Case Study: Virtual Team Essay

Teams are the typical building blocks of an organization: They provide companies with the means to combine the various skills, talents and perspectives of a group of individuals to achieve goals. While a virtual team has many advantages over a physical one, it is far from perfect. Today, most of the documentation which is available on teams focuses on the traditional team, the group of people that work together in a co- location with the goal of finishing a specific project.

Virtual teams are increasingly global, creating challenges for communication and coordination due to greater distances, multiple time zones, and cultural differences. There options when it comes to work design and leadership of virtual teams as noted below. Designs Wheel design Modular design Iterative approach Modular design As stated in Mapping out the creative process and work design approach the most common work design approaches used during the creative process of these virtual teams was the modular approach. In this approach, team members met initially to decide on the need, task, or project to be pursued. Then, as a group, the work was parceled out or distributed among team members, usually based on each individual team member’s expertise or interest. Team members then went off to work on their “pieces of the pie,” sometimes by themselves, sometimes with one or two other members of the team. ” Mapping (2004) In a virtual setting a centralized leader serves the team well, such as the one used in the Wheel design.

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The wheel is a classic type of communication network (Katz and Kahn, 1978), in which there is one key person who communicates to all team members. Members on two different status levels make up the network—a high-status member (the leader or supervisor) and lower-level members or assistants. Mapping (2004) Simplex Simplex is a creativity tool developed by Min Basadur. Simplex (2007) this system is used by various teams across the spectrum collocated and dispersed globally. Simplex System brings together a creative problem solving process of and some creative thinking tools to help make that process work.

The Simplex System is comprised of eight problem solving steps it is designed to ensure that users solve the most significant problems with the best solutions available. This is a good option for dispersed or virtual team because of the drill down method to get to the root cause and analysis of a problem. Leadership Structure Permanent Rotating Facilitator or coordinator Leaderless “We believe that it is with these teams that the huge challenge of leadership is particularly acute because the leader has the joint challenge of geographic dispersion and innovative problem solving. . Malhotra, A, Majchrzak, A, and Rosen, B. (2007) Leadership of Virtual Teams A permanent style is best served with virtual teams a leadership structure is associated with centralized decision-making. Dispersed teams fail to perform important processes effectively and are therefore unable to realize their potential. But given the fact that virtual teams have become an increasing reality for many companies, managers need to understand how to maximize the benefits of dispersion while minimizing its disadvantages.

Virtual teams can become disastrous without proper leadership. In order to maintain efficiency, a leader has to close interpersonal geographic distances, and bring every team member together around a common goal. The main challenge of virtual leadership is the lack of cohesion among employees; sometimes they are not able to work well with each other, and they lose sight of the team’s priorities. Technology is only a small component of virtual leadership. Leadership is about relationships and trust, and in virtual leadership these become essential building blocks.

Below are several essential questions for a leader to answer in order to determine if the leader will be successful at leading a virtual team: Can I trust people I have never met face to face? Can they trust me? Would I be able to motivate and empower people over a mobile device? How would I facilitate ongoing opportunities for leadership development? “Several of the teams we studied struggled initially because they lacked a common set of procedures or way of doing things. In the absence of communication norms, team members resorted to using the practices prevalent in their local setting. Malhotra, A, Majchrzak, A, and Rosen, B. (2007) Virtual leadership is in many ways a paramount task that demonstrates the effectiveness of a leader. Empowering a group of people who are in the room with you can be difficult. Leading people who work from home is a challenge. Leading a group of people who are located in different countries, have different time zones, and speak different languages is extremely complex. One of the key reasons for organizing a dispersed team is to draw on the superior knowledge that resides in remote locations.

Collaboration across distance is more difficult than in a co-located environment. Potential issues include difficulties in communication and coordination, reduced trust, and an increased inability to establish a common ground. When a team is closely co-located, an individual leader can more easily detect any deficiencies in teamwork and address them with a hands-on managerial style. This is way a leader of a virtual team must be diligent in detecting deficiencies. Virtual leadership will obviously work only with the use of existing and emerging technologies.

However, leadership and teamwork are not built around technology and gadgets, but rather around relationships that people have with each other. Every leader has to first focus on creating relationships with employees References Malhotra, A. , Majchrzak, A. , and Rosen, B. (2007) Leading virtual teams. Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(1), 60-70. Mapping out the creative process and work design approach. Retrieved from http://media. wiley. com/product_data/excerpt/46/07879711/0787971146. pdf Simplex. A powerful integrating problem-solving process. (2007) Retrieved from http://www. mindtools. com/pages/article/newCT_10. htm

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