The Authority Partners Team Stories-Mustafa Mehmedic

Great people achieve great things. Our global team turns challenges into opportunities, mountains into molehills, and ideas into actions. The geographically dispersed team coming together virtually and physically to work toward a common goal is now the norm in the global economy. Our global team offers the best functional expertise from around the world, combined with in-depth knowledge and skills.

A 2019 Global Employee Survey by professional employer organization, Globalization Partners, revealed that an astonishing 72% of people said they like to be part of a global team. This does not come as a surprise to us. There are many benefits to being part of a global team. From our experience, chances are the flow of ideas will be endless, and creativity will flourish. You get a chance to have invaluable experience in understanding different cultures, have friends all over the planet, master communication skills, follow trends, etc.

To get you familiar with how a global team works on a daily basis, we talked with Mustafa Mehmedic, Project Manager at Authority Partners.

As a former Software Developer and now a Program Manager and Scrum Master, Mustafa understands the team’s needs and how to place their effort in the right direction. He has start-up experience and experience with engineering, development, testing, maintenance, and team organization. Currently, Mustafa is focused on how to improve the team’s efficiency, using tools, team structure, improving their communication, and how to decrease gaps between the business and engineering teams, which is a very hot topic at the moment. Some of his current interests include AI and data science.

AP: Could you tell us a little bit about your own experiences working in the global team?

MM: I can just say it is great! I have an opportunity, to my personal satisfaction, to collaborate with people in different roles, working with us from different countries and even different continents. The experience I’m getting is priceless. The teams I work with are cross-functional, cross-system, and global, and half of the guys are working remotely.

AP: Let’s start with some basics and discuss the characteristics of a global team. What is a global team exactly?

MM: To have a global team, I would say you need to have a significant number of people not there with you at the office but working together, and you need to communicate and collaborate daily to deliver. If the team members are not in the same country, they would need to take into consideration a lot of different things, which they normally wouldn’t. For example, we all speak the IT language, but sometimes even a different English accent can be a challenge.

AP: Based on your experience, what would you say are some of the biggest benefits of working in a global team?

MM: Our clients and their customers are spread all over the world. Even though we are all professionals, and we have rules and processes, it sometimes really comes in handy to have someone you know (from the team) with a different background, to help to understand some issue or a request better. It is also useful to have a different point of view when you’re creating something new, or brainstorming on a complex problem. The people are different, all of us are unique, but working within a global team guarantees you will have people with different experiences and a different opinion about stuff. If managed and used correctly, it is a good thing to have.

AP: Considering the other side of the coin. Do you think there might be some disadvantages or challenges related to working in a global team? Are there ways to overcome them?

MM: Disadvantages, I don’t think so, but challenges yes. Every team, to be a successful one, need to have strong links. Time zone can be a challenge for one example. The other one could be real-time communication. Most people think long-distance relationships can’t work, but that doesn’t need to be the case. It is not so much the challenges, as the people willing to overcome them and use their differences and obstacles they face, as their advantage. If one link is not strong enough, the entire thing won’t fall apart, but the team won’t reach its full potential. But I wouldn’t use the chain analogy, because the chain links do not help each other to be (or preform) better. With our global teams, that is one of the best and most important characteristics we have.

AP: What are some basic principles of global team communication, and how can we make sure it’s effective?

MM: We already said that communication could be at least a challenge. So, the first thing we need is technology. We need to carefully choose communication channels that will be used inside the team. It must be available, easy to use, and accepted by everyone. A process is also an important one: clearly defined tasks, reports, and forums. If the team is working on a backlog with multiple complex tasks that have different specs, flows, and even dependencies on other systems and teams, we need to foster shared leadership. Some team members can learn and know more about some of those tasks, and participate in reporting, decision making, and managing efforts of their colleagues, to increase the team’s velocity and quality. Something else that is important is to create a sense of urgency with all the team members. If the team is working on something important and urgent, it really helps to have in-person meetings and collaboration inside the same office. With global teams, a lot of communication is done using chat and tickets, and the guys working on the other side of the line need to understand that written communication, has to be translated as if it was said out loud.

What helps to build up good communication – is to build up a team. If you have a mature global team, one or two new guys will be easily brought up to speed. It’s a lot harder to establish all these principles with a fully new team.

Two other important things – The first one is that all the people need to feel and know, they are a part of the team and a part of the Company in general. Always include everyone in meetings and other events and create conditions to do so in a practical way. Related to this, the guys need to have a chat on non-work-related stuff. If they can’t bump into each other in a hallway or meet for a minute when making a cup of coffee, they need to share funny and interesting things in a different way. An off-topic channel or a Skype group is a good idea, especially if the guys create it on their own. The second one I wanted to mention is to have one on one calls with the team members. This will help to clarify something complex, which could be misunderstood if communicated in writing and give the opportunity to the people to have in-person contact from time to time.

AP: What are your thoughts on leadership in global teams?

MM: Leadership and careful planning are crucial, especially in newly formed teams. The team will need some help to overcome challenges and obstacles and to realize the benefits. They will need to understand and start using the processes, technology, communication ways properly, and other best practices introduced by previous experiences. But also, someone will need to listen and help them put into action their ideas, how to be more efficient – since every team is practically unique in some way.