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Effects of Distance on Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution

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Essay title: Effects of Distance on Team Dynamics and Conflict Resolution

EFFECTS OF DISTANCE ON TEAM DYNAMICS AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Conflict: is conflict good, bad, or ugly? Conflict itself is none of these. Conflict can make a team successful or conflict can make a team fail. The good, bad, or ugly is the direct result of how people working in a team handle the conflict. Managing the conflict can be as challenging for a team as the work the team is trying to complete.

A Team by definition is “A team is a formal work group consisting of people who work together intensely to achieve a common group goal.” (The learning team toolkit, chapter 15)

Team dynamics by definition is “the unseen forces that operate in a team between different groups of people.” (http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/team-dynamics.html, para 1) These forces act upon a team and become the conflict and challenges. The manner which the team handles the conflict and challenges will determine if they become a benefit or an issue.

With the vast changes in technology in the 21st century, many companies have gone regional and/or global. With this globalization comes a workforce with more challenges that ever before. These challenges create conflict. Challenges including language differences, time zone differences, and even differences in culture have become present in today’s workforce. These challenges will create the team dynamics we will work under, for better or worse.

Having a team, work or learning, spread across different geographic locations has benefits. When working on a product that will target people all over the world, team members for each of the different regions will be able to contribute facts on the region that team member resides. Facts like buying trends, income trends, and targeted audiences. Having regional team members will also help with differences in social climates and language issues. One word or slogan can be perfectly acceptable in one region but not another region. Education can come in to play as well. It might not be possible to get the different educational background need for the team from one location.

Having a team, work or learning, spread across different geographic locations has many issues as well as benefits. In today’s U. S. business model of out-sourcing overseas, and even in our learning teams, Time Zone issues are a critical issue to resolve. Issues with procrastination by one or more team members can lead to team failure and well as a decline in team morale. Upholding morale among team members can make or break a team.

Issues with communication are a concern when distance is involved in teamwork. Issues with both technology itself and issues with expression or persuasion within the method of communication are a concern. How is disappointment or frustration expressed without making the reader feel he or she are being attacked when using email or IM (Instant messaging)? Email and IM present security issues also.

THE BENEFITS OF DISTANCE

Different Localities

A mix of different locations provides a distanced team with points of view that can result in increased opportunities of reaching a stated goal. One can say that a virtual team will tend to embrace the goal more than if they were centrally located. If a sales team marketing shirts, with imprinted college football logos, had a member who was located near enough to the school, that person could tell the team what logo would likely sell in that school’s area. On a virtual team with members in Asia and Mexico a member located in the United States could do research to pinpoint what kind of shirts should go where. To ship a large quantity of University of Oklahoma shirts to a store in Austin, Texas while shipping a large quantity of University of Texas shirts to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, might not be the best decision. In assembling a team, location can have an important impact on the results produced. If an organization wanted to do business or gain knowledge about a geographical location then including a team member from or close to that location would seem logical, and could prove critical to the success of the team.

Different Social Climates

When a distance team comes from differing social climates, benefits can be realized by members sharing their points of view. A product, idea, or slogan might be perfectly acceptable in the eyes of a one group of people but that same concept may cause objections or mistrust from another social group. For example, an environmental virtual team may carpool from an airport for a face-to-face meeting in a large SUV automobile; however, if one member is driving to a store alone, he or she could be seen as a polluter by another environmentalist. Even if the members of the virtual team know that they are doing the best they can, a negative image

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