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This paper examines the expected challenges of a virtual team, whose aim is to make economical shoes to be sold in Brazil. The challenges expected include: cultural differences, goal disagreements and communication problems. Other challenges are: technological differences, performance measurement and difference in work ethics. The paper highlights on how the mentioned challenges can be conquered too. In addition, it provides the comparison between the processes involved in making a virtual team and a team.
A virtual team is a group of people in different regions working together to achieve a common purpose. On the other hand, a team is a group of individuals in the same region working together to achieve a common goal.
Tuckmans model of team development emphasizes on the five stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning (Blair, 1979). These stages are more applicable to the formation of a team than to a virtual team. This is because members of a group can come together and discuss issues unlike members of a virtual team who have to use technology (Noble, 2002).
According to the theories and models of team development, a team is formed systematically. In other words, the theories or models have specific stages in which a team has to go through. On the other hand, a virtual team has no definite method in its formation. It is formed on the basis of the pending need (Noble, 2002).
People from different regions usually have different styles of working. This can be a big problem if these people have to work together to achieve a common goal. A team that works differently will never achieve its goals. According to Tuckman’s model, the first thing a team should do is to know each other. This falls under the forming stage where team members are supposed to interact with each other in a casual and relaxing way. In the process, the members will learn about each other’s style of work and conduct.
Disagreements on the goals of the team
According to the storming stage, (Tuckmans model) various dispute arises on the team’s objectives, vision and mission. Since the members have different levels of knowledge, conflicts are bound to arise. Disagreements have the potential of bringing the whole work to a halt. This stage is similar to conflicts stage in the Fisher’s model. To overcome this challenge, a leader should be clear on the company’s goals and ensure that none of the members deviates from them.
Despite of the fact that they all speak English, some are better than others. This may lead to misinterpretation and misunderstanding especially if there are no standard or specific communication techniques. Inability to communicate effectively may lead to failure of a virtual team (Noble, 2002). This challenge will be solved by training members on proper communication skills and techniques. Policies on virtual communication have to be established and well understood.
Working in a virtual team requires a standardized communication technology. The team will encounter challenges if they do not have standard modes of communication. Some of the methods used in communication in a virtual team are: voice calls, chatting and emails. Some members prefer one method over the other; therefore a phone user might misinterpret an email message quite easily (Noble, 2002). This challenge should be solved by choosing a standard and effective technology that has been proposed by the majority.
In order to pick out members who are a liability to a team, the performance of each member has to be measured. However, since members of a virtual team operate on what is at their disposal, there can never be a standard means of measuring performance. This means that there is a possibility of having an incompetent member, without the leader knowing. Hence a standardized management tool should be used to solve this challenge (Blair, 1979). It should take into account all the variables that arise from any particular environment.
Differences in work ethics
Individuals have different work ethics which are in conjunction with their working environment. Members of a virtual team have different ideas on how long one should work or take a break. As a result, work ethics conflicts will arise. This challenge has been addressed in the conflicts stage of the Tubbs’s small group theory. This challenge can be solved by adhering to the norming stage in Tuckmans model. The norming stages advocates for clarity in work ethics. This means each task has to be completed at specific time without delay.
In conclusion, the challenges of forming the virtual team in Nike will be: cultural differences, disagreements on the team’s goals, communication problems, technological differences, performance measurement and differences in work ethics.
Since the members of this team are located in different time zones, they should agree on the specific time they should be holding their meetings. During such meeting, they should use conference calls to communicate with each other since they all speak English. Other means of communication should be via emails. Therefore, they should be urged to be checking their emails at least twice a day.
As far as work ethic is concerned, all of them should be given duties in which they are supposed to accomplish within a given time. Since the study is being done in Brazil, the three employees working there should do the ground work.
Blair, G. M. (1979). Starting to Manage: the essential skills. London: Chartwell-Bratt (UK).
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Noble, S. M. (2002). Handbook of Best Practices for Teams. Dallas: HRD Press.