Working With A Culturally Diverse Team

Teams are small groups of people with complementary skills, who work together as a unit to achieve a common purpose for which they hold themselves collectively accountable (Wood et al. 2004). One of an important part of team composition is the diversity of team members. This essay is going to discuss the typical problems which might be encountered when working with such a functionally and culturally diverse team. Then, the second part will discuss how these problems might be overcome.

Firstly, this essay is going to discuss the typical problems which might be encountered when working with such a functionally and culturally diverse team. All teams have some problems but diverse teams encounter more conflict and take longer to develop and there are many typical problems. Firstly, diverse teams have members with diverse personalities and backgrounds, differences in sex, race and culture, and differences in values, attitudes and beliefs which may lead to different needs or mismatch needs. Different perspectives and behaviours can prevent people from seeing situations in common ways. Team members have personality conflicts and may not get along. For example, age may have an impact such as one young person feels out of place among much older team members (Peter 2009).

Due to a lack of interpersonal similarity, individuals within a team have fewer points in common to develop their mutual feeling towards each other which this is a tendency to break into smaller subgroups for example, male or young or Asian woman group. These two or more distinct smaller groups have a higher risk of conflict and lack of team trust that the team is not a team because members are unable to commit to it and posses other behaviours that undermine team effectiveness (Parkin & Bourke 2004).

Moreover, in diverse team, communication is an important problem. Diverse team takes longer to develop routines and communication norms. Since team members communicate in different languages, the potential for misunderstanding is high. Language and cultural norms, for example, about punctuality or telling bad news or different jargons may cause conflict (Wood et al. 2004). Communication inaccuracies are common and can cause stress. Dislike and mistrust can occur between members through ignorance, stereotyping or misunderstanding (Mcshane & Travaglione 2007).

Furthermore, confused goals and cluttered objectives can lead people confuses what they are supposed to do or tasks make no sense. The problem is the goals have not been translated into operating criteria, not clear and strong. In addition, bad leadership can also be a problem if leadership is unsettled and inconsistent or leader has dull vision and does not know how to lead a diverse team. Bad reward systems might be problems if people are being rewarded for the wrong things. Bad policies, bad procedures or bad handbook for employees may lead teams making bad decision or right decisions but in the wrong way (Parkin & Bourke 2004).

In addition, as cross-functional teams, the question of accountability often arises as most managers know how to hold an individual accountable, but they do not always know how to apply accountability to a team. Unresolved roles may be a problem as team members are not sure and uncertain what their job is. Also, in some teams there may be an imbalance of representation by profession, for example, a strategic planning team may have two or three accountants but no human resource professionals (Wood et al. 2004).

Furthermore, insufficient feedback and information can be a problem and performance is not measured and evaluated in diverse teams. The team is unwilling to change, as they actually know what to do but they will not do it. Therefore, leaving diverse team unmanaged, and not adapting management practices to their needs may have harmful effects, such as affect job satisfaction and disturb supervisor-subordinate or co-worker relations, which this in turn affects on the achievement of the organisation goals (Lewis 2006).

For example, the R&D groups in multinational company must deal with the potential for multiple cultural clashes among team members such as American and British members of a research team had cultural disagreements over the speed at which they worked on a project; the Americans want to go full steam ahead while the British wish to advance more slowly in case they met serious pitfalls (Parkin & Bourke 2004). Moreover, differences in cultural or social norms are a challenge for people working in diverse teams, for example, in some society, meetings will begin on time and strictly follow to the agenda; in contrary, in other society, meetings may not begin for 10 or 25 minutes after the scheduled time.

Having discussed the typical problems when working with diverse team, now this part will discuss how these problems can be overcome. There are several ways which these problems can be overcome. Firstly, to avoid confused goals, the team should have clear and strong purpose and reason why team exists. Highly cohesive teams are more effective than those with less cohesiveness (Wood et al. 2004); therefore, manager should encourage greater cohesion which may involve building a stronger sense of team identity and setting team goals. A clear and strong goal and common purpose holds team members together to ensure task performance and team satisfaction in the long term. Moreover, effective diversity management strategies can address the issues and improve individual’s job satisfaction. For example, addressing inequity in advancement and reward opportunities can improve job satisfactions (Lewis 2006).

