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Communication and Technology in a Virtual Team

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RUNNING HEAD: COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY CASE STUDY

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Introduction
I have been tasked with facilitating the launch of a virtual team that will collaborate on an important and highly confidential project. The team will be made up of primarily senior leaders, managers and directors coming from all major business units of the organization. The orientation meeting will occur in two weeks and will present the finished outcomes to the executive team approximately 90 days following the orientation. My current focus is to provide the team with the guidance necessary to assist with the launch, specifically in two areas. I will be offering recommendations for the team charter, specifically focusing on ground rules, setting expectations and conflict resolution within the team and leadership. The second focus will be on recommendations for technology to assist in communication and collaboration for this national team. We will assess both synchronous and asynchronous technologies as well as recommendations for technology that will assist in brainstorming and problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Team Charter Recommendations
A fully functional team spanning across the United States of America can be a difficult process to maintain. It is vital that we as a team come together to create and honor a specific charter that will be devoted to our team. While we will still be working under the main Mission
Statement of our company, it is important for us to focus on our actions and team work individually. “The process of creating this document will build team spirit and enthusiasm for the team’s goals, enabling every member to see the bigger picture and suggest ways to apply it to their everyday work. The Team Charter can be the vital link between the vision of the organization and the daily work of getting things done.” (Trillium Teams, n,d.)

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For the purpose of building the team charter, I will begin to explore all of the working parts that make up a team charter and offer my recommendations for each piece. The beginning piece of the Team Charter will be the team Mission Statement as well as the team values, the team goals, the rules of communication as well as scope of the team and finally identifying the team. It is important to note that all pieces play an equal part in making this team a success, more attention will be paid to areas of specific focus, the team values where we will cover recommended ground rules as well as the rules and norms of communication within the team. In this area, we will cover recommendations for setting expectations, conflict resolution and addressing leadership concerns.
The first piece of the Team Charter should always be a team Mission Statement. Why does this team exist? What is the problem that we are facing and what are we going to do about it? Ensuring that the team Mission Statement does fall in line with the Mission Statement of the organization must remain an important focus.
The next piece of the charter will be Team Values. The basics of the team values are the approach that the team takes in how they conduct business and also how they treat others.
Basically, this is where we set the expectations of the team. The recommendations that I offer for this is to focus on the core values of our organizations. We must offer a supportive environment, showing respect for each team member. We only allow constructive criticism with detailed feedback for each team members ideas. We as a team will be seeking only peak performance. There is no room for mediocrity. Other ground rules that we will have to follow is the completion of all projects as assigned by deadlines, addressing any concerns that you may have in a timely manner so as not to put your teammates at risk for not meeting their deadlines.
We will ensure that all team members have a full understanding of all of the processes and

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assignments with the expectation that if there is a problem or a question, they are responsible for the clarification. The most important part of the team values must be remaining a culture of personal and professional integrity. Finally, it is important for the team to understand any potential obstacles and create a plan to address them head on. (Brown, n,d)
While we are on the topic of setting expectations, the next piece of the charter runs hand and hand with team values. The team norms and communication is vital to be addressed. If you noticed above, we had a brief discussion on maintaining integrity and personal respect.
However, we need to be realistic that not everyone is going to agree all of the times. We need to have an understanding of how we are going to communicate any issues that may arise during our tenure as a group. Conflict is inevitable, and if handled correctly can actually be highly beneficial to the team. “Team members should be educated in the basics of the mediation process. With this foundational knowledge the team can effectively work through conflicts as they arise.” (Grant, 2009) There are various sources of conflict that can arise within a team, majority of the team it is a personality conflict between members of the team. In order to have successful conflict resolution, there needs to be a clear understanding of what the conflict is and what is causing the conflict. The key to effective conflict resolution is to have open and respectful communication. As long as there is respectful communication then a renewal of what the common goal is becomes necessary. Whoever is experiencing the conflict needs to have the understanding that at times there needs to be compromise in order to work together to achieve the common goal. Communication is key. “Being able to trust and communicate through the discussion without attacking or withdrawing is critical to successful resolution. These qualities need to be exhibited by both the facilitator, and team members.” (Grant, 2009) This is also important for any issues that the team may be having with the leadership. There needs to be a

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trust that the teams have in each other but also in their leadership. If a leader violates that trust, it can destroy a team. As long as all members of the team are following respectful dialogue, and constructive feedback, then the general rules of conflict resolution can also apply to issues with leadership. The next part of the charter is the Team Goals. Listing off the team goals are an important part of the charter because it is a constant check off for what the team is achieving. It is also a way to hold each member of the team responsible and accountable for their individual roles. Nothing feeds the team more than having the ability to see their progress and where they are heading. It is important to note that when listing goals, they should be measurable goals. “It is critical to the success of a high performance team that it be told what to achieve and not how to achieve it.” (High Performance Teams, n,d)
An important part of maintaining open conversation and communication is understanding the scope of the team. This is an important step because it maintains what the boundaries are that the team can function in. This is important because we are clarifying in the beginning what you can and cannot do, and what the expectation is for each person’s role. Having a clear scope of practice is a necessary tool for avoiding some of the earlier mentioned conflicts.
Finally, you want to have an organizational team chart. This is a great way to reestablish those boundaries, including identifying each member of the team individually, what their roles and responsibilities are and their individual strengths. The individual mention is good because it maintains the importance of each team member and remains focused on the individual strengths of each person to maintain a cohesive team.

