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Scenario Planning: Supplementing Traditional Strategic Planning

It is clear the rate of change in today's work environments has been aggravating with more emphasis nowadays on smaller teams, incremental and rapid delivery, faster payback, and frequent project status reporting. This acceleration has instigated uncertainty that forced organisations to start supporting their strategic planning with a longer term perspective of planning called scenario planning or scenario thinking/analysis. Scenario ...

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A Simple Method to Split a WordPress Post into Multiple Pages

A Simple Method to Split a Wordpress Post into Multiple Pages

One of the most effective ways to increase the number of page views and decrease the bounce rate of your site is by splitting your long posts into several pages. In the first part of the article, you will learn in 2 steps how to split a post in Wordpress using the codex function wp_link_pages() and the <!––nextpage––> tag. In the second ...

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Boosting Your WordPress Site’s Performance By Enabling GZIP Compression

Boosting Your Wordpress Site's Performance By Enabling GZIP Compression

Ever heard of GZIP? It is a simple software application that compresses/decompresses files based on an algorithm named DEFLATE. It works by finding similar strings in a text file and replacing them temporarily to make the overall file size smaller which would drastically improve the performance of your website. The algorithm perfectly works with CSS and HTML filetypes which typically ...

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Improving Quality of Project Estimation

It is clear that estimating a project is important for the project manager to determine how long the project would take, to figure out how much the project would cost, to decide whether the project is worth doing, to measure variances against the baseline plan, and to take corrective actions. However some project managers nowadays tend to put minimum effort ...

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Avoiding Common Pitfalls of High Performance Project Teams

Previously in one of my earlier articles, I discussed the key qualities required for a project manager to be effective in building a high performance project team. Believe it or not, though high performance project teams can produce incredible outcomes, there still remain some serious pitfalls that project managers need to be aware of in order not to fall victims ...

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Contract Management Must-Knows For Project Managers

Contract management constitutes a major component of a project procurement system. Most work done nowadays on projects involves dealing with contracts or has a contractual nature. Although some companies have purchasing departments that specialize in procurement, one of the basic knowledge and skills of a project manager is to be able to read and manage contracts. This post basically discusses ...

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Understanding And Managing Your Boss

The idea of “managing your boss” may sound quite unusual for some managers, considering the widespread adoption of the traditional top down management approach in most organizations. Even though talented and aggressive managers nowadays carefully control and administer their subordinates, services, and products, they might reveal, on the other hand, a passive stand with their bosses (Gabarro and Kotter 1993). ...

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Changes in Project Management Processes Between PMBOK 4 And PMBOK 5

This post presents a tabulated summary of differences in the names, inputs, tools, and outputs of project management processes between PMBOK 4 and PMBOK 5. Note that terms in Red which exist in PMBOK 4 have been removed or replaced in PMBOK 5, terms in Blue have been newly added into PMBOK 5, and terms in Black have not ...

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Critical Analysis of Porter's Five Forces Model - Information Technology (IT) Industry

In order to appropriately formulate their corporate strategies and distinctively compete in the market, organizations are in a need for a framework that would help them in understanding industry structure and in overcoming rivalry. This essay aims at discussing, analyzing, and criticizing Porter’s Five Forces model using a wide variety of academic literature. The first part introduces the model, discusses ...

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Key Qualities For An Effective Project Manager

This post describes key qualities needed for an effective project manager. It discusses the differences between leading and managing a project, explains the importance of managing stakeholders, describes how to gain influence by reciprocity, stresses on the significance of leading by example and managing by wandering around (MBWA), explores how to deal with the contradictory nature of work, and finally ...

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Home > Leadership > Challenges Facing Virtual Teams

Challenges Facing Virtual Teams

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The rise of marketplace globalization (Lurey & Raisinghani, 2001), the advances in computer technology, the multicultural nature of the workforce, and the ever-changing environment have led to the emergence of virtual teams (Shachaf, 2008). A virtual team is a geographically distributed group with a temporary lifespan and membership (Purvanova & Bono, 2009) performing interdependent tasks and relying on communication media to achieve its goals (Bosch-Sijtsema, 2007). Virtual team members may be dispersed within the organization’s facilities, in a single country, or across several countries and time zones (Wakefield & Leidner, 2008). A recent survey by the Gartner group showed that more than 60% of employees work in virtual teams (Martins, Gilson, and Maynard, 2004). These teams provide potential benefits to the organization including 24-hour service, travel cost-cutting, and best expertise employment (Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei, 2006). Yet those teams face challenges in cultural diversity, distortion in communication mechanisms, and time zone disparities (Shachaf, 2008). This essay will demonstrate solutions against these challenges to explain the rising opportunities of virtual teams. These solutions will include the appropriate team member selection, the effective use of communication media, the importance of four virtual leadership roles (facilitator, mentor, monitor, and coordinator), the establishment of positive team processes, the e-ethical management, the balance management between individual and organization expectations, the transformational leadership under uncertainty conditions, the awareness from virtual team subgrouping, the significance of establishing and promoting relationships among members, and finally the design of a proper HRM system.

Appropriate selection of team members and the promotion of a satisfactory organizational culture mitigate virtual team diversity conflicts. Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei (2006) categorized virtual team diversity as functional (differences in experience and education) and social category (differences in culture, gender, and age). Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei (2006) explained this diversity by two theories; similarity attraction theory and social identity theory. The former states that people prefer to interact with others of the same thinking while the latter states that people get affected by others of the same social category (Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei, 2006). A study done by Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei (2006) on three virtual teams from 11 countries spanning all continents demonstrated weak functional diversity and strong cultural diversity, especially between collectivistic cultures (Singapore and India) and individualistic cultures (United Stated and Canada). Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei (2006) suggested several approaches to tackle intercultural heterogeneity by adopting an integrative resolution approach (trying to satisfy all team members), by carefully choosing team members, and finally by creating a proper adaptive cultural environment. Also, Shachaf (2008) and Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei (2006) inferred that functional diversity might promote discussion, improve decision making, and lead to constructive conflicts especially when team members work on high-complex and interdependent tasks.

Effective selection and use of communication channels and the creation of new capabilities for communication can reduce team conflicts and intercultural communication. Shachaf (2008) argued that virtual teams encounter bigger communication challenges than face-to-face teams; the cultural diversity discussed above, the lack of nonverbal and vocal cues, and the time zone difference may distort communication among members. Supported by media richness theory, social presence theory, and social influence theory, Shachaf (2008) concluded in his study that virtual teams select the appropriate communication channel based on several factors like the social context, situational constraints, sender/receiver preferences, etc. As such Shachaf (2008) realized that technology can mitigate the effects of cultural diversity by alleviating space and time differences, improving message encoding/decoding, and getting around verbal and nonverbal cues. For instance, email reduced miscommunications attributed to nonverbal cues and differences in style and language. Also, Teleconferencing, like E-Meetings, allowed teams to use synchronous written documents to reduce barriers caused by unfamiliar accents. In addition, Team Room’s asynchronous repository of documents and archiving capabilities provided great help to overcome diversity difficulties (Shachaf, 2008). Not to mention Videoconferencing which, according to a study by Hambley, O’Neill, & Kline (2007) provided rich nonverbal communication to virtual teams.

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