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1: In the following scene, Don (project team member) is talking to Frederick (project team member) on the phone.

Don: I’m glad you could call me back so soon. There’s something that’s been bothering me, and I wanted to talk to you about it in private.

Frederick: Okay, does it have to do with me?

Don: It’s just that—I don’t care for the curse words that you used during our team meetings. They make me feel uncomfortable, and I’m pretty sure several of our other team members feel the same way.

Frederick: I’m sorry. I was just trying to be funny. I didn’t realize I was offending everyone.

Don: Look; I just want you to be a little more careful in the future. The humor you use seems a little out of place at our meetings.

Frederick: It’s hard to know what I can and what I can’t say.

Don: Maybe we should discuss this issue at our next team meeting. We can set some boundaries on what’s inappropriate to say during meetings.

Frederick: Okay, let’s plan on talking about it at our next meeting. Until then, I’ll think about it on my own.

Was Don correct in telling Frederick that his language is unacceptable? Why?

When individuals who do not share common history begin interacting with each other, can difference in language and behavior be misinterpreted and lead to misunderstandings? Give examples and discuss with the class.

2: In the following scene, Nancy (project team member) is talking to Sahar (project team member) on the phone.

Nancy: (Talking on the phone) Sahar, did you receive your weekly update yet?

Sahar: (Talking through the speakerphone) Yes, I did. But I don’t know what this schedule is.

Nancy: Is it the one with the colored writing on it?

Sahar: Yeah, that’s it.

Nancy: OK, that’s the team’s holiday schedule. Each team member’s holiday is displayed in a different color.

Sahar: Why would we need to know about their holidays?

Nancy: Well, it’s so that team members won’t waste time trying to contact someone when they’re celebrating a holiday. Chances are, they won’t be in the office that day.

Sahar: Oh, I see. It’s a way for us to know the best days and times to contact the other team members.

Nancy: Yeah, and if everyone uses it, it’s a way to help us show respect to one another.

With respect to the previous scene, can conflicting business practices cause problems among team members who do not understand one another’s habits?

Based on your experiences, have you ever been part of a virtual team where conflicting business practices caused problems among the team members? How did you resolve the problem? Discuss with the class.

3: You are a team leader in a telecommunication project at Icon International. There are five members in your team:

Ms. Suteshi from Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Botello from Madrid, Spain

Ms. Owens from London, UK

Mr. Bell from New York, USA

Ms. Zahabu from Cape Town, Africa

Now, answer the following:

What is your first impression of the team?

What cultural challenges can the team encounter?

As a team leader, what ground rules will you lay for the entire team to overcome the cultural challenges?



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