Using IT to support managers
In How to Manage More Effectively, Dean and Mary Tjosvold (2007) reveal that the top managements have responsibility to define and empower policies, to make decisions and solve problems while employees’ main responsibility is to do their assigned tasks. Their statement suggests managements and employees have to maintain closed relationship in order to communicate effectively and accomplish the corporate objective appropriately. However, not all managements have the quality of being excellent leaders.
This is because being a leader takes more than the ability to bring the company he leads into good financial performance but also the ability to create joyful workplace that encourages employees to work better. The challenge in managing competitive workplace is getting fiercer nowadays, especially due to the globalization issues that encourage companies to expand their presence to other parts of the world. Globalization is almost a common issue within the business world today.
Because of the undeniable benefits and necessity of going abroad, so many large and even small and medium enterprises (SME) have broaden their business range to reach the foreign markets. In order to achieve the superior results, the company needs developing improved teamwork so that each individual in the company has positive contribution to the
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Concerning the teamwork development, this paper will discuss about the role of information technology to help managers in carrying out their role in coordinating with their subordinates in order to build superior team and building effective teamwork. 2. Research Statement Information technology has an important role in supporting any activities in profit-oriented and not-for-profit organizations. Moreover, information technology also provides benefits managers as it enhance the coordination with their subordinates.
Concerning the significant roles of information technology in helping managers to accomplish their tasks and developing teamwork, therefore the research statement or question is “As teamwork provides unquestioned benefits for business, how information technology helps managers in maintaining a sustainable teamwork in order to strengthen the company’s competitive advantage? ” I choose this research question since it might be completely different from others that may focus only on discussing the information technology without providing the underlyinig reasons regarding the benefits of teamwork.
Therefore, instead of elaborating partial discussion on the issue, I decide to discuss the larger scale of information technology and its benefits for managers in making decisions through teamwork. For this reason, in the literature review, I employ several sources ranging from academic journals, magazines, online materials, and books that relate to the issue of information technology at work. 3. Role of a Manager According to Mintzberg (1973), there are three basic roles of managers in corporations as following:
a) Decisional roles. It consists of entrepreneurial capabilities, abilities to handle disturbances, capability to allocate corporate’ resources, becoming good negotiators b) Interpersonal roles. It consists of being a role model, leader and liaison; and c) Informational roles. It consists of being a supervisor, disseminator and spokesperson of the company. These roles are directed outside as well as inside the organization. This entire roles blend together to form the definition of a manager.
In the globalization context, manager has additional challenges such as building competitive advantage, maintaining ethical standards within diverse culture, managing diverse workforce, utilizing new information technologies, and facing global-level competitors. 4. Advantage of Teamwork In order to deal with the above challenges, companies required staffs with distinct qualities; people who can endure the process and help the company to build their new ‘structure’ within foreign markets.
For the very least, this team of pioneers must consist of people with persistence, an interest in international matters, bi -or multi- lingual language capabilities, cultural empathy, good writing and speaking abilities, and pays attention to details (Delaney, 2002). If we find people with most of those qualities, than we have found the raw material of building a strong globalize team. Each member in a team must posses the proper technical expertise, problem solving and decision making skills, and interpersonal skills.
Members who lack some of these capabilities can be trained to obtain the skills (Guevara, 2003). The principles are to encourage teams to make independent decision about their work for continuous improvement trough learning, to improve communication throughout the organization, to build trust between management and employees, to focus on improving the quality of product and services, and to create a learning environment among employee for future contribution to company’s performance (Guevara, 2003). 5. Use of Information Technology to Support Teamwork
In the current settings of business cooperation, members of the same work group might be scattered in different continents, nevertheless they need to be able to share information instantly without time consuming protocols. For decades now, these have been made available by information technology. Information technology helps managers coordinate swiftly with their team members, and even having interactive discussions by means of the IT software. It is quite to tempting to associate “right technologies” with sophisticated new machines, robots, or any interactive holographic assistants.
