The Virtual Teams
Virtual teams give an opportunity for organisations to bring together critical contributors who might not otherwise be able to work together due to time, travel, and cost restrictions. Although many virtual teams are created to resolve a particular problem or fulfill a specific task, disbanding upon the task completion (Bell and Kozlowski, 2002), some teams are envisioned as a long-term, permanent part of the corporate structure.
According to the latter case, team members are expected to accomplish multiple roles, problem-solving and implementing solutions with colleagues, some of whom they had never met in person. According to Solomon (2002) “[virtual] teams need tools – as well as leaders – to create shared knowledge or shared vision. When a team has a meeting, whether a teleconference, videoconference, or face-to-face encounter, the leader must be explicit about goals. ”
From the managerial perspective, thorough approach towards the formulation of objectives and distribution of roles within virtual team is required. Main strategic role in formulation of goals and roles belongs to a team leader, particularly in: (1) quick establishment of the team credibility at the executive level, and (2) selection of strategies and tactics for fulfilling its mandate and building credibility throughout the organisation with the
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Other important steps in objectives and role forming include: (1) creation of straw proposals, (2) distribution of proposals to team members, (3) feedback evaluation and their synthesis into written documents, which are accessible to all team members. From the critical standpoint, virtual team development requires collaboration and discipline approach, particularly during early stages when goals and roles settings take place (Furst et al. , 2004).
Documents developed through proposals and discussions include: (1) a description of the external business and internal company’s environment (Pickering & King, 1995); (2) team’s statement of the purpose, objectives, and projects; (3) job descriptions and responsibilities within the departments if any (e. g. marketing manager, HR manager, or project manager); and (4) a list of team working procedures, forms of communication, performance management procedures, team working agreements and other operating details. Motivation and Urgency
The importance process of motivation lies in the scope of virtual team’s leader role. Although practically the nature of virtual team implies the deployment of self-motivated team members, some necessary motivational techniques should be applied. Simultaneously, the problem of urgency is that a supervisor or leader cannot easily monitor what members are doing or identify problems, except when they report in. Nor, in many cases, can leader necessarily dictate when they spend time on your project and on other people’s. Motivation in a virtual team has remote character.
Practically, it is very easy to forget people are there and to allow them to feel neglected or uninformed. The effective virtual team leader invests time and effort in keeping contact, ensuring that at least some of the communication is relationship building rather than just transactional. Primarily, team leader should create the climate, where learning, self-motivation and sense of mutual responsibility becomes the “currency” of the team – by demonstrating good practice him/herself and by encouraging adequate behaviours in others (Clutterbuck D. et al. 1998).
In terms of urgency, the team leader needs to combine a very high level of clarity of instruction and expectation with a review process that takes into account the very specific context in which each member is operating. In addition to assessing performance against absolute targets, the leader needs to help people understand how they are (or are not) contributing to helping their virtual team colleagues deliver against team deadlines and goals. This will often mean gathering data from team members about each other – a tricky task, if people are to be both honest and non-defensive.