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Virtual teams are hard to get right (Ferrazzi, 2014). To get it right, there are four must-haves: the right team, the right leadership, the right touchpoints, and the right technology. Your task is to write an essay on the following: 

  • Using the quote (above) discuss how you would apply these four “must-haves” to your team.
  • Evaluate (compare and contrast) examples of where virtual teams have worked well and where they have worked against effective outcomes.

The topic is broad enough for you to focus and build your argument how you decide. You may argue there are other necessary elements, but the expectation is that the essay will be well grounded in the literature and will ‘tell a coherent story’.  

Application of the Four Must-Haves in the Team

In a virtual team, people come from different physical locations and this helps in the expansion of the company. The employees prefer to work from home and they can enjoy flexibility in their personal life. Moreover, they also interact with other employees in the organization and thus this helps in the development of the company. The companies can also utilize the talent of the employees and it reduces the real estate cost. Team composition is the most important point of a virtual team. It is difficult to develop a virtual team without hiring the people and putting them into respective groups. In virtual team, there must be good communication skills, the ability of the team members to work independently and emotional intelligence (Saarinen 2016). The appeal for forming the virtual team must be clear within the members. The employees can manage the work in virtual team  and they can work in a flexible way, save money and thus get an opportunity to interact with other members The organizations can also utilize the talent of the employees and thus it will reduce the real cost of the company. It is necessary to create and lead a virtual team. This paper will analyze the importance of virtual teams. Moreover, virtual teams are also difficult to find and there are four must haves in a virtual team i.e. right team, right touch points, right leadership and right technology.

Right team: After the approval of the budget, the composition of the team members must be given priority. In  a virtual team there are certain things which are common such as sensitivity to cultural interest, technical savvy, adequate office space and many other characteristics. In our team, the leaders must conduct online interview using different platforms and various tools. It is important that if the leader inherits the team, he/she can use the same tool to assess or judge the weakness of the employees. There must be adequate time for the formation of the team and this will help the team to sustain in the long run. Moreover, team size also  plays an important role in the team. The effort of the team members gets reduced if they work in a responsible way within the team. Inclusive communication also plays an important role in this aspect. Sometimes , if the size of the team is excessively large, there might be certain problems and it will be difficult for the team leaders to handle such problems.

In our project, it has been found that there are sub teams within a large team and it is vital to develop certain strategies for the proper development of the team. Moreover, in our team the role of the operational team is to lead and make important decisions within the team. The individuals in the team also requires help and thus they try to achieve the financial   goals of the company. The team members must also perform the roles which are assigned to them. In our team, some members are accountable for performing the primary work. These individuals must perform the task with a  proper plan and budget for the successful implementation of the project. The team members must also understand the rewards and gains that will motivate them to work successfully in the group. In operational co-ordination, the team leader must have specific set of skills to supervise the team members and assure accountability in the process. On the other hand, the members in the support tier in our team must have direct contact with the core team members and thus provide support to the team. Moreover, the support team members also provides technical support and helps in the development of application, analytical tools, data access and development of content. There are certain issues which often occur in the sub teams of a larger team. The dispersed team members take different decisions and it is found that in certain cases that they take better cross decisions than the managers and focus on a specific business. This will help in the development of the team as well as the managers (Chastain and Nathan-Roberts 2016).

Right Team

Right Leadership: It helps in addressing the operational and executive leadership. It is necessary to foster trust among the employees and this starts with empathy and respect. The leaders must also encourage the team members and thus this will motivate them to work in the group. The organization does not criticize the concept of dispersed team members who are beyond the physical command control of the business environment. The stronger the command control culture, the more difficult will be the virtual teams to be successful(Ferrazzi 2014) . Moreover, in our team open dialogue is encouraged  among the team members. It  helps to build trust among the employees and this is considered as an important element for the success of virtual team.  It is found that in our team , there is no fear or mistrust among the employees because there is no such secrecy among them. This also helps in assessing the security and thus helps in building trust among the members (Bhat et al. 2014).

Right Touch Points: It becomes difficult for a team leader to judge or keep a track of the employees in our team. In such cases, face-to-face meeting becomes difficult  and meeting is generally held through video-conferencing. There are many web-based tools which are used to access the varied platforms (Ferrazzi 2014). There are certain formal events, which reduces the stress of virtual teamwork. Online video conferences with the team members and the sponsoring executives help in carrying out the roles and the core purpose of the team in a proper way. It is also important to set specific timelines and goals in a virtual team (Blomström and Stenkil 2015). The stakeholders must also form an event and use different online conferencing modules to communicate among the team members. It is important to verify the task assignments, clearly goals and frame the time line accordingly. Moreover, the team leader must also co-ordinate with the plans and conduct daily and weekly team meetings. There must also be formal benchmark review sessions to check that the timeline, budget, expectations and goals are followed and the team is trying to achieve or focus on them (Lockwood and Song 2016). The sessions that are conducted in the virtual team are recorded and archived. Before signing off the project, it is necessary to conduct live prototype demonstration  and the team will be accountable for the completion of the assigned tasks. In this case, the team leader is accountable to the different executives and thus it is the responsibility of the team leader to keep a check on it (Batarseh et al. 2017).

