Organizations have realized the solution to having successfully completed and accomplished projects is through the use of teams. Effective team work should provide collaboration and trust for managers and employees, seeking to achieve productivity, increased communication across boarders, cultures, knowledge and personalities (Larsson, Löfstrand, Karlsson and Törlind, p. 2). Trust and collaboration provide a team with a healthy working environment where cooperation and communication increases, thoughtfulness and reliance are prevalent.
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Additionally, working teams provide organizations with a dynamic combination of knowledge, skills and experiences that increase productivity, ability, character and strength of employees (Becton, Kepner and Wysocki, p. 1). Working teams also create a diverse work environment where knowledge exchange increases and consequently increases team and organizational performance. Working teams that cut across geographical and cultural boundaries are able to offer organizations exchange of external knowledge, which provides the organization with essential information on clients, communities, stakeholders, competitors and products. Diverse teams make it possible for organizations to increase their profit margins, market segment, fulfill social commitment and increase overall productivity.
However, true collaboration is identified as the main challenge which plagues organizations in the creation of team working environments (Larsson et al, p. 1). True collaboration within teams is an issue since, in the real sense we often reward individuals rather than the participation of a team. The challenge is the creation of real working teams, in a business situation where individuality is rewarded and team work ignored (Becton, Kepner and Wysocki, p. 1). Moreover, it is a challenge for employees to embrace team work in organizations where management cannot develop ways by which they can assist employees to grow and create teams.
Secondly, organizations are facing the demands of globalization, where management, business functions and working teams are dispersed over a larger geographical area. However, despite the advances in collaborative and communication technologies, businesses still face serious problems in the creation of mutual knowledge between these working teams. Mutual knowledge between teams is often hindered by a failure to communicate and the retention of contextual information (Cramton, p. 346). This implies that there is lack of flow of information and feedback between teams and hence a lack of common understanding.
Additionally, effective team work and mutual knowledge is hampered by difficulty in communication and understanding salient information. Achieving team work within distributed teams is impossible from the presence of proximity, latency and awareness issues (Larsson, p. 2). This is due to the presence of inherent cultural, linguistic and social differences, which complicate team efforts and hinder effective communication. These hindrances to team work are not only present in dispersed teams but also local teams.
A harmonious working environment is impossible to attain from the presence of individuality in team members. Team members may have the same level of education or have equal working experiences, but individual differences are ever present. The presence of differences hinders effective communication and understanding of information and feedback between team mates. Moreover, the more diverse a group is, the more difficult is achievement of team collaboration. This is because as most working experiences have proven, diversity presents opportunities for increased conflicts (Larsson et al, p. 2).
In conclusion, working teams provide organizations with diverse knowledge and skills which increase productivity, profit and market share. Despite these advantages, achieving effective teamwork environment is a challenge due to collaboration issues. These are identified as individual over team reward, hindrances of mutual knowledge like failure to communicate and retain information, understanding of salient information, and issues of proximity, latency and awareness. Lastly, inherent cultural, linguistic and social differences hinder communication and create conflict areas.
- Becton, Clayton, Kepner Karl and Wysocki Allen. “Building Teamwork and the Importance of Trust in a Business Environment.” EDIS, Department of Food and Resource Economics: University of Florida (2002).
- Cramton, Catherine D. “The Mutual Knowledge Problem and Its Consequences for Dispersed Collaboration.” Organization Science, JSTOR 12.3 (2001): 346-371.
- Larsson, Andreas, Löfstrand Magnus, Karlsson Lennart and Törlind, Peter,. “Towards True Collaboration in Global Design Teams.” International Conference on Engineering Design: ICED 05, 2005.