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Managing virtual team is different than a traditional team, but often time can be similar.

Many of the process and structures are almost identical such as the workgroup design and the leadership structure. However, a virtual team has all the challenges of traditional team and more. One of the main challenges that a traditional team doesnt have is trying to ensure the virtual team works together while they are truly physically apart. The ways to resolve this are understanding the different and aligning the correct workgroup design and leadership structures with team members and tasks (projects) characteristics; and understanding the effectiveness and limitations of these factors. However, before one can understand the relationships, one will first need to know the different workgroup designs and leadership structures. Virtual team leaders have some options for workgroup design and leadership structure use. The two can at time be interrelated. The workgroup designs are the Wheel, Modular, and Iterative approaches. The Wheel Approach is mostly a centralized structure where leader provides the tasks to team members, who sequentially execute them. The team members dont usually communicate with each other, but only to the team leader. This approach works well with team members who are all subject matter experts (SMEs). These SMEs can work well alone, completely understand what how to accomplish their tasks, and need little to no feedbacks from team leader (Mapping Out the,). The Modular Approach is different in where the team members are given tasks and members might collaborate with each other. The team will meet again to review and provide their feedbacks prior to finalizing the project. Since team members might work with each other, access to communication technology might be necessary (Mapping Out the,). Finally, the Iterative Approach is similar to the Modular Approach except team occasionally communicates for feedbacks throughout the project cycle. It also might be necessary for team members to communicate with each other on their tasks (Mapping Out the,). Certain technologies will be more necessary than the other approaches. Good communication technology, such as Video Teleconferencing might be needed for team syncs sessions. Also, since there will be frequent feedback during the development process, an information sharing or collaboration technology will be very useful, such as Microsoft SharePoint. The virtual team leadership structures are permanent, rotating, facilitator, and leaderless. The permanent structure is for a centralized structure or organization. The rotating structure alternates members as team leaders during the duration of the project or problem solving process. The facilitator (coordinator) is someone provides support link team members for collaboration and task accomplishments. Finally, leaderless structure is where all team members are equals and there is no formal authority or facilitator (TUI: Structuring Virtual Teams). The choice of the workgroup design and leadership structure depends on factors such as task requirements and team characteristics. If a project consists of interdependent tasks, then the approach use will one that has interaction and collaboration among team members and leader while task that strictly interdependent will require a more centralized approach, such as the Wheel Approach. Also, tasks which required performance monitor will also determine the type of approach. Team members might need to review other task documents in order to proper ensure the task theyre working on is compatible. Tasks also determine the leadership structure choices. Interdependence tasks will need some kind of authority for organization and act as a motivator while those tasks that more independent dont really require a single leadership. Technology can also affect both workgroup design and leadership structure. Team projects that require collaboration will need technology such as email to support it. For

organization purposes, technology such as Microsoft SharePoint can help those team projects that require members to review task documents from other team members (Gould, 2006). If these technologies arent available, then virtual teams might have to choose different approaches. Technologys effects on leadership structure are similar to its effects on workgroup design. Lack of access to communication and SharePoint style technology might restrict leadership to permanent. In this case, the permanent leader commands the tasks and will most likely communicate again when they review the finish products from each team members. With more technology available, team might use the other leadership styles due to more communication and information sharing capabilities. Finally, team characteristics can affect workgroup design. Team members who are more communicative and team players can utilize the Modular and Iterative Approaches, while those who tend to work solo will be more suited for the Wheel Approach. Also, teams members expertise and experience will have an impact. Teams with less experience and not knowledgeable on their tasks might need frequent feedbacks throughout the development process as well as to communicate other team members who might be SMEs. Team members characteristics can affect the leadership style choices. Self-motivators and delegators (those who fit the profile of S-4/M-4 in the Situational Leadership model) can be successful with leaderless style due to the fact that these team members required little to no supervision and are experienced at the tasks than those of the S-1/M-1 profile (Wikipedia: Situational Leadership,). This author agrees with the factors that influence the workgroup design and leadership styles, but would like to add an additional factor, the responsibilities given to the leader or facilitator. This author have experienced where the leader or facilitator was appointed as well as how team members will be manage regardless of all the above factors. This can be due to the overall organizational culture. If the organization is high centralized than senior level management might require all projects done the same way. This author experienced this in military and non-military government agencies. The workgroup designs and leadership structures can be effective, but not always realistic. In workgroup, the need to communicate between team members can arise. Some form of communication technology should always be present or accessible among members. This would also mean the Wheel Approach might be slightly flexible in communication. From this authors experience in both virtual class and virtual work teams, there is always a need to communicate from clarification of tasks to determine the due dates. Second, in the experience of this, there is always a basically a Point of Contact (POC) who can act as a leader or facilitator. Even in a leaderless structure, someone will ultimately have to finalize the tasks for turn in. This POC might be selected during the final presentation or demonstration. Therefore, this person is representing the team and can be seen or be insinuated as the team leader. Teams need to use the correct workgroup design and leadership structure based on the tasks and team members characteristics in order maintain the togetherness, but physically apart. Similar to traditional teams, if team members arent experience and need to be consistently directed on the tasks, then a permanent leadership structure with the Wheel Approach might be appropriate. Constant communication will also help togetherness and use of other technology to mimic activities that are associated with traditional teams, such as using forum boards and SharePoint type applications for information and task collaboration. A synchronized meeting, as discussed by Malhorta et el (2007), can help the team feel the cohesiveness of a traditional team. In the end, virtual teams can be as effective as traditional collocated teams; however, there are additional challenges of accomplishing those traditional face to face activities. With the correct

workgroup design and leadership structure, virtual teams can overcome challenges and be equally successful.