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Saturday, 26 November 2011

The band in cyberspace - a description of management practices in multicultural virtual teams Infosys

piz7About AUTORKACH:

Zaneta Leduchowska The author is a manager at Infosys BPO Ltd.. z oo in Łódź.The Business Transformation division provides consulting services for clients in the international market. It is the manager and coach of virtual project teams.

Bozena Wujec The author is executive coach and teacher at Kozminski University.Works in Europe and Asia as a consultant and intercultural teams coach. Inspired conducts consulting firm.

In view of globalization and the development of communication media away from working with people who are in sight, to work in cyberspace. In many organizations, virtual teams are formed, which very effectively cooperate with each other despite the geographical distance, time differences, cultural and organizational.

infosys1Infosys BPO is a subsidiary of Infosys Technologies Ltd. The company employs nearly 20 thousand. employees on four continents. Provides services including bookkeeping, customer service, sales and customer database management, services related to administration and personnel management, purchase order processing, and services for reporting and analysis. One of the departments of the company - Business Transformation is an example of advanced service units, in which the work is based on virtual teams. The aim of department is to help customers achieve better business indicators, lower costs and increase efficiency in their business processes. The main area of ​​operation of the department is seen as a business transformation best fit the business strategy into three basic components: people, technology and processes. Daily activity TB department is based on the conduct of the projects implemented by virtual teams operating in a multicultural environment.

Virtual Teams

The concept of teamwork in business has emerged in the U.S. in the 60s, and his extensive development occurred in the 80sTwentieth century, with the popularization of philosophy of TQM. Self-managing teams had to cut bureaucracy, reduce time and improve the quality of services. Employees of the lowest ranks began to be entered into the decision-making processes and solve problems that previously were the domain of managers.

At the end of the last century, a considerable number of companies such as Goodyear, Motorola and GE began to introduce the principles of teamwork to their foreign affiliates in Asia, Europe and South America in order to integrate the principles of personnel management. Currently, this becomes the norm, because in connection with globalization and the development of communication media away from working with people who are in sight, to work in cyberspace, with people in different locations in the world. In this way virtual teams. Their task is to perform a specific task or project within the company, or sometimes even beyond. To coordinate the work of the team uses a variety of specially designed computer systems to enable virtual interaction at work, as well as e-mails, instant messaging, video-and teleconferencing.


Virtual teams in global companies tend to have a multicultural character, because their members often differ in terms of ethnic, racial, national or cultural. These differences result from the perception of the world from different perspectives, mainly differing work styles, approaches to the challenges faced, the assimilation of information and deadlines. Culture in its various forms, determines what we pay attention to and what we ignore. Going beyond your own perspective and seeing the world through the eyes of others is a valuable resource that fosters personal development, social and professional, which often becomes a predominantly multicultural virtual teams.

For Division of Business Transformation multicultural elements are extremely visible. The department includes managers, junior project managers, specialists and experts in virtual teams who play the roles of project managers or members. Department has extensive experience in the global market in the projects in the fields of finance: the achievements of seven years over 300 projects. Geographical scope of their projects include four continents: Europe, United States, Latin America and Asia, mainly India and China. Hence, the composition includes a virtual project team, as collaborators, and 2-3 people from a given location, according to customer needs.

Figure 1 Infosys BPO locations in the world


Virtual pros and cons

The challenges of cultural differences, geographical distance and time do not necessarily have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the team, may also be an advantage. The advantage of multi-cultural teams is their international composition that provides a much broader perspective of perception tasks, making it easier to deal with potential problems during its implementation.

Fast-paced virtual teams affect the short time of arrival of the product or service to the customer. This period is one of the key success factors in manufacturing, since implementation time (time-to-market) almost 1:1 translates into cost. Faster is also a reaction to a changing market environment and competition activities.

The most remarkable is the possibility of effective use of human resources. Flexible working hours means that you are working virtually around the clock regardless of geographical distance and availability of office space. Employees can be assigned to several tasks simultaneously, and the temporary form of the team can move people from one project to another. At the same time it also takes place in a virtual way, because physical movement is not necessary. This allows efficient use of the best talent and attract the best employees to the company regardless of location.

The main challenge for virtual teams are low social interactions and misunderstandings arising from cultural differences reveal themselves in the style of communication, how to work and the hierarchy of values. Besides, different time zones make it difficult arranging meetings, tele-or video-conferencing and cause nuisance trip. Besides low growth of non-verbal communication, a small amount of time to establish relationships and chat over coffee have a negative impact on team spirit, resulting in limited trust.

Share leadership

Managing a virtual team managers require new methods of leadership, skills and international międzyfunkcyjnych and to thrive with different personality types. The key here is experience manager, his coaching skills and a clearly defined strategy for managing the virtual team.

Team members must work largely independently, autonomously, performing multiple roles. Teamwork is an expert, and the members are not only the project manager, but also to direct the heads of others, which may hinder the setting of priorities and the objectives of the project. Hence the most appropriate for the group are flat hierarchical structures or lack of them. Members share their leadership at different times of the process. This new style of leadership, in which team members are leaders for each other, is called a share and leadership in virtual teams is a multi-cultural norm.

Virtual team has its own cycle of life, comparable to the natural, albeit with a bit more intensive and stronger dynamics of phase turbulence. Projects in virtual teams are usually very complex. During the proving more difficult than in the planning stage and require much more time. Often already during the project the client changes its expectations or there are unforeseen problems random. In these times of tighter group is exposed to stress and conflict. Therefore of great importance that mutual trust and encouraged feedback coaching team members. It helps teams to function effectively and efficiently overcome the challenges without much effect on the duration of the project and its costs.

Coaching in virtual teams

Limiting the use of negative and positive factor is the task of the team manager, who often acts also as a coach. Coaching is an intervention designed to extract the full potential of team members. Coach, as the captain of the vessel safely carried out by the project team, paying attention to cultural differences and meanders virtuality trap work. It has at the same time essentially to deal with three types of coaching intervention:

  • Coaching and development, for the good functioning of the team and its members as the team awaits the further development of many new projects.
  • Coaching intervention (repair) when the team encounters difficulties in the operation and collaboration.
  • Coaching changes, the challenges for the team are the variables associated with its objectives and high growth group.

Full coaching intervention for virtual teams contains a lot of different activities. Essentially consists of the elements of traditional coaching, such as a contract with stakeholders, understanding and assessment phase, setting goals, etc., to which their cultural issues, organizational and technological. Topics discussed during the coaching relationship and are usually communication between team members, the level of business skills, differences in styles of work, timeliness of tasks, styles, motivation, cultural differences affecting the quality of their work and others.

The specificity of the work in multicultural virtual teams presents many challenges both to the manager - a coach of this team, as well as against its members. In addition to the planning and implementation of a virtual project, you must also take care of the realm of communication, understanding cultural differences and different personality types. Aid in the implementation of this challenge becomes a coach, who supports the team in this virtual journey. Working in virtual teams of international corporations is a daily reality. Coach or manager as a coach facilitates the interpretation of the same world, but seen in other prospects in the dimension of cultural differences. This allows virtual teams to effectively operate and achieve common goals, thus contributing to the success of the organization.


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  • Zespół w cyberprzestrzeni – opis praktyki Zarządzanie wielokulturowymi zespołami wirtualnymi w Infosys BPO

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