Virtual teams

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Yadira Suarez


Management and Leadership of Virtual and Global Teams


November 30, 2010

Competitive demands are forcing companies to re-evaluate their business strategies in order to become more productive and efficient in their daily operations. Nowadays, it is common fororganizations to build virtual work teams, with geographically dispersed and culturally disparate individuals. Managing a virtual team could be like looking for a seat in a dark place or finding the solution to a puzzle. How can we manage risks that can be serious? In today’s global, fast-paced economy, virtual teams help organizations become more responsive and adaptive to the business environment. Virtualteams are increasingly larger and more complex. Yet, virtual teams also present challenges such as the lack of trust, member isolation, performance monitoring, enhance inter-personal skill and technology issues. However, with the right competences and skills virtual teams can overcome the challenges. The establishment of trust and effective leadership are two activities that will helporganizations establish successful virtual teams. Organizations must keep in mind that teams are made up of individuals with differing views, culture backgrounds, and technical knowledge.

Organizations cannot rely on technology alone to create a sense of commitment and teamwork. Kelley E.(2001) also point out that although virtual teams promise the flexibility, responsiveness, lower costs, and improvedresource utilization necessary to meet the challenges of the dynamic global business environment, they are also prone to problems, a ―dark side‖ of virtual teams characterized by low individual commitment, role overload, role ambiguity, absenteeism, and social loafing.

In this research, I explain what are the different challenges virtual team managers faces and what best practices can be appliedto improve collaboration and communication among members. I discuss the types of technologies that are available to support virtual teams and how important is to select the right tools that will support the communication among members.

Challenge: Build trust: One of the biggest challenges of virtual teams is to build and maintain trust between team members.Trust is critical for unblocking communication between members and sustaining motivation of each member involved. Katzenback and Smith (1993) Real teams do not emerge unless the individuals on them take risks involving conflict, trust, interdependence, and hard work. Of the risks required, the most formidable involve building the trust and interdependence necessary to move from Trust is asignificant factor in project success. Trust in leaders and other team members relates to higher organizational performance. The level of trust positively correlates to: • job performance • organizational citizenship behavior • turnover intentions • job satisfaction • organizational commitment • commitment to decisions

Robins and Finley (2000) Teamwork requires trust among team members—trust that memberscan depend on one another, that all members will contribute their share of the work, that the team will fairly distribute resources, and that the team will include and inform everyone through open, honest communication. High performing teams consciously establish and maintain an environment of trust. Trust becomes a felt presence, an accepted norm, and a foundation for all that the team does. AsKezbom (2000) asserted, effective teamwork is difficult in the best of times and conditions, so virtual teams members must work extra hard to develop interpersonal skills that will enable them to be effective in the environment in which they work. The successful development of virtual teams requires a high degree of teamwork and a remarkable ability to interact with other people.

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