people have become more used to dealing with other people online. This statement is also the reason why some more shy people prefer coaching online. There is a screen between the client and the coach, some people feel protected and talk easier about their problems, issues, or goals (Jackson, and Bourne, D.J., 2020).
Companies With an International Team of More Than Three Nationalities Should Consider Coaching the “Rounding Method.”
While working on this research I wanted to find out how to evaluate performance in an international team using coaching methods. It was found out that employees working in international teams would be eager to try coaching but mostly they haven’t had a chance yet. Based on the research that has been done, I would recommend coaching the “rounding method” to companies that have an international team of more than 3 different nationalities. For individual employees or less diverse teams, I would suggest in-person or online coaching sessions. However, observational coaching can be a valuable addition to analyzing the employee’s behavior in the workplace.
Unfortunately, only very few companies have coaches to help improve the evaluation of their employees’ work yet. I hope within the time this will change for both employees and employers and it will be improving the company over the long term.
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