The role of effort in choosing global team working strategies
Nowadays global teams have become an integral part of this world through the increase in international business activities. Big corporate organisations create teams with people from different locations, cultural backgrounds, skills and knowledge to increase productivity. Because of the distance team members have to communicate virtually by e-mail, videoconference, phone or other media tools, which saves money and time. The diversity in a global team can enhance creativity to carry out challenging tasks. But to overcome the constraints, which come a long with global teams it is clear that people have to find an effective way to work in a global team. In the following Essay I will analyse the role of effort in global teams.
First, I will discuss the influence of low effort on 4 constraints of global team working. My second point will be the effect of low effort on cultural problems team members face in a global team and finally, I will present my own evidence from the course work.
First, I would like to discuss the influence of low effort on 4 concepts discovered by Olson and Olson (2000). To be successful in global team working they have to be fulfilled.
Common ground is the basis for effective communication and high productivity in the team. For people who only use the smallest amount of effort it is really hard or impossible to build good common ground. Because global teams are not able to see each other in person they have to use modern technologies to communicate. Different kinds of media require different levels of effort to develop and maintain common ground (Clark and Brennan, 1991). For instance, videoconferences require a high amount of effort because in a global team where everyone lives in a different time zone you have to make a compromise to find time for a virtual meeting. You also have to prepare yourself for the conference because in contrast to E-mails you have to answer immediately.
Furthermore, trust plays a big role when it comes to grounding. To work successfully group members have to cultivate trust.
Therefore they have to put effort to build a good relationship with their team members. That means people have to be honest in negotiating commitments, fulfil commitments and not take advantage of other members (Cummings & Bromiley, 1996). It is really important to get to know the group members better for effective trust building. Effortlessly, it is not possible to build trust because you have to invest a lot of time to make things work.
With low effort communication through virtual meetings will be weak and therefore also the common ground. (Olson & Olson, 2000)
Second, common ground is the basis for coupling of work. Coupling explains “the extent and kind of communication required by the work […]”(Olson & Olson, 2000). There is also a difference between loose and tight coupling of work. Usually in global teams loose coupling is used because the success rate is much higher. That means the team has common ground about the procedure and the task goal. Communication is less frequent and people work interdependently. However, communication has to be more straightforward and very clear. Especially with fewer communication people have to motivate themselves to do their work and also the distance leads to less control. With low effort people are likely to struggle with their self-discipline and will not attain the task goals.
Third, for effective Collaboration Readiness it is really important to start with team meetings early. Group members should share information and learn about other member`s knowledge and skills. Therefore it is really important to invest effort in arranging early team meetings, maybe even face-to-face meetings and to share information. Sometimes it is also effective to participate in special training for new media, which can then be used for the actual work. People with low effort won`t do the important pre-work correctly which will have influence on the success of their work. (Olson & Olson, 2000)
Last, global teams can only use technologies, which are supported by the existing technical infrastructure in a company (Olson & Olson, 2000). For instance, when the team leader introduces a new communication tool for his team he should give his team members time to adapt. It is important for team members to accept technology change and motivate themselves to use the new media tool effectively. At this point personal effort is inevitable.
Low effort has also a big influence on cultural problems in global teams. As I mentioned above it is really important that the group finds a good way to communicate. When people are from different cultural backgrounds interaction can be harder. I would like to discuss the influence on low effort on two main cultural problems.
Olson and Olson (2000) explain that every culture values personal relationships with co-workers different. For example, in Asian and South European cultures it is really important to build a relationship with your team members. They spend a lot of time to get to know each other before starting their tasks. This is in contrast to Americans who are more task-focused that means they only have a short small talk before starting the work. To overcome these differences people have to put more effort in their group meaning that they have to find a compromise and talk openly about the issue. Especially when most of your group members are from a relationship oriented culture you have to make a step towards it and putting effort in building a relationship in order to be successful in global team working. (Olson and Olson, 2000)
Second, the management and authority style between different cultures can be big (Lubin, 2014). For instance, in Europe and Asia authority is taken seriously. Europeans and Asians are used to be told what to do and don`t comment on it. On the contrary in the United States employees always want to have individual freedom and discuss the task proposals with their manager. It is the leader`s responsibility to find the right way to guide his team (Olson and Olson, 2000).
In addition, different cultures use different styles of communication. For instance, Germans prefer straightforward communication and the British are non-confrontial and more polite. Especially when it comes to critics they try to formulate their message in a positive way (British Communication Style). That means the ‘German directness’ could easily offend a British person. A leader has to find the right way to combine the different communication styles in a global team in order to create an efficient communication for everyone.
Another point is that in Asian cultures respect grows with the age. That means a young team leader has to earn respect from older Asian team members first and an older team leader gets respect automatically (Pensar, 2010).