Managing global teams is hard. You are dealing with possibly hundreds or even thousands of team members located in dozens of countries across the globe, sitting in different time zones, speaking different languages, and coming from different cultures. How do you get such diverse groups of contributors to come together and form a truly cohesive global team?
One method that Moravia promotes is holding regular Linguistic Partner Summits, inviting translators, project managers, engineers, and even clients to take part in a series of presentations and discussions. Their sole purpose is unifying everybody towards the common goal of working together to create an excellent localized product for our client’s end-users. Moravia has been doing this for years and finds that this is effective for multiple reasons.
Good beer shortens the supply chain
All too often in localization the translators are far removed from the end client. There are of course methods used by translators to make sure that they are well informed about the client they are working for and any products they are translating, but this is like the difference between reading an autobiography or talking with the author.
Partner Summits are one of the rare times where translators will have the opportunity to sit down across a table from their end client and really exchange information.
Gives the translators a voice
Following the above, this forum really gives the translators a voice that perhaps they have never had in the engagement before. In their everyday work, translators may never even know who the end client is if they are working with an MLV.
It is sometimes intimidating for them to question processes from the hand that feeds them, but when they’ve just got back from the bar two hours ago and now it is time to wake up and participate in a discussion panel on QA workflow best practices, it improves the comfort level.
Gives everybody the opportunity to invest in the project
Although I am familiar with very successful “virtual summits” that are held online, I am a firm believer that a Partner Summit should be in person in an offsite location. Let’s be honest… If it is being held onsite, then you are faced with the constant distraction of everyday work. If it is taking place in a virtual conference room, half of your audience is playing minesweeper. Better to ship everybody out of town (or at least out of the office) to a venue that will facilitate their goals.
This not only makes sure that the sessions are more productive, but also gives everybody involved the opportunity to invest into the project. This investment of time and travel forms a commitment to the project that will not be soon forgotten. Send everybody home with some t-shirts that they wear to the office and to parties, proudly proclaiming that they are part of a global team working on YOUR project.
Makes sure everybody is working with the same expectations and information
So you’ve engaged a localization company to manage your translations. They have promised you a bunch of shiny customized workflows and tools that they will be using to ensure that the translation goes A-OK and there is nothing to worry about whatsoever, thank you very much! But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you may be a little skeptical that everything is running as smoothly as you are being told.
These partner summits are the perfect opportunity to kick the tires and look under the hood. There is no better way to make sure that everybody is dealing with the same information, tools and same expectations from the client signing the purchase order to the engineer handling the files to the proofreader checking the translations. If there is any disconnect happening, rest assured that it will be flushed out before the summit is over!
Sharing is caring
No matter how engaging your presentations or how lively the group discussions, the topics discussed and goals set will soon fade from your team’s collective memory unless you take steps to actively preserve this information. This means setting a clear schedule for following up on action items and reviewing progress towards goals. It is also very important to preserve the information discussed.
Designate a note taker for each session that can record what was discussed. Make sure to collect all PowerPoint presentations and place them in a shared location. It is even better to have your sessions recorded and make the videos available to all parties afterwards. You will thank yourself later when you have new additions to your team and you can use this as valuable training material for them to get up to speed on your project.
So next time you are about to start working on a new product, or that next release of an existing product, or are kicking off a new service, or just feel like it is time to rejuvenate your global team, think about organizing a Linguistic Partner Summit.
I have tried to make a case for how this is clearly a good investment, as well as outline some best practices to follow to ensure that your event is a success, and so am asking you to take my word for it. However, once you experience this for yourself, you will walk away with the confidence that it was well worth the effort!