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Assignment 1: Discussion
Thus far in the course, you have learned about different types of teams, team dysfunctions, and the importance of effective team leadership and team building.
Based on your organizational leadership experience and the information accumulated in this class, in at least 400 words:
- Identify three (3) possible research topics related to team leadership and team dynamics.
- Discuss some of the problems or opportunities that each of these three studies could address.
- Offer specific suggestions for solving the problem and/or for taking advantage of the opportunities presented. Support these suggestions with a rationale, research sources, and/or example from your experience in teams/groups.
By the due date assigned, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through the end of the module, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses.
Write your initial response in 300–500 words. Your response should be thorough and address all components of the discussion question in detail, include citations of all sources, where needed, according to the APA Style, and demonstrate accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation
Module 6 Overview
Managers assemble temporary teams to execute a specific set of tasks under set organizational conditions. Interdependent goals drive virtual teams or geographically dispersed teams (GDTs); these teams are comprised of a group of individuals who collaborate across boundaries. Inter-organizational teams are comprised of a select group of individuals who only focus on areas in which they command intellectual and creative expertise.
In this module, you will compare and contrast team types as well as team modalities, which will evolve in time to come. Additionally, you will explore challenges that leaders might face in coordinating these team modalities.
Leaders generally assemble temporary teams to execute a specific set of tasks, which require immediate attention and which emerge because of certain organizational conditions.
Organizations today use temporary teams frequently to adapt to evolving work culture. The complexity of most work environments today has evolved to such an extent that even long-standing committees are not able to respond satisfactorily to rapidly evolving changes and expectations. Most often, leaders assemble teams rapidly to meet business requirements set by changing clientele. To respond to a particular challenge related to potential clients, managers might assemble teams comprised of specialists or representatives from the departments of marketing, finance, and technology. Typically, short-term objectives help leaders establish a narrow focus and inspire quick progress amongst members of temporary teams. Additionally, establishment of realistic goals, which are achievable within a short period, helps to increase productivity of temporary teams. Leaders must also thoroughly communicate goals, operational guidelines, and expectations to team members because without this clarity, the team is likely to miss its mark and might not have the opportunity to make adjustments necessary for improved performances.
Virtual teams are becoming increasingly popular because of workforce flux, which greatly relies on experts the world over. Today, websites enable easy research on expertise and enable individuals on the cutting edge of their profession to conduct business with organizations at a global level. Virtual teams—in comparison to traditional teams—contain greater diversity in work norms and expectations, which in turn depend on the virtual destination. Different time zones and cultural expectations often determine the type and persistence of communication in virtual teams. With face-to-face meetings, leaders can judge nuances in conversation, the tone of comments made, and the subtleties of human interaction, which are absent in most virtual dialogue. Therefore, to lead a virtual team often poses a greater challenge.
The lack of non-verbal information often causes a virtual team to get off course suddenly and members to misinterpret each other’s words and actions. This might lead to loss of productive time, poor progress, and possibly hurt feelings. To effectively manage or lead virtual teams, it is essential to recognize the power of the written word. Leaders, therefore, must gauge members’ written communication abilities, monitor how virtual teams share information, and attempt to seek immediate clarification whenever there is doubt about shared information.
Many virtual teams often choose a combined management system, where, in addition to web-based communication, there might be ongoing teleconference meetings, which allow for personalized interaction within a team. This arrangement is often helpful because it allows for accurate interpretation of team members’ intentions and thoughts. Additionally, the arrangement provides an opportunity to expand on ideas or beliefs in detail and in a simpler fashion. Certainly, in years to come, with a greater use of virtual teams, strategies that enable teams to function effectively will continue to evolve. The role of team leaders, the skill of team members, and communication with and among teams will continue to be areas of concern.
- Leader’s role: The leader must ensure that all team members are aware of the vision and mission of the organization and the team. A leader must conduct a risk analysis to identify potential problems that might cause the mission to fail. Additionally, leaders must obtain a clear picture of processes, values, culture, and structure that might hinder the team’s ability to succeed. The leader must constantly be curious and scan for possible problems, as the leader is responsible for the overall success of the team.
- Team members’ skills: One of the benefits of virtual teams is the ability to have talented members from all over the world. This is important because the skills and competencies required of virtual team members must be very high. Team members need to be able to work independently but they need to develop trust among themselves.
