Friday, September 23, 2005

People: Team Identity

In the beginning of 2005 one of my managers took charge of a professional services team in 2 cities in India. We did that because we wanted to expand our team there and take advantage of the talent that was available in that team.

We decided to practice what we preach and hired local managers for both the locations. The integration was successful and the team is now working as a well oiled machine. One the managers in Hyderabad is JP. During a recent team meeting he mentioned that the team considers the association with the US team as a valuable thing. Our team has an Identity that plays an important role in our collaboration.

We have a single email group alias and information is shared frequently. Our meetings and training programs are conducted during hours that are convenient for most locations using the tools that I have talked about in this Journal. We always write the minutes of our meetings and share them using our collaboration site so that all of us can read, edit and update the information. Those team members who do not participate benefit from these detailed minutes.

We are very happy with the investment we have made in creating and maintaining this team identity. Our team members from the India locations have started working with clients directly. It is now considered normal for our India team members to take on consulting assignments with US clients.

I believe that team identities can play an important role in enabling collaboration between distributed teams. Despite being distributed across the US, India and Europe, our team identifies itself as a single entity. We have common values and traits and we go to a great extend to share that with new hires and junior team members. JP is the knowledge manager for the team and is in charge of managing the training of new team members no matter where they are hired. One of our senior consultants designs and runs the training.

There is a good article from Harvard Business Review on this if you are interested in reading more about this.
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