Avirtual team refers to geographically clustered employees within theorganization’s structure, aiming at accomplishing a particular taskwith the aid of information technologies and telecommunications. Intoday’s competitive economies, virtual teams exemplify an emergingresponse to the necessity for cheap and quick solutions to compoundorganizational difficulties. For most organizations, virtual teamsensure a merger of expertise and talents of both non-employees andemployees by removing space and time barriers. In this day and age,companies are heavily investing in this concept in order to improvetheir competitiveness and performance (Kimble and Barlow, 2000).
Accordingto Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist, group dynamics refers to theeffects of individual distinct behaviors and roles on other groupmembers, and on the group as a whole. The dictum of group dynamics isthat the whole is will always be greater than the totality of itsparts (Garfoot,2003). More than often, groups possessing positive elements are easilyspotted. In such a society, there exists the trust amongst the teammembers. They are accountable to each other and have a concertedeffort towards a collective decision.
Aswell as this the members tend to be more creative than the averagegroup. On the contrary, members of group exhibiting poor dynamicshave a general tendency of disruption. Consequently, rarely does thegroup arrives at any decision and are prone to making erroneouschoices since group members cannot explore insights effectively(Cascio, 2000).
FiveStages Of Group Development In Reference To Virtual Teams
Thisinitial stage of group development revolves around getting along withothers. The formation stage of any group requires meeting setupwhere all the relevant and interested parties share their vision andmake their commitment towards the success of the group. Thetraditional routine involves members gathering at a particular place.With a virtual team, the distance amongst members can be quite farand therefore potential members gathering at any particular spot isnot possible. The only twist for virtual team is the creation of avirtual meeting ground. The virtual meeting can only occur in theform of a particular day and time when all the potential members ofthe group log into the virtual world and simultaneously share.
Atthe formation stage rules and regulations governing the activitiesand members, are also established. In reality though, theestablishment and adherence of ground rules for virtual team membersis complicated and a little bitintricate. The lack of face-to-facemeeting setup makes it challenging for virtual team to maintain acohesive purpose. The necessity to do this, nonetheless, isapparently clear (Rigby,2013). Virtualteams should where possible hold an orientation conference wheremembers recognize the purpose of the f the group and its importance.Due to the unique glitches confronting virtual teams, it isparticularly imperative they build a strong foundation at its initialsetup.
Thisstorming stage involves getting down to the core business of thegroup breaking down any barriers. At this stage, the group isexpected to debate vigorously on the goals andexpectations of thegroup. It is important to ensure that the purpose of a virtual teamis commensurate with the anticipations of shareholders. The stormingstage involves seeking clarifications of the expectations and needsof stakeholders (Garfoot,2003).
Inorder to provide leadership, members of the virtual team can vie forad hoc positions that will establish a certain relation to othermembers. At this stage, the leader will be selected. More thanoften, in respect to virtual team, the proponent of the virtual teamconcept is unanimously accepted as a leader (Kimble and Barlow,2000).
Nevertheless,as the group progresses, conflicts and power struggle are bound toemerge. The storming stage will also involve documentation of therule. Every member is given a free will to suggest his or herdecisions as well as express his or her feelings and thoughts.Compromises are an essential at this stage in order to avoid beingsidetracked from the core mission and purpose of the virtual team.
Normingstage involves cooperation and integration. Norming stagecharacterizes fun and enjoyment among the team members. Theinteraction amongst the team players is more productive, cooperativeand easier. Identification of the responsibilities and roles of eachteam player features at this stage. It also features opencommunication, mutual respect and bonding. Team players identify thecapabilities of other members (Garfoot,2003).
Themembers are made aware of their roles and where they should look forsupport and resources. The relationship among the team players is aprogressive concept and will ultimately create a culture of trustamongst the members. The manner in which the virtual team behaves asa unit affects the functioning of the individual members.
Performingstage involves members of a group working actively towards a commongoal on an efficientand supportive basis. There exist a sense ofunity among the team players, and the group members look-out for oneanother even outside the boundaries of their scope. The performingstage epitomizes the dictum that a wholesome approach is better thansumming up the parts (Garfoot,2003).
Fora virtual team furthermore, they have synergy to accomplish theirprojects on time and have a concerted effort on accomplishing it.Itcharacterizes a unified approach towards achieving a given goal. Theteam members furthermore are strategically aware of their mandate.
Adjourningstage signifies the break-up of the group, optimistically after thetask has become a success. The fifth stage expands its scope into thelives of the team players after the project that brought themtogether. This stage produces a two-fold reaction. Some members mightexhibit feelings of insecurity while others will feel happy that theyhave finally accomplished the set targets. After the completion ofonce mandate or the elapse of time, the virtual team comes to aclosure.
Accordingto Rigby(2013), groupthinkrefers to the deterioration of rational adeptness, realism testing,and ethical judgment that emanates from group challenges andpressures. Group think ensues when individuals crave for consensusbeyond the need to come up with the right decision. Such actionsinhibit people from unleashing their full potential in solving theproblem. It is disadvantageous to the freedom of thought for teamplayers and in the long run the decision-making process.