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Furthermore, to deal with teams split into smaller groups, leaders need to restructure the work to minimise interaction among these subgroups. To solve mismatch needs, teams should ask what people want, what they expect and prefer, how they differ, valuing and use these differences to resolve personality conflicts. A component of good communication is proper feedback as teams need to be told what is what and learned from those experiences. Team members should be clearly informed what is expected of them to solve the undefined roles. Teams should choose appropriate approach to each decision and set quantifiable limits to team power and set the book procedure that making sense for everyone (Parker 2003). Teams should create a system that useful information can transfer freely to all team members; offer rewards that make teams feel happy and safe doing their job and reward teaming as well as individual behaviours, stop being untrustworthy. If the problems arise, teams should quickly find out what the problem is and they use a proper way to clear it.

Furthermore, strong leadership is important as the leader must understand the difficulties in working with a diverse team and the leader should create team environment that all team members are recognized and acknowledge the diversity within diverse teams (Robbins & Finley 2000). Leaders should pay attention to their leading and listening to those they are leading. The leader should also be able to predict conflicts within the team and when conflicts occur, the leader should be prepared to address and solve them. In addition, the leader should learn to support the team and always keep vision alive.

In addition, team roles should define and assign properly, such as not to assign roles based on culture or gender but define roles based on a team member’s abilities and personalities. For example, applying Meredith Belbin’s team role theory which is the model identifies nine team roles that are related to specific personality characteristics (Parkin & Bourke 2004). Teams should strengthen knowledge, understanding and respect the diversity in the team and creating mutual respect between team members and acknowledge member’s contributions. Positive feedback and encouragement should be given, for example, defining a culture the group to encourage teamwork and team building which let members grow together and function more cohesively (Robbins & Finley 2000).

Plus, people from different backgrounds see a problem or an opportunity from different perspectives and they usually have a broader knowledge base. Therefore, teams should be utilised through an appropriate structure and monitored through individual accountability. For example, GM Holden design teams are composed of a diverse group of people who have deep knowledge in several fields, ranging from engine design to upholstery materials (Parkin & Bourke 2004).

To conclude this essay, there are many typical problems when working with functionally and culturally diverse teams including mismatched needs, confused goals, cluttered objectives, unresolved roles, bad decision making, bad policies and procedures, personality conflicts, bad leadership, bleary vision, insufficient feedback and information, lack of team trust, and unwillingness to change. However, these problems can be overcome by, for example, setting clear and strong goals, proper feedback and communication, defined roles and accountability, developing team trust, good and strong leadership and building team cohesiveness and relationship.

Q2. What would be some of the issues for Ellen when working remotely, how could they be resolved and what lessons could be learned when managing teleworkers in Call Centres?

As we are now in globalisation and advanced digital technology world, there is an increasing a virtual team which is a new form of team operating and coordinating their interdependent activities via email, telephone and sometimes videoconference across towns, countries and time zones or simply people work at home or remotely (Verghese 2008). Firstly, this essay is going to discuss some of the issues for Ellen when working remotely. Next, the second part will discuss how these issues can be resolved. Then, the last part will discuss what lessons could be learned when managing teleworkers in Call Centres.

Firstly, this part will discuss some of the issues for Ellen when working remotely. The issues for Ellen when working remotely are similar to those problems face in a virtual team. Communication is a critical factor for any team but particularly for Ellen and virtual teams. Due to the geographical distance separating members or Ellen, Ellen faces particular risks and problems. Ellen has to rely on communication and information technologies to facilitate interaction and coordinate work or it could be said that Ellen and teams dependence on technology. Communication may be synchronous for real time or asynchronous as members respond in their own time. A key issue is the availability of modern information technology that functions effectively and participation may be inhibited if a team member is uncertain of the technology or if equipment is inadequate (Verghese 2008).

