A collection of workers that is chosen among two countries or more that unite to take control of some business aspects of a firm that operates globally is called a global team. These teams are in place with an aim of enhancing the organization efficiency through effectively using diversity and viewpoints. Since the inception of globalization, here has been a transition in many business concerns (Lipnack, and Stamps, p. 3). The challenges of globalization are being addressed by various organizations by reconsidering their traditional ways of working.
With the increasing global business environment teams are being built by companies which cross national borders and are inclusive of people from different countries. People from different racial backgrounds are expected to work together in either a local or multinational organizations. Many of the teams are expected to increase operational efficiencies as well as pool resources together. However, following the diversity of team members cultures there is likely to be a learning curve that is longer in establishing processes that are effective than just culturally homogeneous groups (Sridhar, p. 159).
The main challenges faced by business managers in global teams is the ability to access as well as utilize strengths of individual members and still minimize the losses incurred due to language barriers, communication difficulties, variation in work styles and many other misunderstandings. The most reported challenge is the recognition of the cultural causes of conflict and ensuring the intervention gets teams working and still makes members to be able to tackle future challenges (Davis and Khazanchi, p. 58).
Diversity in culture is more of a twinned sword an organization can use it to enhance its performance if managed well but if at some point it’s neglected it can drastically decrease the team performance. Some of the reasons as to why it should be used include (Peters, and Manz, p. 118).
Global teams face many challenges that come from differences in language, culture and geography. Some problems are faced by both domestic and global teams and they include but not limited to; dearth of required skills and knowledge, misalignment of team members, lack of clarification regarding objectives of the teams (Badrinarayanan and Arnett, p. 243) When teams fail to win trust of their members, they can easily fail. The failure can also be as a result of not breaking down some formidable barriers to communication.
Failure to win team members trust; since trust leads to cooperation and also reduces conflict, it is very important to the success of the teams that are operating globally. A rare cognitive lens is brought to the team by each member. If these cognitive ideas are harnessed well, the diversity that results from them is able to generate good synergies and generate some unique wisdom which is more superior to an individual contribution (Hunsaker and Hunsaker, p. 96).Members of the team may however be timid in revealing their real benefits to the global team if there is no trust. This can turn team diversity into a liability and not a n asset. Quality of communication, institutional context that is broad and individual characteristics are the factors that determine how much trust can be felt by people.
Communication barrier; this results from differences in culture, language and geography and they are likely to sabotage the global teams. For the geographical barriers members live in different countries and are therefore separated conflict schedules and time zones. To arrange team meetings becomes a logistical challenge (Shachaf, p. 131). In as much as technology such as use of emails and phone communication can facilitate team members working despite geographic distance it should only be a compliment and not a substitute to team meetings.
This is because familiarity and trust are well fostered through face to face meetings. Failure to see the body language of someone as well as not have an experience of some else’s reactions, the dimensions of the emotions which is always important to the success of a tem suffers a setback. For barriers in language the failure to know what someone wants to say is a great hindrance to communication among culture settings. Creation of an atmosphere which is conducive to the sharing of views and hence getting solutions that are creative, is highly lost if the language barrier problem is not dealt with (Kankanhalli, Tan, and Wei, p. 237).
Cultural barriers; in a global team members come from diversified cultures and therefore bring different norms, values and assumptions related to decision making. Generally, the culture of nations has often had ahuge impact on the characteristics of people.
Lack of unstructured communication prior to meetings global teams in most cases have meetings either online like via teleconferences or Skype. This is unlike the face to face to face meetings where team members have a chance to have a chit chat before the meeting begins. Such unstructured communications are usually positive because they lead to the organic unfolding of the processes which is necessary in all business meetings. This small talk promotes trust (Davis and Khazanchi, p. 61).
Failure to access some technology required in global teams; virtual teams can function technically well in other parts of the world. Some employees in different areas may not have access to some new communication infrastructure such as the ISDN mostly those in the rural places. Some employees fall victim of the release of software dates late or incompatible networks, network traffics and slow computers.
To create a supportive environment for global teams there, exist four design techniques as discussed below (Zigurs, p. 341).
The task objective should be clearly specified and aligned with the strategic initiatives of the organization
The task objective established should be well aligned with the initiatives of the organization in question regardless of whether the said initiatives are in line with the local responsiveness, global efficiency, and creation of knowledge or organizational learning (Badrinarayanan and Arnett, p. 243).For the team members to fully commit themselves in participating in the activities of the organization, they should be able to know how their tasks will fit well in the general objectives as well as their own priorities. Some teams have urgent deadlines to meet and also operate under short life cycles and therefore if the managers can clearly specify and define the tasks these deadlines are met with great success (Brake, p. 117).