- Complementary skills: Virtual team members are those that thrive in interdependent work relationships and are self- reliant and self-motivated. Skills must be developed in virtual teams as they can increase productivity and lower operating costs.
- Communication: Trying to communicate with virtual teams can be far more difficult than in-house members because you lose the face-to-face nonverbal communication, which sometimes can preempt over what is actually said. For this reason, it is often more difficult to manage conflict with virtual teams and a leader must be aware of this.
Proliferation of inter-organizational teams is a function of increasingly technical work which teams in large organizations are required to execute. Organizations might choose to employ fewer people and narrow their scope to areas in which they command intellectual and creative expertise. For example, if your company has excellent systems for constructing state-of-the-art violins, you might choose to team up with other businesses in constructing systems related to marketing, human resources, shipping, and payroll. The advantage of using other companies is that leaders in your organization can focus on expertise that makes them exclusive, in this case, the construction of violins. Additionally, by teaming up with other businesses, which have already created a niche in shipping or marketing, you are more likely to offer competitive prices and services. Today, the Internet enables easy realization of such alliances. A generation ago, your violin company in the United States might have relied on outsourcing marketing strategies to a company in either the same town or one situated at a slight distance. However, with the Internet your company can now use marketing experts on a virtual team from Australia, if that team truly offers the best strategies at competitive prices.
Many interesting challenges arise while dealing with inter-organizational teams. For example, communications issues that crop up with distance, a part of managing virtual teams, also arise while managing inter-organizational alliances. Additionally, such alliances often struggle with confusion over decision-making strategies. On entering such alliances, teams must be clear about the point at which one team might need to surrender its experience to the adjoining team. Each leader must initially establish such protocols. Inter-organizational teams generally have co-leaders, that is, one leader from each alliance. Often, relationships between leaders (who represent the interests of each team) drive the ultimate success of the project. Typically, one of the best steps an organization can take is to monitor the performance of inter- organizational teams consistently. Maintaining such practice might avoid the debilitating impact that might result if members do not adhere to essential company standards. Additionally, team leaders must also regularly check on the progress made by the team by asking members to articulate their impressions about the group’s progress and the potential challenges that lie ahead, honestly and consistently.
- Align goals: Teams can align goals that access relationships to obtain an advantage from strategic coalitions according to the availability of resources. Teams in large organizations can benefit because of the possible availability of expertise and technology. Goal alignment can provide positive results through knowledge, trust, and communication and also develop synergy in the process.
- Establish rules: Rules must be established as there must be a willingness to support the sharing and integrating of learning in order to develop true collaboration in an alliance. Some teams will only want to partner with certain teams that they trust because of the exclusivity of their technology or information.
- Methods of communication: The methods of communication are improving because of the availability of videoconferencing, meeting maker, and shared web-based project sites. This allows for quick responses in the sharing of knowledge and expertise in problem solving, decision making, etc.
Globally and Culturally Diverse Teams
Global teams have the challenge of creating and maintaining trust in a global team environment. The utilization of these types of teams is on the rise because of the ability to exchange expertise and thereby generating far more productivity and efficiency. As a result organizations are using self-managed work teams in the foreign affiliates.
- Create shared team norms and values: This is important to team success as culturally adapted leadership can usually obtain positive team outcomes. Understanding norms and values are very important as the individual influence from one team member might be able to shape the entire team’s performance.
- Open communications: It is essential to try and develop open communications as collaborative efforts are more effective through stronger linkage. One of the keys to alliances is the fact that they are access relationships, which makes open communication an essential activity.
Module 6 Summary
In this module, you examined temporary, virtual, and inter-organizational teams. Technology greatly affects team structures, and more often than not, new structures create unprecedented opportunities for growth and pose potential leadership challenges.
Here are the key points covered in this module:
- Leaders more often than not will assemble temporary teams to execute a focused set of tasks, which require immediate attention. Such teams inspire quick progress in leaders and members because short-term objectives guide them.
- Virtual teams contain great diversity in work norms and expectations; they are becoming increasingly popular because of great reliance on experts the world over. Virtual teams often choose a combined management system that includes web-based communication and teleconference meetings.
- Appropriate inter-organizational alliances give organizations an opportunity to focus on their specialties; subsequently, such organizations can outsource functions over which they do not command expertise. Despite this advantage, however, there are potential downsides to such alliances, namely, confusion and frustration that results while coordinating with other teams.
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