In addition, Ellen might feel she is working alone as work is hard and she can be tiring, frustrating often painful. Therefore, trust can often be missing. Employee involvement teams or Ellen may feel distrust if they have worked hard to provide a recommendation to solve a problem only to find that it is ignored. So, there are trust issues in virtual teams and Ellen because people develop trusting relationships mainly through personal interactions to build trust. Ellen is less likely to have time for open-ended conversations or informal brainstorming sessions. A lack of daily personal contact can heighten misunderstandings and undermine a team’s effectiveness. Misunderstandings in communication may occur as words read or heard in the absence of facial expression and body gestures. This lack of face-to-face interaction can results in low levels of trust, poorer quality of communication and weakened accountability. This may lead to less desirable interpersonal behaviour such as self-seeking behaviour or minimising others’ points of view (Woods et al. 2004).

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Having discussed some of the issues when working remotely, now this part will discuss how these issues can be resolved. The important thing for working remotely is trust and the best way to repair a broken bond of trust is to not let it be broken in the first place because it is very difficult to win people back the confidence. Ellen’s team and virtual team need to develop a high level of trust and work hard at maintaining it. Therefore, to build trust, clear, consistent goals are essential not only in giving a clear sense of direction, but as a basic for trust. Also, Ellen and teams should be open, fair, willing to listen, be decisive, and support all other team members, take responsibility for team actions for building trust. If something goes wrong, you don’t point fingers; you take personal responsibility for the actions of the team as a whole, our mistakes are team mistakes, and we learn from them and move on (Robbins & Finley 2000).

Moreover, Ellen and team should be sensitive to the needs to team members, so when Ellen is working remotely, she will appreciate it and trust will grow when teammates indicate that they understand the pressures, sympathize, and showing genuinely concerned about her struggles that allow her to feel comfortable with the team. Teams should give credit to team members as the idea maybe yours, but it requires the whole team to nurture and expand and apply the idea to the task. Therefore, genuine recognition for teammate accomplishments will develop trust. Ellen’s team is also cultural diverse, so team members should respect the opinions of others as not everyone sees the world the same way and the best teams can be made up of people with the diversity of perceptions (Verghese 2008). Furthermore, team leaders should empower team member to act and keep them happy.

Additionally, good leadership, defined suitable tasks for each member remotely, giving feedback, evaluating work effectiveness, ensuring they have a clear instructions for support and solve problems and effective communication will produce a healthy degree of trust for Ellen and team. Yet, better use of special software for group interaction and the presence of inspirational leadership can enhance electronic brainstorming in such teams. For example, Santos is a major Australian company that has recently introduced a virtual exploration team. The team communicates and works with the staff in Houston, Texas using state-of-the-art computer technology so that members of the team can access and work with the information on the computers of other team members. This technology will make better, faster use of company information and enable shared knowledge, quicker exploration times and reduced costs (Woods et al. 2004).

Having discussed how the issues might be resolved, now this part will discuss what lessons could be learned when managing teleworkers in Call Centres. To create an effective telework environment in call centres, the lessons that are learned when managing teleworkers in call centres is to build trust and maintain it. Team members do not have to like each other, but they have to be able to understand and rely on each other as trust is a glue of working remotely or virtual workplace (Peter 2009). Also, identifying the suitable tasks that can be performed remotely is necessary. The company’s telework policy and procedures should be made available to teleworkers and managers so that everyone uses the same rulebook as a guideline to make a decision. Meetings are a necessary in every business process, in a telework environment; co-workers gather and interact become even more important to the effectiveness and cohesiveness of the team (CBS 2003). The first meeting of the team should occur face-to-face rather than online, if this is possible as virtuality requires trust to make it work because technology on its own is not enough.

Besides, managers should set a clear goal prior to a meeting and break employee work into objectives, tasks and abilities. Managers also must ensure that the teleworker is prepared with solutions to potential obstacles and problems, options for failed links and equipment, troubleshooting checklists, and contacts for support. If there are any problems, address those issues right away to help them. Also, team manager should provide clear instructions and deadlines, regular feedback and building regular progress report to evaluate work output, so it becomes easier to keep track of teleworkers’ work output and performance (Grossman 2006). The work remotely can be disconnected easily but it can be overcome by offering a bonus or rewards for getting work completed before deadlines. Importantly, teams should ensure they all work and perform as one entity and they stay in contact frequently enough that they do not feel working alone and they feel connected to the team and the overall project (CBS 2003).

