The team concept is not an unfamiliar one. We are surrounded by teams from the time we take our first breath until the time we leave this Earth. Doctors, nurses, aides, dieticians, housekeeping, and others all exhibited a collaborative effort to ensure our arrival into the world was a safe and successful journey.
Our adventures throughout grade school were also brought about by teamwork. Sports, movies, ballet, politics, business, higher education and several other parameters of life as we know it are the epitomes of teamwork, well-choreographed representations of the adage that states "Two heads are better than one. "Tasks achieved through teamwork are anticipated to be more thorough, more effective, more elaborative, more multifaceted, and more successful than those tasks carried out by one.
Individuals comprising a team contribute intrinsic skills and intuitive knowledge to the whole of the team, each member making up for what the other lacks. The result is a balanced load of all the skills necessary to complete the assigned task with proficiency (Morris, 2005). The ultimate success of the team is strongly influenced by the member's ability to work together in a cohesive state.
"Team dynamics" encompasses any and all ways that individual affiliates interact with their counterparts en route to the common goal. The overall characteristics of the assigned task, along with the inert skill of each member may also have an impact on the team's success (Morris, 2005). However, the focus here is more concerned with the interpersonal relationships within a team and strategies to employ in an effort to avoid conflict or to utilize should conflict arise.
The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science and Medicine defines team dynamics as the following: Often referred to colloquially as ‘team chemistry'; the patterns of interaction among team members that determine team spirit, harmony, cohesion, and morale. Some coaches believe that team dynamics are beyond their control, resulting from the unpredictable mixture of the personalities. Others believe that one of the most important tasks of a good coach is to create the best possible team dynamics for success (Oxford, 2005). The concepts behind this definition can apply to all types of teams. The team's ‘chemistry' is a dominant factor outlining the success of a team. If team members cannot work together effectively, then completing their assigned project is a more difficult goal to achieve.
The virtual team is presented with quite a few more discrepancies to overcome than those teams centered in real time. Before they are fully able to work up to their potential, the virtual teammates must establish some kind of rapport with their fellow constituents, lay down mutual ground rules ensuring each member has a designated responsibility, and everyone must strive to meet the team's common goal, no matter their differences individually.
Of these aforementioned qualities, the neutral rapport is the most difficult one to render effectively. Unfortunately, personality is often misinterpreted or lacking in full in the virtual team environment compared to those real time teams, where the member's personalities are vividly displayed. Physically present interaction allows one to pick up on the visual and unspoken cues that contribute to a person's character. Body language, voice inflection and intonation, the nodding of a head, or firm handshake are just among the few effective communications present in the real world, but lacking in the virtual realm. One has to rely on their own interpretations of their affiliate's written accounts and then come to a fair-minded conclusion.
"When it comes to teamwork, a person's ability to build relationships, work with others, and communicate effectively can be more important than his or her technical expertise" (Dawson, 2005). This concept is crucial if an online team is to be successful. If one member does...