A virtual team is a group of business professionals who pursue shared objectives while based at distant worksites. To communicate, they rely heavily on electronic, or "virtual," media.
Such teams usually are "global" in that members are not only distant from one another but also come from different cultures. Our training enables such teams to attain high performance.
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Objectives of GROVEWELL's Team Process Facilitation
GROVEWELL's objectives for the internal development and increased productivity & performance of a virtual or remote team are...
- To enable the team to clarify roles, address interpersonal conflict issues, develop protocols for optimal communication, and resolve other barriers to productivity;
- To enable the team to work strategically & effectively with stakeholders (clients, other teams, peers, customers), developing strategies and protocols as needed;
- To enable members to develop their own "Third Way" of operating, distinct from each team member's national culture, thus constructing a unique team culture;
- To coach and advise the team leader in order to identify and develop the competencies he or she needs to guide this team to everhigher team performance.
GROVEWELL's process facilitation focuses exclusively on the real-time, real-life issues and challenges of the team with which we are working. We use neither off-the-shelf materials nor generic "team-building exercises." The content and process of our work addresses the actual and emerging issues and challenges that this team is encountering.
Research Findings on Global Virtual Teams
Global virtual teams have become indispensable. When they fall short of their objectives, huge costs result, including lost opportunity costs. Research on global virtual teams reveals that...
- they face significantly greater hurdles than colocated teams;
- a high percentage of such teams fail to attain their objectives;
- human relationship breakdowns and lack of trust are key problems;
- electronic communication actually helps to create the lack of trust and relationship breakdowns;
- one type of global virtual team does well: one in which members consciously focus not only on their tasks, but also on their relationships.
GROVEWELL's experience facilitating global virtual teams shows that the reasons for failure are:
- in general, the difficulties of building trusting relationships across the boundaries of distance, time zones, and cultures;
- specifically, the complications arising from constant use of electronic means of communication, which team leaders and members mistakenly believe will bridge the three boundaries.
Comprehensive Virtual Team Facilitation
Benefits characteristic of our services include...
- Trust among team members increases; productive collaboration is enhanced.
- The effectiveness of and respect for the team leader visibly improve.
- Value chain frictions and incidents of human error are greatly reduced.
- Cross-cultural conflicts gradually transform into intercultural synergy.
- Electronic communication media are used wisely and effectively.
- Productivity increases; quality improves; ontime delivery becomes normative.
- The profit-oriented motives for the team's creation come to be consistently realized.
Interventions characteristic of our services include...
- Review the team's work processes for effectiveness with respect to the business model.
- Create a comprehensive stakeholder map including analysis and strategies for working effectively with the team's internal and external stakeholders.
- Improve client- and value-chain relationships, paying careful attention to national/cultural differences.
- Develop a strategic plan, as needed, including clarifying appropriate roles and goals for the various nations and cultures with which the team comes into contact.
- Clarify roles and accountabilities in the context of the business mission and work process.
- Determine and practice a decision-making style effective for this team; adjust it as needed.
- When culturally and otherwise appropriate, facilitate open addressing of interpersonal conflicts within the team.
- Develop a structured process so that team members can understand and learn to leverage individual and cultural styles of processing information, solving problems, making decisions, and communicating day-to-day with clarity.
- Guide the making of judicious choices among the various team communications media: face-to-face, phone calls, voicemail, e-mail, tele- and videoconferencing, and posted mail.
- Facilitate development of, and consensus around, a unique set of team operating values.
- Train in ways of giving feedback and managing performance within and across cultures.
GROVEWELL is prepared to provide other services for global virtual teams, such as group training for an organization's leaders and sponsors of such teams.