Starting and running any successful business is always stressful, but add into that having multiple offices and in other countries, and it can quickly become nearly impossible. Further, when you consider the issues related to others who are trying to work in these satellite locations, and you can encounter even more difficulties. Consider the suggestions below and watch your challenges shrink.
Make all of your offices feel like they are at headquarters
Always remember that whatever business you are in, your most important assets go home at the end of the day. As a result, no employee at a foreign office should feel like they have no support from you. Time changes can make this a difficult challenge to overcome, but it can be done. When you get a phone call or an email from a foreign office, for example, you should always make it a point to try to respond as quickly as possible after you receive it. And when there is a really big problem, you should even open the door to contacting you after hours, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
Balance the culture of your company with that of your foreign offices
When a customer or another person deals with your company, then works with a foreign office, do they feel like they are working with a different company? They shouldn’t. Granted, offices that are in a foreign country will take on a different flavor, but they should also retain the essence of the company they represent. And this goes further than just the products or services they sell. It should be the flagship of the company they represent.
Keep on top of change in foreign offices
Much of the concern towards foreign offices involves keeping those locations up to date with what is happening at headquarters, but attention also needs to be paid at headquarters to what is happening in foreign offices. This is particularly important when it comes to people. You might have the complete trust in the person you sent to a foreign office, but what happens when that person decides to leave? Will he hire someone you can trust? Will he train his replacement well and up to your standards?
After someone earns your trust, let them keep it
It’s imperative that managers learn to delegate authority. Even more important is if you do delegate authority to someone, let them exercise it without interference from you. A lot of problems can be minimized before sending someone into the field by having them work closely with you in the head office. There they will learn better not only what to do but how. Perhaps General George Patton said it best when he told his senior staff, “Always tell a man what you want done, but never how to do it. Their ingenuity will shock the h*ll out of you.”
To a very great extent, all successful companies are international. But those companies that work through the divisions that make them “foreign” are the ones that will remain successful in the long run.