Identityand trust are two important subjects for efficient establishment andfunctioning of virtual teams. In virtual teams, the identity elementtends to become ambiguous virtual team because spatial bordersseparate team members. In such instances, the rudimentary indicatorsof character mannerisms and social responsibilities are tougher toidentify. Contrasting the physical realm that consistsof matter,the virtual world encompasses data dissemination over space and time.There is the lack of adequate safeguarding legislation on thedistribution of data (Rigby,2013).Alongside identity, trust is similarly a central part of cooperativeendeavors. Trust is a necessary utility before the conception of anyvirtual organization. Trust unblocks communication channels betweenteam players and sustains motivation for each party involved.
Differentindividuals have varying expectations from the other party. In orderto avoid misunderstandings among the team players, virtual teams haveclear guidelines and procedures that everyone adheres to. Moreover,managers of virtual teams need to ensure compliance and adherence setstandards and communication procedures.
Virtualteams furthermore offer a new approach of handling information.Outsourcing, staff rationalization and planned redundancy signify areduction in staff level. As attrition occurs in the corporate world,valuable experiencegoes with the workers. Such has warranted theintroduction of virtual teams that ensures that retired workers stillshare pertinent knowledge on how certain operations function(Garfoot,2003).
Finally,administrative and ethnic obstacles are other serious barriers toeffective virtual teams. Lots of administrators are not comfortablewith the concept as productive management of virtual teams mayperhaps necessitate different techniques of supervision. Furthermore,administrators will not rely on recurrent visual interaction withstaffs for supervisory roles.
Virtualteams are used by most organizations to cut down on travel expenses,relocation overheads and other operational expenditures.
Virtualteams give the assurance of responsiveness, flexibility and improvedresource utilization. Virtual teams are predominantly, for companiesthat seek global presence and often subcontract their processes. Withthe introduction of various communication technologies, companies areseizing openings to make individuals work together though physicallyapart. Similar to conventional teams, virtual teams involve acollection of personalities who work autonomously towards acollective aim (Belanger and Jordon, 2000). In contrast withtraditional groups, virtual team engage themselves across space, timeand structural boundaries with their engagement supported bycommunication technologies.
Universalvirtual groups can also increase resource exploitation by leveragingspace and time to their benefit. Working simultaneouslyaids companiesefficiently to bridge the existing varied time zones, therefore,ensuring more productivity. Essentially, virtual teams are governedby relatively the same fundamental doctrines as conventional groups. The only key disparity is the manner in which the team players engagethemselves (Sadriand Condia, 2012). Asan alternative to the use of face-to-face exchange, they bank onmodern technologies, for example, phone calls, e-mails andteleconferences. Consequently, virtual teams encounter myriaddistinctive challenges at each phase of their performance anddevelopment cycle.
Nevertheless,traditional teams’ best practices tend to be similar to those usedby virtual teams. In the familiar traditional group, the parties worknext to one another, whereas members in virtual teams are indifferent locations. The coordination of duties for traditional teamsis forthright and completed by members of the team collectively. Onthe other hand, tasks under taken by virtual teams arehighly-structured. Furthermore, unlike traditional groups that relyon face-to-face communication, virtual teams use automated,electronic communication.
Furthermore,virtual teams offer opportunities of coordinating intricate businessresponsibilities across far-flung partnership of organizations.Virtual teams, therefore, allowbusinesses to synchronize andcommunicate effectively with remote team players. It, therefore,makes it easier to expand on a global scale as well as removelocation-based restrictions (Belanger and Jordon, 2000).
Avirtual team also allows companies to counter ethnic-based biasedness. Business has the chance of being responsive to their clientsthrough diversity because the composition of the virtual teamcomprises individuals from varied cultural backgrounds. The diversityin a virtual team lessens the probability of groupthink, andtherefore members are more likely to be creative and proactive givingsolutions (Sadriand Condia, 2012). Affiliatesof a virtual team can instantly respond to particular geographic andethnic requests previously overlooked or neglected by collocatedgroups.
Modern-agetechnology allows the restructuring of organizational structures soas to be at bar with the changing needs of the business environment.Virtual teams provide a new approach to solving organizationproblems. The virtual team has become the concrete model that formsthe benchmark on how staff should conduct themselves or act in orderto accomplish the set objectives. They are becoming increasinglycommon. Even though, the virtual team concept is efficient andproductive, it is difficult to make it operational at its initialstages. The secret to successfully virtual teams is ensuring thatobjectives and rules are communicated honestly and with clarity. Theresponses ought to be prompt, and the leadership of the team shouldkeep promises.
Belanger,F. and Jordon. D. (2000). Evaluation and implementation of distancelearning: technologies, tools and techniques. Hershey, PA: IdeaGroup Publishing.
Cascio,W.F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. The Academy of ManagementExecutive, August.
Garfoot,A. (2003). The reality of virtual teams. IT Training.
Kimble,C., Li, F., and Barlow, A. (2000) Effective virtual teams troughcommunities of Practice. Unpublished manuscript, Strathclyde BusinessSchool, University of trathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.
Rigby,R. (2013). How best to manage a virtual team. The Financial Times.
Sadri,G., &Condia, J. (2012). Managing the virtual world. IndustrialManagement.