Right Technology: It has been found that due to the poor level of technology, the top most leaders or the employees in our team cannot perform well. This is because our team is globally dispersed and it becomes difficult to keep a track of the team members without proper technology. In this case, the employees must be willing to do collaborative work and they must also avoid duplication from other teams (Ferrazzi 2014). It is necessary to use web based platform which will help in sharing the document, maintain office productivity, arranging discussion forums and thus try to integrate the necessary legacy. There are many dashboards and analytic tools in a virtual team and it becomes easier to assemble the dashboards and the different business intelligence tools in a virtual workplace. Moreover, major emphasis must also be given on the web standards which are regarded as an important component of data-driven creation of content.

Right Leadership

In our team, it has been found that the application of the face-to-face leadership theories can create problem and leadership will have different effect on the team members. For example, task related  leadership  and socio-emotional leadership has evolved due to transactional and transformational leadership approach. Transformational leadership is present because of linguistic diversity among the team members rather that inspirational and appealing personality (Dulebohn and Hoch 2017). The team leaders in our team demonstrates socio-emotional skills which will encourage the members to know each other and save the valuable time of the leaders because the method is considered to be much time-consuming than the other. Although the virtual team leaders in our team are visible online throughout the working hours but it becomes difficult for them to keep a track of the employees in the entire process. According to the social presence theory and media richness theory, lack of social cues in virtual teams may create certain challenges for the team leaders. Moreover, there might be difficulty in the interaction process and it is vital to develop defensive interaction style rather than constructive interaction style which is common in face-to-face interaction among the team members.  On the other hand, according to the theory of social information processing, it has been found that virtual relationships require much more time than face-to-face interactions (Coleman 2016).

According to the interpersonal theory of attribution, there might be negative interactions among the team members and this may be based on minimal information or over-reliance among the members. It can also be stated that situational theory of leadership considers the influence of team members in a different way. The team members challenge the leader because they have to perform all the duties efficiently, managing the distance from the team. The capabilities of leadership at different stages of the team cycle have distinct leadership requirements and there must be further research on how to carry the responsibility of leadership in a proper way (Cimatti 2016). Leadership capabilities at various stages of the team cycle must have distinct characteristics.  Moreover, it is the responsibility of  a virtual leader to ensure that the organization fulfill the goals and maintains team cohesion. The team leader must also keep an eye that the individual needs of the employees are fulfilled and they feel motivated to work as a part of the team (Einola 2017). A virtual team leader must also find out new ways of working and they must work harder to gain the attention of the team members to keep them influenced and motivated. There must be proper interaction among the team members. Although interaction is difficult, but the members must co-ordinate with each other for the smooth functioning of the organization (Arnold et al. 2016).

It can be said that in a virtual team there must be flexibility in innovation with few constraints. Examples can be cited of different virtual teams from different countries who are carrying out the work successfully. Basecamp, a company headquartered in Chicago has started its operation in 1999 with four employees. According to the report of 2017, the company has more than 50 employees where people from different location are engaged in their company. Moreover, the company also provides attractive benefits and incentives to the employees and thus they feel motivated to work for the development of the company (Basecamp.com 2017). Another company named Buffer is also increasing its market share. The main aim of the company is it helps to manage tweets, LinkedIn updates, Facebook posts during the optimal times of the years. Buffer has more than 25 employees spared across different countries in the world. The team members of Buffer are more productive and everyone feels interested to work as a part of the group. Moreover, the team members of Buffer consists of diverse group of people from different cultures and background (Buffer.com 2017) .

Right Touch Points

Zapier, an emerging virtual company started in 2011. The company has grown from part time projects of three college students. Presently, the company has more than 20 employees who are working with Zapier. The company works on different apps for the clients and they also like to share the digital tools that are used to keep the team productive (Zapier.com 2017). Batchbook, also helps the businessmen to streamline the sale processes and connect the customers. The CRM company also uses virtual tools and on-location teams. The workforce of Batchbook also helped in building a supportive team and thus it has led to the development of the company. The team leaders to Batch book has claimed that it becomes difficult for them to connect with employees from different locations and co-ordinate with them accordingly (Batchbook.com 2017). Moreover, meetings are held every week to keep a track of the performance of the employees. IBM was also successful through the formation of virtual teams. The company employed more than 20,000 people from different countries and thus it was a major challenge for the company to manage the people from different time zones. The use of collaborative software has helped the employees to work in collaboration with each other and thus enhance communication among the team members (IBM Business Consulting Service 2017).

There are certain companies where virtual teams could not bring effective outcomes for the development of the company. A leader in a virtual team must carry out his/her responsibilities in  a proper way. Moreover, the leader must also be sensitive of the cultural factors and the interpersonal environment that will reduce the limitation of distance within the team. The company must select such a team leader who has the necessary interpersonal as well as technical skills which can be used effectively in a virtual environment. The goals and priorities must be clear in the mind of the leader and this will make the enhance the performance of the team members (Chriestenson 2016). It is also necessary that the team leader must conduct a kick off meeting to outline the goals of the team and to build relationships with people. The team leader must set the goals and the direction in which the team is interested to go. The high performance virtual teams must establish the roles clearly and continuously reassess and ensure clarity with the passage of time. Moreover, clarifying the accountabilities and outlining the task which is allocated to different team members also helps in reducing inefficiency and delay in a  virtual team. It has been found that in certain companies the creation of study handbook will provide background to different team members and thus clearly outline the contribution of each person in the team (Gupta 2015).

