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Chapter 26. When Team Members Are in Rem... > The Virtual Team - Pg. 346

When Team Members Are in Remote Locations 346 Resolving Conflicts Among Members When members work in close proximity, the team leader resolves conflicts by bringing them together to discuss their disagreement (see Chapter 11). When members are in different locations, this be- comes more difficult. Here's how some leaders deal with this: 1. Put it in writing. If the disagreement concerns differing approaches to working on a problem, have the opposing members e-mail their arguments to the leader with copies to the other members. After each party has had a chance to read each other's arguments, arrange a conference call among the members and the team leader to discuss the case. Follow the suggestions made about resolving conflicts in Chapter 11. Attempt to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. If this fails, the leader must make the de- cision and impose it on all parties. If the problem is the inability of the members to work together, and telephone chats don't help, the team leader should invite the parties to the home office or have all meet at a central location to try to resolve it in person. 2. 3. 4. Cultural Differences In this growing global economy, more American companies are expanding into other countries, and many foreign companies are acquiring American firms or opening offices here. One obvious problem that arises when virtual teams are created across national boundaries is the language problem. As most of the communication will be in English, all members from all countries must be fluent in English. Fortunately, most educated people on other continents do speak English, though their degrees of fluency vary. In communicating with associates in other countries, avoid American colloquialisms that may be confusing to non-Americans. Often, we're not aware that words, phrases, and expressions we've used all of our lives are not understood--or worse, have entirely different meanings to our listeners. Heads Up! Although most American firms use English in communicating with teams in all countries, if you're a team leader, learn to speak the native language of your overseas team members. You'll develop a closer rapport and win their trust more easily. For example, most non-Americans have no idea what you mean when you say, "Just give me a ballpark figure," or, "We'll have to play this by ear," or the thousands of other Americanisms we constantly use. Listen to yourself and ask, "If I were not an American, would I understand this?"