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Forming A Virtual Team Essay

1244 words - 5 pages

One of the most difficult parts of beginning a team project is the first few days. There is a "feeling out" period between the members, where no one is willing to risk offending the others on the team. This is especially true in teams where there is no clearly defined leadership. No one wants to step forward to become the "Taskmaster" of the group. This is probably most likely due to our innate desire to be liked by others. Unfortunately in today's society, the one in charge is the easy one for the masses to rally against. This leads to the hesitancy for someone to take charge.However, in a virtual team, it is even more important for a clear leader to be assigned or to emerge. When you cannot see each other face to face, there needs to be some clear direction right from the start to focus the group towards the task at hand. Otherwise you begin to see what our team is currently experiencing, a good deal of dancing around the task, with suggestions put out there for consensus vote. However, without a clear leader who will gather the votes and codify them into the task?When a small team with unfamiliar members begins to form, it is almost inevitable that someone comes up with the idea of "leadership by consensus." This may seems feasible because of the small numbers; however leadership by consensus does not work when there is a task and a deadline to meet, especially when the team members are constantly seeking the approval of each other. A clear leader must be assigned in order to ensure each individual is accountable to the team and their assignments.Our background reading gave us several stages to a problem solving process for virtual teams, along with several work design models. It is stated in the readings that these phases will often overlap each other. However there is an additional stage that has not been mentioned, Forming the Team. This phase is mentioned by Jill Nemiro in her book, "Creativity in Virtual Teams: Key Components for Success", as a development period, where "verification, acceptance finding, and response validation and communication also occur." This is the phase when the team first comes together and hashes out their interactions and work assignments. In an established organization with clearly assigned functional areas, the work assignments may be clear: manager, engineer, finance, logistics, etc. However for a virtual team this may not be as clear, and in our case where members are thrown together with no assigned leadership or functional roles it is even more unclear. In fact, in her book, Nemiro suggests that "for virtual teams these same skills and processes may be more difficult to establish and take more time and effort to develop than in face-to-face teams." This is due to the lack of experience with each other. Our team is still stuck in the forming phase. We are still dancing around each other not willing to offend another. There are suggestions for how we will tackle the problem at hand, but no clear decisiveness...

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