Latin American development team

How to Build Communication with Your Latin American Development Team

Developers from Latin America can deliver solid output due to their strong proficiency in programming and data science. In addition, the region’s talent pool is consistently growing and offers lower salaries and rates compared to counterparts in North America and Western Europe. Companies can confidently rely on the capabilities of a remote team in the region by building trust and recognizing cultural differences. This requires a lot of empathy and patience, but ultimately it shapes the extent of the contribution the talent will make.

YouTeam helps clients who work with developers from the Latin American region establish effective communication. We regularly hold feedback calls to help companies and developers find common ground. In this guide, we’ve compiled advice for tech leaders to ensure they are well-prepared before starting to work with Latin American employees or contractors. We will further discuss how the virtues of communication and active listening are critical in building a successful cooperation with developers from one of the most influential software talent regions.

Key takeaways

  • Less experienced Latin American developers are unlikely to debate management decisions or provide constructive criticism. Scheduling one-on-one meetings and allowing anonymous feedback can make it more comfortable for developers to share their ideas and concerns.
  • Clearly defining goals promotes a sense of individual responsibility and prevents misunderstandings or duplication of efforts.
  • Avoiding excessive supervision and encouraging autonomy motivates software developers to find solutions and remain responsible.

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Embracing cultural differences

For engineers in Latin America with extensive experience in international teams, saying ‘no’ or offering constructive criticism is usually not an issue. However, for the less experienced, it can be difficult to disagree with a manager or a client. This stems from a difference in mentality – it is not typical for them to debate or confront those who pay them money.

One way to encourage a diverse team to reach mutual understanding is to hire a business coach experienced in intercultural communication. Additionally, engineering leaders can pair newly hired LatAm developers with mentors who provide support and advice. They should also allow software team members to submit ideas and concerns about the working process through anonymous feedback. More importantly, managers need to communicate their expectations clearly and concisely and schedule regular one-on-one meetings to better understand developers’ personal preferences and find ways to improve their efficiency. We’ll discuss this in more detail in the next sections.

Communicating clear expectations

Developers better understand what is expected of them when the manager clearly defines roles and responsibilities, sets realistic goals for each role, and ensures everyone on the team is aligned with these expectations. Clearly defining goals promotes a sense of individual responsibility and prevents misunderstandings, duplication of effort, and gaps in the workflow.

When team members are aware of their workload and expected deadlines, they can manage their time and efforts more effectively, leading to consistent delivery. The team leader should regularly check for any unclear aspects of the project or business process, ensuring employees have all the necessary information to complete their tasks.

The technical leader should pay special attention to newcomers, primarily by appointing a responsible person to familiarize the developer with the project code, explain the roles of other team members, and outline when and how to interact with them. The manager should communicate to the developer what is expected during their onboarding and the first few months. Goals may include gaining a deeper understanding of the tech stack and the operating environment, as well as developing, implementing, and releasing new features for the company’s platform or product. To better monitor progress, managers should set intermediate goals: it’s always easier for the team to move forward step by step.

Providing and receiving feedback

The key to building a trustworthy relationship lies in being honest about the company’s long-term goals and how the developer aligns with those goals.

During one-on-one feedback sessions, managers should address uncertainties and misunderstandings early to prevent the development of more serious issues. Software engineers also learn the extent to which they have fulfilled their directives. The purpose of these conversations is not to assign blame but to learn, improve, and encourage engineers to get better with each sprint.

Feedback sessions should always be two-way. Some Latin American engineers may view confrontation as undesirable, leading them to be less forthcoming in discussions about project bottlenecks. A solution is to politely ask them about situations that may have consistently hindered their performance and to explore ways to prevent these issues in the future. Based on the developer’s response, managers may send them for advanced training, assign a fellow teammate to help with complex problems, or adjust their workload by shifting some responsibilities to another team member.

Finally, feedback meetings help managers understand a developer’s mood before monotonous work leads to a job change. For instance, while developers might prefer creating new features or applications from scratch, allowing for the exploration of new ideas and working with the latest technologies, they often end up continuously working on minor bug fixes or routine maintenance of existing code.

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Fostering responsibility

A strong company culture is one where team members take responsibility for their actions and strive for daily improvement. This can be achieved by avoiding excessive supervision and encouraging autonomy. Developers need the freedom to make their own decisions. It’s important to ensure they are motivated to find solutions, rather than fearing punishment for mistakes. Therefore, managers should make it clear that owning up to mistakes shows strength, not weakness, and that it’s better to fix problems than to blame others.

Developers who are granted autonomy, along with a sense of ownership and collective responsibility, tend to trust each other more. This trust stems from confidence in each team member’s abilities and judgment.

However, lengthy and frequent team meetings can undermine autonomy. They can distract developers from their work and lead to a culture of micromanagement, which is the antithesis of productivity.

Providing equal opportunities

When remote developers realize that they are treated the same as in-house employees, they feel like part of the team. This is especially important for Latin American talent who place a high value on personal relationships.

Equal opportunities begin with transparent, unbiased hiring practices. Companies should build a structured interviewing process that focuses on a candidate’s specific qualifications and skills, rather than age, gender, and race. If possible, they should set up a diverse interview panel and use software to standardize the vetting process.

In addition, companies can offer locally competitive compensation and benefits, provide equal access to training programs and career advancement opportunities, and allow developers to work on challenging projects that enhance their critical thinking skills.

Finally, setting up a flexible working schedule accommodates different lifestyles and allows employees or contractors to work during their most productive hours. Engineers who maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life are often happier and more confident in their employers.

Budgeting extra time for relationship-building

Latin American culture typically implies less formal and less explicit communication, with decisions often being built through long-term partnerships and face-to-face conversations. (1), (2) Developers in this region value social harmony, avoid confrontation, and consider belonging to a group crucial.

That’s why effective dialogue and human bonding are key in building trust. Managers should allocate time for non-work-related talks, showing interest in the personal lives of software developers. Organizing offline team gatherings can also solidify the sense of unity.

Furthermore, by understanding the individual preferences and aspirations of developers, they can be offered personalized benefits. These might include compensation for sports activities, additional paid time off for volunteering, or reimbursement for courses that enhance their programming skills.

Final thoughts

Accepting differences, respecting each team member’s unique working style, and fostering responsibility and autonomy in remote teams lead to a more productive environment. However, besides recognizing differences, it’s also important to notice similarities and shared values, as they can provide an even more solid groundwork for building trust. Our shared values act as a bridge, expanding our knowledge about individual preferences, working styles, culturally sensitive aspects, and ethical norms.

Written by
Artem Vasin

Artem Vasin is a content writer at YouTeam, blending a unique educational background from both the scientific and creative fields. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics and secondary music education. The author's journey in writing began with a focus on business intelligence and OSINT. At YouTeam, Artem delved into topics surrounding recruitment and software development.

His pursuit of knowledge is reflected in his completion of courses like Reuters' Digital Journalism Foundations and Ravensbourne University London's Digital Marketing and Communication. This continuous learning journey allows him to bring fresh perspectives to the subjects he covers.

Artem's literary preferences include Philip Kotler's Marketing anthology, Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, and Isaac Asimov's Robot series.

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