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Communication and Collaboration Technology
Understanding the need for communication that is applicable to all members of the team across the United States is very important. The ability for the team to communicate and collaborate together to achieve the ultimate goal set forth from the organization can be achieved by using multiple means of communication. It is key to identify those areas of communication, what the benefits of those areas are and also what the negative outcomes of using those modes of communication could be on the team. I will focus on the recommended forms of communication as well as the benefits and potential risks if implemented. We will be paying careful attention to synchronous and asynchronous types of communication.
Synchronous technologies are those technologies that offer people the opportunity to work and meet at the same time and pace. Synchronous technologies have a great advantage to them in that the ability to communicate directly. With synchronous communication, people are able to request and offer instant feedback for whatever questions or comments that they are trying to make or what kind of information they are trying to gain. The main disadvantage that I can identify is that when you are working with synchronous communication, it offers little time for the respondent to think about his answer which can cause incomplete answers and the instance of having to backtrack and add more work to communicate. “It is marked by the all communicants being involved in the communications process at the same time, though not necessarily at the same location. Examples of synchronous electronic communication include telephone calls and instant messaging.” (IGI Global, 2016)
Asynchronous communication is the exact opposite of Synchronous communication, however, there are methods that incorporate both methods. “Asynchronous communication is the exchange of messages, such as among the hosts on a network or devices in a computer, by

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reading and responding as schedules permit rather than according to some clock that is synchronized for both the sender and receiver or in real time. It is usually used to describe communications in which data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream.”
(The Linux Information Process, 2005) There are many advantages to asynchronous communication, especially when working in a group such as this with members all over the
United States. Different types of asynchronous communication include some of our most popular communication styles today, including email, bulletin boards, group calendars and data sharing. Of course while there are many pros’ such as the fact that there is the ability for the sender to ensure that they have had time to adequately think about and issue their response.
There are some cons to this type of communication as well. The first is that you have to keep in mind the competency of the other users. Another issue that could cause some frustration is that there could be a major time delay in responding or the risk of your message not being delivered and you would have no way of knowing it without adequate follow up.
One way of achieving the goal of having adequate technology is to appoint a Technology
Architect. “The technology architect is responsible for defining the functional and technological requirements, Participating in the evaluation, selection, and implementation of the collaborative software and developing the final technology design and ensuring integration within the enterprise architecture for the virtual initiatives.” (Gignac, 2004) It is my recommendation that we implore as many types of communication that we can, not only to ensure that we have constant communication, but in a way that is beneficial to everyone. I believe that we need to have conference calls and video chats, but we also need to rely on asynchronous communications like emails and communication boards.

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I also find it imperative that we use a system such as Dropbox or Google Drive or One
Drive for Business. I have had personal experience with all of these platforms and find them to be of incredible help when working with a collaborative team. Having the opportunity to be able to keep all of the information in one place for access to all members of the team is vital. If for some reason, I am unable to obtain a direct answer from another team member, having the ability to return to that platform to locate the answer is vital. Having all of the information available, including our Team Charter is going to be crucial to maintaining open lines of communication and avoid conflicts.

Conclusion
I believe that should we follow the advice of the Team Charter and implement the shared work platforms that I have mentioned, we will achieve nothing but success. To review, my recommendations are to ensure that we have adequately built a Team Charter and included detailed areas of importance to maintain open and trustworthy communication between all members of the team and the leadership. We want to ensure that we are tasking all members of the team clearly and concisely, with a direct understanding of what the goals are that we want to achieve and what their role is in achieving those goals. I want every team member to understand that they are valued and respected. If this should not be the case, then it is expected that the team member will make every effort to have open and clear communication to resolve any conflicts that may exist. Finally, it is my recommendation that we appoint and rely on our Technology
Architect to ensure that we are using the most up to date and convenient technology sources that are available to us, including a shared work platform, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. As long as we follow these details, we will be successful.

RUNNING HEAD: COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY CASE STUDY

REFERENCES

Brown, B. (n,d). Team Charter . Retrieved April 20, 2016, from Study Group D-6: http://www.teamlti.com/charter/page0/files/Charter4.pdf Edwards, A. (2004). Implementing Virtual Teams. Burlington, VT, USA: Grower Publishing
House.
Gignac, F. (2004). Building Successful Virtual Teams. Norwood, MA, USA: Artech House
Books.
Grant, C. (2009, September 9). Team Conflict Resolution. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from More
Ramblings: http://cgrant.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/team-conflict-resolution/
High Performance Teams. (n,d). Team Charter. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from High
Performance Teams: http://highperformanceteams.org/hpt_chtr.htm
IGI Global. (2016). What is Synchronous Communication. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from IGI
Global: http://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/synchronous-communication/28968
The Linux Information Process. (2005, October 25). Asynchronous Communication Definition.
Retrieved April 20, 2016, from The Linux Information Process: http://www.linfo.org/asynchronous.html Trillium Teams. (n,d.). Building a Team Charter. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from Trillium
Teams: http://www.trilliumteams.com/articles/32/building-a-team-charter

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