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Virtuality: How to Manage Virtual Team Structures

Virtuality hurts team performance

· team,issues

Concept: degree to which your team is dispersed geographically or nationally; and/or communicates via technology
>E.g., what percent of your team is co-located in the same office versus distributed virtually accross geographies?

Effects of virtuality on team performance

  • Geographic dispersion reduces contextual knowledge, increases coordination complexity. So you need to foster exchange of contextual knowledge
  • National dispersion introduces different communication preferences; reduces identification with the team. So you need to bridge in-group(co-located members or same nationality members) and out-group members(peripheral members); integrate preferences while allowing for uniqueness.
  • Electronic dependence reduces control and monitoring, reduces clarity and communication richness. So you need to increase feedback giving and seeking; develop social cues and clear e-comm norms.

Source: Gibson and Gibbs, Administrative Science Quaterly, 2006

Three strategies to improve performance front of virtuality
>Strategy 1: Foster team empowerment
In virtual setting, high empowerment of the team results in better team performance.

Source: Kirkman et al., Academy of Management Journal, 2004

>Strategy 2: Build support structures
Virtuality makes it harder... but building structural support helps.
Example: Clear and fair reward structure | Clear task structures and roles | Consistent information sharing

Source: Hoch and Kozlowski, Journal of Applied Psychology, 2014

>Strategy 3: Build a "Safe"(Psychological) environment
In highly virtual team (e.g:geo dispersed), if you do not build safe environment, team performance suffers dramatically

Source: Gibson and Gibbs, Administrative Science Quaterly, 2006