Lack of co-operation among the team members  also fails to create an atmosphere of collaboration within the team. Moreover, due to lack of face-to-face interaction among the team members in a virtual team, trust and relationships cannot be established in the group. An example where virtual team failed can be cited to Onpoint’s study i.e. known as Team Innovate.  More than two-third of the team members were located outside Philadelphia and the remaining employees were scattered in different locations. The team that was based in Philadelphia has developed stronger relationship and bonding with the people (Onpointconsultingllc.com 2017). On the other hand, it was quite natural that the other members of the country who worked with the team could not develop stronger relationship. Moreover, this has also led to the formation of different sub-groups within the team. There were several team members in the group who worked dedicatedly and they did not inform the other members. The high performing members of Onpoint were able to handle different conflicts and thus equipped with different tools to work in the team. However, this has demotivated the members who could not perform better. It was also difficult for the team leaders to assess the performance of the individual team members because it was difficult to meet them as they belonged to different countries. Moreover, the team leaders of OnPoint was not proactive and they did not take proper step to motivate the employees. They were also unable to create a high-touch environment within the team. Lack of engagement, improper communication and lack of attention during virtual meetings are the hindrance of high-touch environment(Onpointconsultingllc.com 2017). The virtual teams who invest in face-to-face meetings once or twice during a year cannot achieve better results and thus this will also result in lower profitability (Flammia et al. 2016).

Right Technology

Conclusion and Recommendation

Thus, it can be said that the companies must also use instant messaging tools to increase communication within the team members. It is also advisable to use electronic bulletins boards to make the employees aware of their responsibilities and goals. The companies will realize the importance of business objectives if the leaders effectively manage the team members. The team leaders must try to stay connected with the team members that are considered as an effective aspect of virtual team. It is also important to create cross-cultural awareness and thus this will help in creation of unity and collaboration within the team members. Moreover, when a virtual team is working on a larger project, each employee must work on different areas which will help in the development of the project and thus it will also lead to proper co-ordination and communication within the team members. Therefore, it can be said that virtual team benefits both sides of a business and enhances the work culture in a team.

References

Arnold, M.C., Hannan, R.L. and Tafkov, I., 2016. Mutual Monitoring and Team Member Communication in Teams.

Basecamp.com 2017. Basecamp. [online] Available at: https://basecamp.com/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

Batarseh, F.S., Usher, J.M. and Daspit, J.J., 2017. Collaboration capability in virtual teams: examining the influence on diversity and innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 21(04), p.1750034.

Batchbook.com 2017. Batchbook [online] Available at: https://batchbook.com/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

Bhat, S.K., Pande, N. and Ahuja, V., 2014. Factors Impacting Effectiveness in Virtual Teams. International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking (IJVCSN), 6(3), pp.42-52.

Blomström, E. and Stenkil, M., 2015. How can international virtual teams benefit from diversity management?.

Buffer.com 2017. How We Connect, Celebrate and Have Fun As a Remote Team. [online] Available at: https://open.buffer.com/remote-team-connect/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

Chastain, J.W. and Nathan-Roberts, D., 2016, September. Recommendations for Virtual Teamwork Based on Human Factors Research. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 1193-1197). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Chriestenson, D., 2016. A Phenomenological Inquiry Into The Perceptions Of E-Leaders On Virtual Team Leadership.

Cimatti, B., 2016. Definition, development, assessment of soft skills and their role for the quality of organizations and enterprises. International Journal for Quality Research, 10(1).

Coleman, B., 2016. The Many Faces of a Virtual Team: A Review of Research Done on Individual Member Input to Virtual Teams.

Dulebohn, J.H. and Hoch, J.E., 2017. Virtual teams in organizations.

Einola, K., 2017. Making Sense of Successful Global Teams.

Ferrazzi, K., 2014. Getting virtual teams right. Harvard Business Review, 92(12), pp.120-123.

Flammia, M., Cleary, Y. and Slattery, D.M., 2016. Virtual teams in higher education: a handbook for students and teachers. IAP.

Gupta, H., 2015. Social media usage and its effect on virtual team dynamics: a Transactive Memory System approach.

IBM Business Consulting Service 2017. [ebook] IBM, pp.1-4. Available at: https://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/imc/pdf/g510-3949-trust-building.pdf [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

Lockwood, J. and Song, Y., 2016. Understanding Each Other: Strategies for Accommodation in a Virtual Business Team Project Based in China. International Journal of Business Communication, p.2329488416675841.

Onpointconsultingllc.com 2017. Onpointconsulting. [online] Available at: https://www.onpointconsultingllc.com/onpoint-consulting-llc-about-us [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

Saarinen, J., 2016. Managing global virtual teams.

Zapier.com 2017. Zapier. [online] Available at: https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].

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