Discuss about the Research Proposal of Challenges Managing Global Teams.
The topic for research proposal is ‘Challenges Managing Global Teams’. As the organizations in Australia are becoming global, they identify the necessity to make their international presence in a better way to fulfill the needs of the consumers. With the help of global teams the organizations are able to enhance their competitiveness so that they can respond to the needs and wants of their consumers instantly.
Some of the challenges confronted by the companies in managing the global teams are that they should be able to comprehend the direction, aims, responsibilities and goals of the members of the team and what does the management expects from them. Due to lack of understanding, the work would be mismanaged leading into wastage of time. So, creating clear and well defined goals for the team managing the affairs of the global scenario would lead to the alignment of the efforts of the members, thereby resulting in success of the company at the international front (Neeley, 2015).
So, Wesfarmers Limited is chosen for reviewing the challenges confronted by it while managing its affairs in the global scenario. Wesfarmers Limited is an Australian company which is headquartered at Perth, Western Australia. The business operations of the company include liquor, supermarkets, office supplies, departmental stores with its industrial divisions transacting in chemicals, energy and fertilizers, safety and industrial products and coal. It is a listed company in the Australian Stock Exchange with its share price amounting to $42.01.It is the largest employer in the private sector in Australia employing around 22,000 employees and has a shareholder base of nearly 53000. The company operates in 4 other countries apart from conducting its operations in Australia (Wesfarmers, n.d.).
According to Smal and Jõgeva (2016) the objective of this research proposal is to explore various challenges which Wesfarmers faces while managing its global teams .The project managers participating in the research are located in their home country whereas their teams are situated in the various parts of countries in which the company manages its commercial operations. The objective is to record the experiences of the project managers as well their team members which emphasizing one aspect more than the other.
Thus the aim of the study is to analyze the characteristics of managing the teams at the global scenario by Wesfarmers and the possible challenges confronted by the project managers and the team members in managing the teams. In this research topic the key words such as global teams, project management, challenges related to communication, distribution, cultural differences are stated amongst others.
The study aims at assessing the challenge faced by Wesfarmers while managing its global teams. It will analyze the various aspects such as what are the different challenges faces by the company in the international scenario and how it cope ups with those.
It further evaluates the effects of these challenges on the commercial operations of the company and the personnel involved in confrontation of those challenges. The study will determine the technologies and methods are used to neutralize the effects of these challenges (Huang, 2016).
The study is explorative in nature and its scope is to gauge the experiences of the managers and team members while facing the global challenges in their daily practices in the context of geographical and cultural diversities and technologically mediated media. It is neither intended to test nor to create any particular theory on the topic.
One of the challenges confronted by the managers while managing their global teams is communication challenge. It has been analyzed that it is one of the major challenges which the project manager confronts in the management of the international projects and their delivery. As the team comprises of various individuals who belong to different cultural back grounds and geographical locations that depend on the technologies of communication to interact with one another to some extent (Cagiltay, Bichelmeye and Akilli, 2015).
The barriers to communication which are associated with global challenges confronted by the company while conducting its operations in the international scenario are discrete geographical distribution and cultural diversity of the team mates. It results in misinterpretation of responses and lack of trust amongst them. The other challenges in this context are lack of language competence and different time zones in which the team members work (Stankiewicz and Ziemia?sk, 2015).
For example, even if all the members of the team speak English, they might not be able to speak English in the same tone. The accent of English spoken in different countries varies from each other. Japanese read English in a better way than they speak while the citizens of other countries comprehend verbal communication in a better way.
The other aspect of communication challenge is technical communication. The most common techniques are sending emails, text messages, virtual chatting, video conferencing, sharing the files etc. This may be a challenge for the team members as the written or verbal communication may be misinterpreted due to cultural issues which may have an effect on the operations of the company (Alami, 2016).
Communication challenges can be mitigated by frequent and spontaneous communication with the team members from time to time in order to neutralize the effects of geographical dispersion in the context of interpersonal and task conflicts. Thus teams will perform in a better manner with fewer deeper conversations as compared to frequent and shallow conversations. Thus commination media should be preferred according to the situation.
The virtual teams should hold face to face meetings in the starting of the project. It is the most effective manner for the creation of the social bond. However, these types of meetings can only be organized if the teams are homogenous. If they are dissimilar in nature, particularly on surface levels, then they should be avoided until a unified team is formulated (Brewer, 2015).
Another global challenge confronted by Wesfarmers is cultural difference. Culture can be defined as “the programming of mind which differentiates on group of individuals from another.” The cultural trails and variations can have an influence on all the aspects of communication i.e. interpretation, production, assumptions and interactions about the context. The proper method about the way to execute different social activities such as introduction, expression of gratitude, knowing somebody, discussing etc. can be some illustrations about cultural differences.
The cultural differences can have a great impact on what is being conversed and how it is being performed. The same word and movement can have various interpretations in various cultures. It can be assumed in different ways by the parties to the communication. Simultaneously, the notions about the manager and subordinates can be comprehended and acted upon in different ways by people belonging to different cultures. Thus, the various cultural backgrounds may not essentially create conflicts but intensify the probabilities to make them occur. The cultural diversity may lead to formulation of sub groups in the teams which can hamper the communication and contribute to conflicts. It increases the confusion, complexity and lack of clarity in the communication (Gundling, Caldwell and Cvitkovich, 2015).
