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Case for Analysis: Leading a Virtual Team

Johnson’s Problems

As a team leader of a virtual and multicultural team, Johnson has to provide leadership in the development of a new product, which has a short life cycle of about six weeks. This is a break away from the normal product launches that usually take three months to be launched. However, the problem lies in the team and one of the challenges for Johnson will be creating synergy within the group faster to enable them beat this deadline. Cultural diversity within the team members is the main problem factor because it has led to different communication styles. Whereas some team members prefer oral communication, others prefer written. Their response times are also different given their different geographical locations.

Secondly, there is an existing conflict among three members of this team created by disagreements on the group’s actual mission. This is threatening unity and synergy within the group. Third, the lack of synergy has led to a slower decision making processes in the past and this will be a big problem for the new product’s launch timeframe of six weeks. In addition, the team still lacks adequate structures for the promotion of unity and teamwork within the virtual team (Thomas & Peterson, 2014). For instance, the team has never had a meeting consisting of all members.

Solutions for product launch

Despite the problems mentioned, Johnson has to formulate short term solutions for the six-week launch to be carried out as planned. First, he must provide leadership that is sensitive to the different cultures (Thomas & Peterson, 2014). As a leader, effective communication and conflict resolution should be top on his priority. This will be done through the initiation of a crisis meeting among all members using virtual systems like video –conferencing. Through this meeting, the goals of the team and the part to be played by each member for the urgent matter will be discussed and rules on communication and feedback agreed by all members.

Secondly, there should be an official channel of communication to allow final feedback from all members to be relayed effectively. However other channels will still exist to allow members to consult with one another. Third, there should be a clear communication of the mission and goals of the team for the new product launch exercise. Clarity in group aims will help avoid conflicts during the six-week schedule. In addition, each member should be encouraged to set their goals for the exercise. In this way, they will be motivated to perform within the set timeframes.

The team leader should also use other forms of motivation like effective and timely feedback incentives to fasten the decision making process (Stumpf & Zeutschel, 2001). Lastly, the leader should also introduce a performance assessment tool within the web-based application used by the team. In this way, levels of responsibility and effective response for each of the team members will be sought and provided to top management.

Effective team selection

All solutions suggested in the above section are meant to avert the potential drawbacks in the team for the new product’s launch. However, in the long run, a multicultural team’s effectiveness should be determined by the modes of selection, formation and team development. In this way, the team formed is likely to not only reflect cultural and technical diversity but also able to work together for effective task or goals’ fulfillment. The first step in forming a better team is the identification of leaders. Leaders are likely to take initiative within the team in recognition of the cultural and skill gaps that may existing in a diverse and virtual team similar to the one led by Johnson.

Secondly, it is important that the team leader provides on the job training for constant leadership, skills and cultural awareness improvement within the team members. Third, during the establishment of this team, systems should be in place to encourage feedback among team members. In this way, the team leader will be able to understand each team member’s concerns and effectively address them. The team leader is also expected to consult internally and externally on the best way to compose a multicultural team given the differences in leadership styles, modes of communication and approaches to work by different team members (Stumpf & Zeutschel, 2001). In this way, the team leader is also able to choose members with blending skills and culture based on the tasks to be carried out.

Next, during the developmental stages, the leader must spell out the team’s mission and values from the onset. In this way, all team members are able to understand their purpose and any concerns may be addressed by then. It is also important to establish conflict resolution mechanisms when formulating teams so that future and potential conflicts may be effectively addressed. Lastly, the team must have structures for team building and development so that synergy and harmony is promoted always within the team (Stumpf & Zeutschel, 2001).

 

References

Stumpf, S., & Zeutschel, U. (2001). Synergy effects in multinational work groups: What we know and what we don’t know. Developing global business leaders: Policies, processes, and innovations, 175-194.

Thomas, D. C., & Peterson, M. F. (2014). Cross-Cultural Management: Essential Concepts. Third Edition. Sage.

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