A Case Study on Managing Remote Teams

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This writing is a case study brief focusing on a case based on the subject of the art of managing remote or off-site teams. This report focuses on the issues and challenges associated with managing remotely working teams. It also focuses on solutions to the problems experienced by team members and leaders. The report focuses on three sections of leading teams working remotely. The first section focuses on the mistakes that leaders make while managing an off-site team. The mistake made by the leader was inappropriate assigning of roles to team members. For example in the case roles were not assigned to Allisonscher as well as Penelope by Craig who is the team leader (Fazio, 1998). Furthermore, Craig also failed to carry out appropriate delegation as a result of which the team members were unclear regarding their duties. The second part of the body focuses on the conflicts that were taking place in the team being discussed. The conflict existing in the team being discussed is of clash of perception and roles. The last part of the report focuses on methods which can help enhance the effectiveness of the team such as following the tool provided by Tuckman for managing teams. Managing remote teams can be done while following the footsteps of managing on-site teams. 

Body

Leadership Mistakes Made By Craig

            The case outlines that two remotely working team mates including Allison and Penny were experiencing a conflict. This conflict was not caused due to the inabilities of the team members. The main cause of the issue was the lack of Craig’s ability to manage the team. As per the theory of team management provided by Tuckman, teams should pass a storming stage (Williams et al., 2007:p.80). In this stage the roles and duties of team members are decided and assigned. In the case being discussed, Craig failed to indulge his team in the storming stage. The team instead moved to the performing stage. As a result of this, there was ambiguity amongst Allison and Penny regarding who is the team lead amongst the two of them.  For instance: Allison states in her email that she perceived that she will be leading the team (Fazio, 1998). On the other hand Penny tried to make Allison feel that she was the lead and expected Allison to obey her orders (Fazio, 1998).

            In order to solve this issue Craig should hold meeting with the two team members while following the stages of storming and norming stages prescribed by Tuckman. In this meeting he should sit down with the team members and assign roles to both the team members (Williams et al., 2007:p.80). He can make one of them the team leader or the coordinator as suggested by Belbin in his theory of roles exercised in teams (West et al., 2012:p.148). As per Belbin, team coordinator is the person who supervises others, makes decisions regarding delegation and sets up objectives (West et al., 2012).  Making one of them the coordinator would have helped in ensuring that the conflict of who is the lead was solved.

Conflicting Ideas & Responsibilities

            The case identifies two kinds of conflicts identified by Bell and fellow researchers. While following the eight conflicts identified by Bell it can be concluded that the team members were experiencing the conflict of perception and responsibilities (Cenere, 2015:p.131). Allison & Penny both perceived that they were the leaders in the team (Fazio, 1998). They also perceived that they were responsible for calling the shots. That is why during the client meeting when Allison was explaining the schedule for the rollout to the client, Penny stopped her in midway and started sharing her own schedule with the client. This example suggests that both thought that it was their responsibility to draft and communicate the timelines to the clients.

            The problems can be dealt with if the HR manager and Craig sit together with Allison and Penny and have a joint team meeting session as identified by John Adair. The conflicts are arising since the team members do not meet on regular basis. Their communication is mostly email based. As a result of this they are operating in an independent manner. Adair states that the team leader needs to set out the objectives, assign and delegate roles and responsibilities and carry out activities to motivate his followers (Adair et al., 2010:p.14). Craig needs to do the same and arrange a meeting with the team mates and inform them about the common objective, assign tasks and motivate them to work on their own areas by informing them about what’s in it for them.

Effective & Ineffective Off-Site Teams

            The team under discussion is an ineffective one. Larson had identified various qualities of effective teams. The team of Allison, Penny and Craig has multiple of these qualities missing. Larson states that effective teams have members that working while collaborating with each other, trust team members and value their opinions and practice equal participation while they are making decisions (Gudykunst, 2007:p.355). In the case of Craig’s team, Allison and Penny were not operating in a collaborative manner. They had developed independent plans and time lines for the clients. They even lacked trust and disliked the opinions of each other. This is why Penny interrupted Allison while she was informing the client about the rollout roadmap (Fazio, 1998). Penny on the other hand wanted Allison to follow her instructions and guidelines which depicts that Penny did not encouraged the opinion of Allison. As a team leader Craig can intervene and enhance the effectiveness of the team. Craig can identify the roles of the members for them. He should hold regular meetings with them in which he should open the communication lines between the team members. He should encourage both team members to raise their opinions in front of each other. This way both members will be able to hear what the other member has to say. At the same time, Craig should keep the decision making in his own hands as suggested by Larson.

Conclusion

            The team of Craig, Penny and Allison is a remotely working team. As a result of that they lack communication that occurs in teams that work together in an office. Craig can take lessons from Tuckman and involve in the different stages of team development in order to manage the team in a better manner. He needs to motivate and start team meeting and team briefing sessions. At the same time he needs to assign proper roles to team members based on their experiences and abilities. He needs to put in place a coordinator so other members of the team report to him/her. He needs to assign responsibility and work so there is less conflict and members are clear about what they should be working on. 

References

Adair, J. E., & Adair, J. E. (2010). Leadership and motivation: The fifty-fifty rule and the eight key principles of motivating others. London: Kogan Page.

Cenere, P. (2015). Communication skills for business professionals. Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press.

Fazio, M. R., 1998. How do you manage an off-site team?. Harvard Business Review, 76, 4.

Gudykunst, W. B. (2007). Theorizing about intercultural communication. Thousand Oaks, Calif. [u.a.: Sage.

West, M. A., & Work Foundation., 2012. Effective teamwork: Practical lessons from organizational research. Malden, MA: BPS Blackwell.

Williams, J., Curtis, T., & Chartered Institute of Marketing., 2007. Marketing management in practice 2007-2008. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann.

October 30, 2023
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Business Economics Life

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Company Organization

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1222

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