There are various aspects of cultural differences such as power distance. It is the amount to which the cultures believe that power within the organization should be disbursed unequally or there should be a centralization of power. In a culture with high power distance, the age, social and professional status of the person plays a crucial role in the way he/she converses with others and expects them to converse with him/her. In the case of less power distance, such factors are not seen as crucial. In the context of global project management challenges, it may have an impact on the degree to which the team members are involved in the process related to decision making (Ferraro and Briody, 2017).
Another aspect of cultural difference is the concept of individualism and collectivism. Individualism can be defined as the society in which everybody is expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families while collectivism can be defined as the society in which individuals are grouped into strong unified group and they continue to safeguard the whole society without expecting anything from them. It helps the project managers to comprehend the values and notions of the team members which are related to the work environment and their personal and professional goals (South, 2015).
The members with the individualism approach are self-determined and like to spend time for their private lives and relish the liberty to select the method to perform the responsibilities allocated to them. Identifying the approach of the team members enhance the chance of creative communication amongst the project manager and team members (Morley, Cormican and Folan,2015).
The masculine feminine approach of individuals also influences the challenges in the global scenario. The masculine behavior tends to focus on aggressiveness and achievement of wealth while feminine approach leads to a caring attitude for others and the quality of life. In the feminist societies, the level of discrimination and biasness is lesser in degree than in societies with masculine approach. As a result, the project managers have to adjust their communication in accordance with the various approaches to acknowledge their view points.
The project managers should respond to specified necessities of various team members by learning how to tackle the teams belonging to various cultures and differences. They should apply technology which is user friendly to increase the confidence amongst the team members which is diversified and transform the challenges into prospects (Sofany, Alwadani and Alwadan, 2014).
Effect of time zone and geographical dispersion is an important matter in managing global teams. The time zones of the countries have an impact on the trading patterns and parties to the transactions executed globally. Setting the same time zone by the company makes it easier to execute the transactions because of the matching of business hours. The difference in the time zones lead to adjustment in the working hours of the business of the home country which can lead to negative impact on the productivity of the workers.
When the business expands its operations globally and operates in countries with different time zones, a communication gap exits. During the waking hour of one country and sleep time in the other, companies experience obstacles with speed and customer service due to delays in various time zones. The companies will face time crisis when they have lesser time in their business hours to accomplish a task which is interdependent (Schellwies, 2015).
A task which would consume 10-20 minutes in a domestically located company would take 24-48 hours to be completed for organizations which execute their business activities globally. The companies suffer from low work related productivity which operates in changing time zones. It leads to stress and work accidents.
In order to address the issues related to distance and time, the project managers can react and respond instantly to the necessities relating to distance of the geographically distributed team members by increasing the sentiment of closeness. It can further be resolved by implementing information which is diversified and communication technologies which contributes to successful virtual teams (Bui, 2017).
The project managers can effectively mitigate the time related stress by strictly addressing the issues quickly and effectively coordinating the tasks of the team members, so that their skills, knowledge, expertise and talents are fully utilized thereby helping in the success of the team and organizational value creation.
As per Lilian (2014) leadership challenges are another type of challenges faced by companies operating in global scenario. The application of communication media affects the capability of the leaders of the team to convey their social presence. The facial expressions, vocal modulations and gestures play an important role for leaders while communicating with their team mates. Due to their virtual presence, they face diversified challenges in dealing with them. The challenges faced by them pertain to creation of trust, maintaining it and problems arising from cultural diversity, differences and time related issues (Dossick , Homayouni and Lee ,2015).
Mutual trust lays the basis of effective leadership in managing the global challenges .It plays a crucial role in the success of the international alliances. The leaders often face ambiguity due to lack of proper knowledge about their group members. Without trust, it would be a fear of admitting weakness and mistakes amongst the team members. They would be reluctant for asking help from their colleagues and project manager which has a severe impact on the success of the project (Maranga and Sampayo,2015).
So, it becomes crucial for the team members to have a confidence to speak up and share their ideologies about the project. Since , the teams are formed for a limited period of time to accomplish a mission or task which can result in problems related to building of trust within the group and creation of unity due to the reason that such type of tasks take time to develop. It should be developed through communication since it is a powerful motivational factor which arises from the expectations of the team members that they will accomplish their commitments and work harder on behalf of the group (Denisova , 2015).
Knowledge management, trust and understanding are prerequisites to an efficient decision making while due to absence of trust, it might result in loss of the processes in the global project environments. These types of risks can be diminished by group decision support tools and video conferencing. It can further be promoted by knowledge management, building shared understanding and team trust. Thus informal face to face interactions play a crucial role in trust building. Communication during lunch and tea breaks can help in building unity and better relationships amongst the team members. Since this method of communication is not possible for global teams which are constrained by technical tools but the team should try to involve in face to face communications when the team is newly formulated. It helps in improving the processes related to trust, establishment of common goals which will lead to better productivity and increased innovation (Mockaitis, Zander and Cieri, 2015).
Thus, to conclude, it can be said that due to the development of the modern techniques of information and communication, there has been a generation of unforeseen opportunities at the macro and microeconomic levels of the organization. However at the same time, these opportunities have posed certain challenges for the organizations which operate at the global level. These technologies are not able to address the issues related to leadership and work related problems.
Hence, based on this discussion, the study reveals the key challenges faced by the project managers and team members in the context of global transactions conducted by the company. The project managers and team members have the responsibility to transform challenges into opportunities by better team coordination by filling the knowledge gaps and adopting new skills. It can further be improved by adopting the right approach of ICT application for the right job.
The theoretical contribution of this study is to improve the understanding of teams and their leaders through discussing the important challenges confronted by the managers in the global scenario and to present theoretical propositions for resolving them.
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