It turns out that the right technologies for business might be merely a desktop computer or simply a digital voice recorder, depending on the type of business we compete. In large corporations that have hundreds or thousands of employees, communications become serious issue since they rarely communicate one another due to they have full activity. Under such circumstances, the use of telecommunication technology is beneficial to help employees at a business to alleviate communication barriers among managements and employees.
One of the technologies that might help the business in improving the effectiveness of communication is the Internet. The presence of Information technology has become increasingly important due to the presence of revolutionary concepts in teamwork management known as systems thinking and learning organizations. Within the systems thinking concept and organizational learning concepts, all members of an organization is demanded to extract information from their environment and then pass it into the system so that an organization can learn as a group.
Under these concepts, IT has a vital role because it functions as the bridge that connected all team members and decision makers. In addition, the use of IT in organization is also inline with the ideas from Zhuang and Lederer (2006) stating that the use of appropriate resources will foster organizational success. It includes e-commerce technology resources that form the company’s competitiveness. In addition, Information Technology has undeniable benefits in creating effective teamwork (Byrd and Davidson, 2006).
An example of implementing information technology for teamwork is by initially arranging a preliminary survey on information and communications systems by internal surveyor team to obtain insight and gather information regarding required supports and feedbacks from employees (SIFA, 2008). 5. 1 Corporate Portal: Knowledge Sharing In order to realize the teamwork arrangement, a corporation may develop specific portal at which each employee can write their experience and idea. On the other hand, other employees in the corporation may access the shared knowledge to gain previous experience (JANSEN, BACH, and OSTERLE, 2000).
In a specific corporate portal, a company may also provide instant messaging, video conferencing, and blog features in order to enable employees share their experience and suggestions that would benefit the entire organizations. Figure 1 Corporations Portal Source: JANSEN, BACH, and OSTERLE, 2000 In addition to providing the online portal that can be accessible by member of a team, corporations can encourage their managers to employ e-learning website that is beneficial for their sub ordinates.
This provision of e-learning application is in line with the managers’ role, the Informational roles, where managers are driven to share information with their sub ordinates and to improve their skills if the managers find particular staffs need additional skill and knowledge to perform their work much better. In this situation, the use of computer-based training (CBT), which is also known as web-based training (WBT), can be suitable tools that managers have to encourage their sub ordinates in enhancing their skills. In this system, educational materials are placed in a server that is accessible by member of team in an organization anytime.
Figure 2 E-Learning Scheme Source: NEC Corporation, 2007 5. 2 Video Conferencing Another example of technology that supports the teamwork program is video conferencing where members of teams can meet in virtual room to share their ideas at the same time by connecting their premises to a network. Actually, in today’s networked system, video conference can be performed no only through personal computers (PCs) as shown in the figure 3 but also can be done by using mobile devices (hand phones or PDAs) by using the latest third generation (3G) mobile phones technology.
Figure 3 Video Conference Source: WiredRed Software, 2005 5. 3 Mobile Devices In addition to the use of desktop or laptop computers, teams can employ mobile handsets to perform communication over the web. It is possible since most mobile handsets are equipped with Windows Mobile application that enables the handset to perform mobile PC. In order to support the implementation of mobile office, each employee should install Wireless VPN (virtual private network) like produced by NetMotion Wireless that supports Windows Mobile 5.
0 devices (WindowsForDevices. com, 2006). By using VPN connection, an employee that uses mobile handsets can check e-mails, enter personal note in the knowledge-sharing portal, and browse into corporate data as if he use their desktop PCs. Figure 4 Integration of mobile devices in a network Source: Citrix Systems, 2008 6 Conclusion Concerning the teamwork development, this paper has elaborated the role of information technology in providing managers a tool that helps them to carry out their role in coordinating with their subordinates more effectively.
In addition, information technology also helps to build superior team and building effective teamwork. In line with the need to obtain an effective teamwork, Information Technology appears to offer many kinds of technology that is suitable for managers in coordinating with their cub ordinates. Among the recent technology, video conference, knowledge-sharing portals, mobile VPN are common technology that can help manager to fulfil their needs.