How Localization Managers Can Keep The Whole Team Happy

For localization managers eager to build a positive team culture, the task begins by understanding the individual needs of each member.


Localization teams can arrive at unhappiness by an infinite number of paths. Most often it’s missed deadlines, quality doubts, or budget overruns that form the final straw, but the specifics of each journey into misery are entirely unique.

Happy localization teams, on the other hand, are all similar in at least one respect. While they may differ in size, structure, or strategy, they all communicate effectively.

And for localization managers eager to build a positive team culture, the task begins by understanding the individual needs of each member.

Satisfying Business Sponsors

Localization is a means to a business end. And if that result isn’t achieved reasonably soon, funding may evaporate entirely. So whether the initial support comes from Marketing, Customer Support, or any other department, localization managers must maintain strong relationships with the business sponsors near the top of the org chart.

Both sides need to agree on specific objectives and concrete metrics.

The former will help localization managers shape smarter strategies while the latter will help them report progress in a more relevant manner. Instead of overwhelming executives with operational minutiae, they’ll be able to prioritize ongoing updates around the insights that matter most.

Localization managers have to be assertive, however, when discussing the feasibility of plans. Ambitious goals are admirable, but business sponsors should leave conversations with no delusions regarding the resources they must invest to realize the desired results.

Comforting Content Owners

Not every creative professional embraces the idea of localization. Whether they’re copywriters, designers, or coders, many worry whether the integrity of their original ideas will shine through in an international adaptation.

Localization managers can ease these anxious attitudes by taking the time to learn more about the creative process behind source content.

  • What are its primary purpose and unique elements?
  • Which tools were used to create it?
  • How frequently is it updated?

Asking these questions and encouraging creative colleagues to articulate complete answers accomplishes several things.

First and foremost, it welcomes content owners into the localization process and lets them know their ideas have been heard.

Many times, that gesture alone is enough to assure a happy and productive working relationship. Beyond that, though, it also helps localization managers align workflows with existing content management systems, file formats, production cycles, and other key creative variables.

Finally, these discussions present an excellent opportunity to refine the style guides and glossaries translators will need to succeed.

Although compiling these educational resources is rarely anyone’s idea of fun, they ultimately represent a content owner’s best defense against watching their work get lost in translation.

Appeasing Linguistic Professionals

Conducting substantial conversations with content owners will make communicating with translators, editors, and reviewers exponentially easier. Because the more context localization managers can offer upfront, the less confusion linguists will encounter down the line.

The first set of contextual considerations is practical. Linguists need to know when localized content is due, where it will be displayed, and what business function it will serve. Their approach to a webpage detailing medical regulations, for example, would naturally differ from the way they treat emails announcing retail offers.

The second set of contextual considerations is more stylistic. Glossaries and guides will always be welcome resources, but some linguistic nuances will inevitably elude standardization. Localization managers can either try to communicate these subtleties with individual annotations or deploy software with visual context capabilities that make all the delicate details abundantly clear.

These preventative measures still need to be accompanied by contingency plans, however. Linguists will expect timely answers to their clarifying questions and constructive feedback on any subjective errors.

Many times, the most productive thing a localization manager can do in these instances is retreat from their role as middleman and build direct lines of communication between linguists and clients instead.

This collaboration style admittedly requires a certain level of trust and transparency among teammates, but modern software has made it exponentially easier to facilitate.

Cloud-based translation management platforms can now invite everyone into a centralized space where issues are collectively debated and resolved in real-time.

Delighting The Dev Team

Languages like HTML and JavaScript are just as important to localization as languages like French and Mandarin. The trouble is, anyone fluent in the former pair will likely have many competing obligations within an organization.

As a result, the smartest tactic for localization managers may be engaging developers early so fewer of their resources are required in the future. Content delivery will be the primary challenge to address.

Source content has to be isolated from its underlying software code before it can be sent to translators and replaced with a localized equivalent. But depending on developer availability, manually completing this internationalization process might take many months.

Localization managers should be prepared to seek automated solutions if developers cannot commit to a reasonable timeline, but their technical colleagues must remain involved in any software procurement process.

While there are several translation management platforms that may resemble the right solution to business users, the pool of potential candidates often shrinks after developers assess the IT impact and security implications.

By encouraging developers to share their requirements and recommendations from the start, localization managers will at the very least avoid technical headaches down the road. But more often than not, the left-brain bias of their colleagues ends up inspiring efficiency improvements everyone on the team can smile about.