20 lessons learned in 20 years of business
As EVS Translations UK approaches the celebration of its 20th anniversary in February, its founder and CEO, Edward Vick, joins us on the blog each week to speak about the business and life lessons learned from the UK chapter of his international business.
With 8 offices across 5 countries, the challenge has been to bring a geographically diverse team together; to keep things focused on a shared mission and for everyone to benefit from a wide remit of expertise. We coordinate efforts in a way which helps accelerate overall performance across the branches and move forward as a company.
In the beginning, as EVS Translations UK grew and other offices started to open their doors, I spent a lot of time moving between the different branches trying to spend time with staff and train them. But there is a limit to how much one person can do.
These days, there is much more technology available which really helps us to work as one team, despite the geographical distances between the offices.
Skype, conference calls, a central helpdesk – these all help us to do one thing more effectively which is share knowledge. Over the years, our different offices have developed certain strengths, or have experienced certain kinds of opportunities which have helped them to excel in different ways. We try to bring that all together so everyone is supported and can reap the benefits.
So it’s been a 3-step process: building a network through which everyone can access the same information, get the technology infrastructure in place to enable people to come together (so many options these days to virtually meet up, but it certainly helps having our centralised IT helpdesk because invariably tech needs trouble shooting), and finally to encourage everyone to knowledge share. The heads of department, who are managing teams split across countries, bring everyone together regularly for discussion and planning. This isn’t easy. When you first suggest the topic of a conference call, it can be tempting for people to reply that they are too busy and don’t have time. Getting that mindset in place – that we all need to come together – and ensuring it’s beneficial to all involved takes a little time. Then it becomes second nature and part of the structure.
Recently we have started with video tutorials. Knowledge sharing can be as simple as a phone call but there are times when different formats can be much more effective. They allow information to be shared limitless times and reduce the pressure for a person to give up time in order to be available to go over topics. These are training videos made by our staff and are made accessible on our training drive in the network. So, a recent example is from our UK office. Some newer members of the team wanted additional training on a specific type of design software which many of our clients are working with. Our translation engineer in the USA made the video and the visual explanation is superior to other formats.
Lesson learned: It’s so easy to let a geographically diverse team move in different directions and at different paces. But the benefits of centralising knowledge and sharing it helps overall performance and creates a shared mission. Knowledge sharing is a source of support for each individual.