Challenges With Working With Contractors Overseas

Many small businesses outsource work to contractors in other countries. You will need to be aware of these problems to create a successful relationship with them. Here are some things that you will need to know.

Be Wary of Communication Barriers

There are many opportunities in the global marketplace, but it can be very challenging as well. You may encounter a number of communication barriers when trying to work with people overseas. These problems could be the result of both language and cultural differences.

You will need to learn as much about the cultural differences as possible if you are going to be working with an overseas contractor. This is important to keep in mind even if they seem to speak decent English. You may find that certain phrases have different connotations in their country.

Things can be a lot more complex when they don’t even speak the same native language. Some overseas contractors have learned how to speak English, but their lack of fluency can lead to problems.

It may be a good idea to hire a local project manager that is fluent in both languages and had an understanding of both cultures.  They can relay important updates to you and your other project managers.

Understand Cultural Personality Differences

You will also need to be aware of personalities and psychological factors that affect people from different cultures. Of course, everybody is an individual, but there are some personality differences that you should definitely be aware of. Here are some tips that you will want to keep in mind:

  • Workers in some cultures tend to procrastinate much more than others. You may need to work harder to keep them on task to meet deadlines. This is especially important if you are working on a project that they aren’t familiar and can’t always predict how long it will take.
  • People in some cultures have a difficult time being forthcoming about problems. You will need to monitor their performance carefully to see if there are any issues that may arise. You will need to avoid asking open-ended questions such as “is everything okay” or “will you meet the deadline on time.” You will instead want to ask specific questions to make sure that they are on task.
  • Different cultures have different views on authority. Some prefer to see their employers as equals and will speak very openly. However, others see themselves as servants and will be much less likely to offer their own feedback.
  • Many contractors in other countries will have a much more difficult time relating to your own customers. For example, a web designer in an Eastern country may not understand what types of colors and layouts are appropriate for Western viewers.

It is important to understand the differences in cultural views. These can cause complications if they aren’t monitored carefully.

Don’t Be Discouraged

It is important not to get discouraged when working with a contractor in a foreign country. Keep in mind that the best ideas are often developed when a homogenous group comes together to share ideas. While communication and personality differences may create problems, they may also help you see things in a new light.

There are many brilliant contractors around the world and they can be great to work with. The trick is to make sure that you understand them first.

About the author: Kalen Smith has been a lifelong entrepreneur and a former project manager for two online startups. He shares his trials and tribulations that other entrepreneurs can learn from.

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