Team Building for a Ten-Person T-Mobile Virtual Team
Virtual teams are critical to a company’s success. Multinationals use virtual platforms to maintain their economic and social infrastructure (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). In this regard, my organization (T-Mobile) has assigned me to lead a ten-person virtual team to implement the recommendations of a report on factors causing decreased job motivation among our employees. My team members comprise different heads of departments, and I will task them with leading change in their respective departments. Therefore, before I commission them, I have to assess the virtual team’s effectiveness and improve on the weaknesses. Accordingly, specific challenges affect virtual teams and customized solutions are necessary.
Potential Problems Facing Virtual Teams
Most virtual teams struggle with trust establishment. According to Morrison-Smith and Ruiz (2020), virtual team members need assurance that the team has implicit and explicit commitments and honesty to the task. Notably, effective team collaboration demands trust to allow team members to solve conflicts, discuss issues, share feedback, and ask each other for help. In this regard, trust is the “glue” that determines the team’s performance by holding collaborations together (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). Besides, experts argue that building trust is important than solving technical issues because it determines commitment to the project and team (Alfehaid & Mohamed, 2019, p. 25). Therefore, trust builds confidence among virtual team members.
Virtual meetings lack face-to-face and informal communication which are critical success factors. “Virtuality”demands informal communication for increased commitment and improved performance (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). Notably, virtual team members need avenues to discuss work-non-related issues and formal communication does not provide the opportunity. In this regard, informal communication allows members to build trust, and share critical task awareness and knowledge (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020; Alfehaid & Mohamed, 2019, p. 26). Besides, members find formal meetings tiresome since they require increased effort to reach teammates. On the contrary, instances of informal communication often lead to idea-sharing and spontaneous decisions.
Virtual teammates are prone to intra-team conflicts. Virtual conflicts may relate to the delegation of workers for tasks, responsibilities, or personal issues (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). Experts note that virtual team members are likely to have higher perceptions of unfairness as a result of computer-mediated communication. Therefore, the team develops us-versus-them attitudes that may adversely escalate if the issuesremain unaddressed and unidentified (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). For instance, team members within the same geographical area may refer to themselves as “we” and view others as “them.” Similarly, international collaborators coming from different regions may perceive each other as enemies and conflict.
Furthermore, the socio-cultural distance betweenteammates may cause a division. Virtual teams usually comprise people from different regions and their usual practices, work values, motivations, politics, languages, and culture may vary (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020). Distance usually increases demographic heterogeneity and socio-cultural diversity is eminent in geographically distributed collaborations unlike in a common office scenario. Therefore, the effectiveness and performance of a virtual team will depend on its cultural composition since members have different behaviors within the team according to their cultural backgrounds (Morrison-Smith & Ruiz, 2020; Alfehaid & Mohamed, 2019, p. 26). Examples of other forms of diversity include values, beliefs, sex, age, and race.
Why My Team is Susceptible to the Problems
My virtual team is susceptible to the four problems for various reasons. Foremost, my team has different forms of diversity among its members. For instance, two heads of department in my team are members of people living with disabilities. Other members come from different religions, ethnic groups, and races. Besides, a few other members have different political beliefs, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultures. Therefore, my group is diverse and we must tolerate the opinions of our colleagues but use T-Mobile’s company code of ethics to collaborate in the virtual team. Nonetheless, I am well prepared because I understand that my team may mostly face diversity-related problems.
Training is critical for a virtual team’s effectiveness. Experts recommend that virtual team members need the training to empower them to overcome communication barriers (Khalil, 2017, p. 13; Marlow et al., 2017, p. 575). Besides, members must acquire the necessary skills and competencies to increase their performance. Khalil (2017) also notes that training is critical to instill cultural tolerance, conflict resolution, decision making, problem-solving, goal setting, task planning, and communication skills (13). Moreover, members need training on trust development and team building to develop competencies and enhance their written and verbal communications. Therefore, T-Mobile must not ignore training members on basic skills.
Virtual teams need robust leadership and a vibrant virtual team modulator. Virtual meetings depend on communication technology to solve intra-team conflicts since they lack face-to-face interactions (Khalil, 2017, p. 13; Marlow et al., 2017, p. 575). Besides, the team needs leadership to enhance its performance through team motivation and trust-buildinginitiatives. In this regard, modulators must show a high level of cultural sensitivity, provide continuous feedback, set clear goals, use effective communication tools, build cohesion and trust, observe every team activity, and ensure swift incorporation of new members (13). In this regard, leadership determines the effectiveness of multinational virtual teams.
Effective communication and appropriate use of technology will save T-Mobile’s virtual team’s problems. Khalil (2017) notes that asynchronous technology cannot allow virtual team members to read non-verbal cues, and information sharing is impaired. In this regard, the author recommends that members should use simpler words, speak slowly, and avoid using jargon. Besides, members can avoid the effects of emotional and physical distance by embracing each other’s differences and increasing a sense of belonging through effective communication (Khalil, 2017, p. 13). Nevertheless, to avoid the problem of “too much formal communication”, members must use both asynchronous and synchronous communication tools(12). The tools will increase members’ interactions during virtual meetings.
Virtual teams must prioritize satisfaction and performance. According to Khalil (2017), virtual team leaders must ensure their meetings meet the timeliness of task outputs, quantity, and quality standards to avoid unnecessary issues (14). In this regard, a company must have a reliable Information Technology infrastructure for various forms of diversity, such as people living with disabilities (14). Besides, the leadership must ensure that all virtual members agree upon and perceive team deliverables to improve team satisfaction reduce the conflicts of “us” versus “them. “Nevertheless, the moderator must provide timely performance feedback to allow virtual members to improve or adjust.
In summation, specific challenges affect virtual teams and customized solutions are necessary. The T-Mobile virtual team, like other multinationals, faces many challenges. For instance, the virtual team suffers from trust establishment, lack of informal engagements, intra-team conflicts, and cultural distance. Notably, the composition of T-Mobile’s virtual team comprises people from diverse backgrounds, and it is prone to diversity problems. However, experts recommend solutions like training, virtual leadership, effective use of technology, and performance priority. Therefore, for effective performance, a virtual team must address all its challenges.
Alfehaid, L., & Mohamed, E. (2019). Understanding the influence of e-leadership on virtual team performance. International Journal of Business and Applied Social Science, 5(10), 25-26. https://doi.org/10.33642/ijbass.v5n10p3
Khalil, S. (2017). Investigating the factors that influence virtual teams’ performance within the United Arab Emirates using IMOI model. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 8(1), 12-14. Retrieved 18 April 2021, from.
Marlow, S., Lacerenza, C., & Salas, E. (2017). Communication in virtual teams: a conceptual framework and research agenda. Human Resource Management Review, 27(4), 575-589. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2016.12.005
Morrison-Smith, S., & Ruiz, J. (2020). Challenges and barriers in virtual teams: a literature review. SN Applied Sciences, 2(6). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42452-020-2801-5
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