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To conclude this essay, there are some of the issues for Ellen when working remotely such as, lack of trust, communication problems, technology dependence and availability. However, these problems could be resolved by, for example, developing a high level of trust and maintaining, keep all teams happy and meet their needs, regular checking and feedback, better communication and technology and good leadership. Moreover, lessons that are learned when managing teleworkers in Call Centres are team managers and team member requires a blending of basic skills with modern management techniques, trust, good leadership and team building, measuring performance, effective communications, and expertise of technology and electronic tools.

Q3. Is team Ellen “proper” team? Why or Why not?

This essay is going to discuss whether team Ellen is ‘proper’ team and give reasons why or why not. Firstly, this essay is going to discuss what team is and what group is and the difference between these two terms. Next, the next part is going to come up with decision whether team Ellen is a proper team with the reason why or why not.

Firstly, teams can be defined as groups of two or more people with complementary skills, who work, interact with and influence each other, are mutually accountable for achieving common goals associated with organisational objectives, and perceive themselves as a social unit or entity within an organisation (Parker 2003). All teams exist to fulfil some purpose and team members are held together by their interdependence and need for collaboration to achieve common goals. All teams require some form of communication so members can coordinate and share common objectives. Team members also influence each other, although some members are more influential than others regarding the team’s goals and activities (Mcshane & Travaglione 2007). For example, football teams, all players have their skills and they work and interact with each other, they have mutually feeling towards each other for achieving the same goal which is to make a goal and win the game.

In contrast, groups are collections of two or more people who interact with one another with a unifying relationship, whereas a team is a group of people who function as a unit. Not all groups are teams as some groups are just people assembled together without any necessary interdependence or organisationally focused objective. For example, informal groups are not initiated by the organisation and usually do not perform organisational goals, instead, they exist primarily for the benefit of their members (Mcshane & Travaglione 2007). The groups you meet with for lunch and chat with in the hallway are informal groups. In each case, you associate with these groups for your own benefit. Additionally, the difference between team and group is shared commitment. Without it, groups perform as individuals; with it they become a powerful unit of collective performance team (Lewis 2006).

In my opinion, team Ellen is a proper team because Ellen team is a group of people with a high degree of interdependence, geared toward the achievement of a clear purpose or the completion of a task which is circumnavigation of the world sailing by Ellen. Team Ellen, which is diverse and cross-cultural, agree on a goal and agree to work together for that gaol.

Moreover, team Ellen also developed in four stages as teams’ development which includes forming, storming, norming and performing which similar to group development. However, the key here of team Ellen is interdependence which that’s why many groups with common goals are not teams (Mcshane & Travaglione 2007). First, the team Ellen form to work together for a common purpose. Then, storming is when team members begin to share disagreements and frustrations. Ellen’s team emphasis open communication and positive conflict, and establish team goals without destroying individuality. In the norming stage, the team set a common understanding on resolving conflict for specific problems, reaching decisions, and handling communications. In the performing stage, individual goals and roles mesh as team focus and member alignment merge into a productive unit (Wood et al. 2004).

Besides, Ellen’s team requires similar basics for teams, such as they need trust, good communication, accountability, defined roles, and good leadership. Ellen has trust in her team as she gives credit to her team members and respect the opinion and advice from her team members. Also, team members understand and sympathize when Ellen work hard remotely in the sea by herself and they are ready to help and support her when the problems arise. Also, an important basis for Ellen teamwork is sharing that is sharing one mission, sharing tasks and experiences from different people background and perception. Therefore, team Ellen is referred as cross functional and cultural team as a group of people with a clear purpose representing a variety of functions or disciplines and culture whose combined efforts are necessary for achieving the team’s purpose.

To conclude this essay, in my personal view, team Ellen is a proper team as they are a group of people who work together with a high degree of interdependence, agreed toward the achievement of a clear goal with mutually trust each other. Ellen’s team has good communication and support. Moreover, Ellen’s team members share commitment and work together in a way that all of which promote the use of skills and experiences to accomplish common goals.

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