The leaders in the organization should be known early so that they participate in the identification of tasks for the achievement of alignment across the boundaries of the organization. If basic task boundaries are set up early they can assist the organizations to start off their work with less complexity (Triandis, p. 22). Team members need to be provided with some outlines for their work descriptions by managers and these will give the workers some baseline to begin their exercises well. All new members of the team need to start their work with a small structure which they’ll use to adapt to their needs.
To avoid the confusion created by ambiguous reporting relationships, guidelines that can assist members of the team to understand where the authority of decision is and what their relationships of reporting are need to be offered (Jackson, Klobas and Gharavi, p. 219). The given boundaries are crucial regardless as to whether the team members are meant to work together for a short period of time or on part time basis. For the teams that are in existence for a short time and have tight deadlines the structures are very necessary because the teams may not have enough time to create such structures by themselves. Therefore task complexity among global teams can be managed by the organization leaders by engaging in some steps which include (Kerber and Buono, p. 8).
Teams that are globalin many contexts poses different systems of supporting the organizationwhich include work processes, budgets and policies related to human resource. A major frustration source and complexity for collaboration in the global team is the insufficient or incompatible resources (Howells, James, and Malik, pg 395-409). A resource assessment exercise should be conducted by managers before a team is formed so as to manage the said complexity. This enables them to determine the state of available resources. In case they get an imbalance in the rich and poor resources they may be forced to invest in resources before the teaming begins.
It’s necessary to invest in collaborative support systems that are global for a firm to remain relevant in this competitive world (Qureshi and Vogel, p. 28). Therefore all the managers are expected to secure many resources in advance before forming a team or clearly state how they’ll get the resources so as to save team members time of searching for the resources and instead focus on more relevant issues. This may make them frustrated and fail to execute their objectives. If there is any technology that needs to be used by the team they should be taught in advance so as to avoid the downtime of technology that is likely to distract them from their tasks (Shachaf and Hara, p. 89). The managers should allow team members to negotiate and agree on the shared norms on the means of communication. Managers can easily control the complexity of resources if they (Pihkala, Varamaki and Vesalainen, p. 335).
Most managers select team members basing on professional experience or how available they are to perform the tasks (Sridhar, p. 162). Yet good global team members are supposed to be good at working on various uncertainties, diversity of members and tackling different team situations. Employees work well in an environment where they can freely share information and get feedback. The selected members of the team should be ready to accommodate cultural differences from other team members and seek alternative approaches to various processes. They should be able to handle any uncertainties. They should show commitment to business and be good enough in using various forms of technology (Bergiel, Bergiel, and Balsmeier, p. 99).
Some self assessment tools can be used by team members to assess their ability to work in a global team. Such tools include cross cultural adaptability inventory tool. Managers should select team members who are capable of carrying out intercultural communication with ease since it’s critical to communicate effectively in the global team. Therefore, when selecting people to work in a global team, managers shouldconsider the following (Johnson, Heimann, and O’Neill, p. 24).
Managers should structure their team in a way that they convey some sense of urgency. They should however be careful so as not to assign a lot of urgency making members to feel anxious concerning their ability to achieve tasks (Lipnack, and Stamps, p. 7). However with pressure people can be pushed to finding solutions to their various differences and also agreeing so as to protect their self interests. There are different ways in which managers can communicate someurgent information to the teams such as listening to the customer who is credible into the extend of the task or coming up with a very good business idea for the organization aims (Peters, and Manz, p. 117)
To energize global teamwork managers have to understand what is more appealing to the sense of urgency to team members and exert pressure that is positive so as to carry out collaborative work. In helping team members align with their task objectives managers can use the following actions (Hertel, Geister, and Konradt, p. 69).
Issue deadlines, have the objectives connected to people’s careers as a form of motivation, and make the objectives to appear important through selecting credible sources for their endorsement.
To manage global teams effectively and steer them towards the intended goals is not an easy task. The competitive advantage of every global company is depended on their ability in coordinating the resources that are critical and the information which are usually spread in various geographical regions. Due to the increase in global business environment many teams are being built by different companies which include people from different cultures. These teams are formed with an aim of enhancing the organization’s efficiency through making effective use of the available diversities. However various challenges are faced by the organizations running global teams most of which include cultural differences, language and geographical barriers. These challenges may hinder the organizations from reaching their specific goals and it’s therefore important that strategies are put in place to deal with such challenges in case they arise.
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