communication in virtual teams BY Anna160283 Communication and leadership in Virtual Teams Communication is fundamental for personal and organizational socialization. Generally, communication is the process of transferring information, meaning, and understanding between two or more parties, and there is a huge literature on how this process can be made more efficient and effective. Communication plays the central role in the virtual team success. Communication process for face-to-face interaction is different from virtual communication.
Virtual teams typically use computer-mediated asynchronous communication. Computer-mediated synchronous communication typically allows for multiple threads or concurrent themes of conversation to occur from multiple contributors all at the same time, instead of being restricted to turn-taking (with communication blocking) as is common with synchronous face-to-face communication. (Berry, 2006). Virtual team members can express their ideas without any interruption from others.
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Computer- mediated communication has fewer social, political, or power context cues as found in face-to-face communication. Another specific characteristic for virtual communication is absence of verbal cues such as “intonation, facial expression, estures, and contextual cues that enable listeners to read (or misread) the speaker’s intent and this can aid (or hinder) understanding”. (Sproull & Kiesler, 1991; Vroman& Kovachich, 2002). Also researchers point out that in virtual communication informal or unintentional information is less likely to be shared between team members.
This can result with “work interactions being more task focused than on face-to-face teams” (Hiltz, Johnson, & Turoff, 1986; Maynard, 2006). Computer-mediated asynchronous communication is “largely unrestricted by location or time zone” (Harasim, 1990). This means that virtual communication provides a constant opportunity to discuss problems, share perspectives, get feedback, and answer questions that arise among team members without waiting for scheduled meetings. Hinds & Weisband, 2003). In another hand, the “absence of physical presence is considered to be the major drawback of virtual teams” (Cohen & Gibson, 2003). Some virtual team members may be less productive or satisfied because they feel isolated and detached from both the work and the other team members. Create social relationships in virtual teams is very difficult and takes a lot of time and effort but ack of social interactions may lead to superior task outcomes. Although virtual team members may miss the normal face-to-face interactions of the workplace or classroom, they also typically acknowledge that these more traditional social interactions are not necessary to complete their assignments”. (Berry, 2006). The success of failure of virtual team is depends on proper communication and leadership. In the articles on communication process various features of competent communication practices have been presented, ranging from information seeking and networking skills to negotiating ability.
Motivating team members and offering support are vital skills when leading a virtual team. The team members of virtual guidelines for their proper use is critical for the virtual team in order to get daily computer-mediated communication to function effectively as well as set clear goals for the future (Sivunen Anu). Other authors suggest that leaders directly manipulated technology, task, and people structures. Leaders must learn to recognize the triggers, shift their focus to improving team interaction, and effectively take action, so that team productivity can be maximized. (Thomas Dominic).
Christine Grosse add that the managers use a number of communication strategies to help them get their message across successfully with virtual teams: communicate continuously; use active listening; keep communication simple and clear; use different technologies to advantage; build relationships and trust (Christine Grosse). Authors of the article “Global virtual teams” refer that team leaders should be mindful of cultural differences, communication, and language barriers, and discrepancies in technological proficiency among team participants and how these make a difference in team effectiveness (Dube Line).
Other researchers identify six leadership practices of effective leaders of virtual teams: 1) establish and maintain trust through the use of communication technology; 2) ensure that distributed diversity is understood and appreciated; 3) manage virtual work-life cycle (meetings); 4) monitor team progress using technology; 5) enhance visibility of virtual members within the team and outside in the organization; and 6) enable individual members of the virtual team to benefit from the team. All these practices will help leaders of virtual teams to build a strong and effective virtual team (Malhotra Arvind).