Collaboration among the teams along with effective communication is significant for any sort of success in business organizations. Breaking of communication lines along with non-cooperation among the teams could often lead up to business failures. Sometimes there exist too many teams which lead to conflict of decisions, jeopardizing the overall work process. Sometimes the teams are too reluctant on sharing important information with other teams. Companies have started making the best use of technologies and bringing about changes in their plans and policies to augment the factor of productivity, aligning the departments together and attaining the business goals (Beebe and Masterson 2014).
This report would be dealing with issues being faced by Chocolate Mortality regarding decline in its productivity for reasons like conflicts in its virtual teams, the implications of the ethical and intercultural communications in the company along with proper recommendations to better the situation.
Chocolate Mortality is stated to be an Australian company that is in the habit of selling 3D printed chocolates. The company does have many offices in several Australian cities. However, this case study deals with one of its offices in Tokyo, Japan that has been the result of its growth. This office witnessed increased sales upto 8 per cent through hiring of Japanese teenagers. The key mission of the company is to offer high-quality sculptures of chocolate.
The company makes use of the geographically disseminated virtual groups with the teams using telephones, emails and Zoom to communicate with one another. However, like every other organization,
Chocolate Mortality too is going through a tough phase, witnessing decline in productivity. Staff turnover has augmented with team struggling in making decisions indicating towards personality conflict. However, as per the company HR manager the solution to this is to make sure their employees keep their mouth shut and their negative feelings should not crop up at workplace.
It has been stated in the case study that Chocolate Mortality makes use of geographically virtual teams. Virtual teams are generally affected by three structure of distance- the physical, temporal and emotional. In the physical front, virtual teams are generally spread across the various geographical locations only connected through means of technology. In case of temporal, virtual teams are generally segregated in terms of time zones, hours of working and synchronization level existing between the communicative media (Larson, Leung and Mullane 2017). The third is the emotional bit or distance involved within the virtual teams. There is no face-to-face communication between teams and inadequate access to the non-verbal cues.
In case of Chocolate Mortality, their communication depends on video conferencing that is of limited nature, forcing the team members in relying on written, in case of email, or vocal, in case of calls on telephone. Within the virtual teams message coding and decoding are being made automatically without the significant message modification. However, one big disadvantage in this system can be partial loss of message. This often leads to delays in the process of communication and uncertainty among the members of the virtual team. The outcome of losing the message partially is stated to be more serious as the communication is being realized between additional senders because, at one single time, it would be difficult in identifying the ‘missing link’ among the set of messages between the various teams of Chocolate Mortality (Pinjani and Palvia 2013). The team would fail to realize in due time its objective. Each and every team of Chocolate mortality has significant amount of members in each of their teams where there is high probability of delay in communication and losing out on clear perception (Gilson et al. 2015).
Another major disadvantage of this model of communication is employee generally feels secluded infront of the computer and has no fortification of his team members. This feel of isolation associated with lack in overview of the objectives of the group often leads to relational conflicts within team. The source of conflict of the relations is generally the misinterpretation taking place in communication and in the way the virtual team members think.
Ethics and Intercultural communication:
People have the habit of bringing with them different sets of ethnically assembled perspectives towards the suitable behavior. Keeping this in mind, it is of no surprise that disputes and conflicts exist while communicating across the cultures. Moreover, within the circumstance of conflict, people do have various sets of perceptions about the proper ways in handling the conflict.
Global virtual teams constitute of diversified team members having different values, behaviors and beliefs. Chocolate mortality, an Australian company cannot work in Japan with a full bunch of Australian employees, they need Japanese employees at certain level to manage the work proceedings (Jang 2013). Trust is something that is essential in group associations, though harder in fostering it in an online environment. Trust is stated to be one of the key aspects of virtual team. However, trust is something that is hard to extend when there is limited face-to-face communication.
Miscommunication and unresponsiveness within a virtual team generally contributes to the lack of trust. If an employee does not react to an important mail from other team there is this notion that he or she is not that interested and unreliable (Bartelt and Dennis 2014). In virtual teams like that of Chocolate Mortality’s takes much longer to work in an online environment when compared to meetings of face-to-face nature. Conflict within a virtual team might be due to biases, lack in trust, lack of empathy and delays that are difficult to control and resolve.
Intercultural ethics generally promotes the competence level of intercultural communicative that states the ability to execute efficiently and properly with others. Intercultural communication encourages commitment and action in certain issues of development of humans while interacting with the assorted individuals (Pangil and Moi Chan 2014). Intercultural ethics would in a way help Chocolate Mortality in finding a way in helping people productively interrelate with each other. Communication between the cultures is very important in organizations like Chocolate Mortality, so it becomes important in understanding why cultures operate, believe and behave in one particular way and identifying the diversity between cultures is key.
Chocolate Mortality would do well in providing the freedom of expression to its employees, perspective diversity and dissent tolerance in attaining the accountable fundamental of decision making. Under present circumstances that is not the case with Chocolate Mortality with the HR manager telling the employees to keep shut and keep negative feelings to themselves. This would not help the situation as employees would not be able to express themselves in the way they like.
Chocolate Mortality needs some recommendations to better their situation and improve on their process of decision making and productivity. Communication is important and break down in that is causing major issues for the company in Japan.
- The communication should be done in effective and efficient manner. It is important for Chocolate Mortality to put together a communication plan including all the personnel working on the project and the ways they can be contacted.
- Time zones are to be managed in wise manner. Time zones are an important factor when scheduling the virtual team meetings that require participants from all the offices.
- Chocolate Mortality need to conduct weekly internal meetings. For making the communication competent and effective, this would be helping the members of the team in feeling totally plugged in to the things that are going on along with apparent direction on the things to do in the coming weeks.
- Peer reviews. This is state to be critical when the team members cannot meet for face-to-face communication. Chocolate Mortality management needs to create an environment where employees of one team should get an opportunity to critique the work of others, addressing the gaps in work or communication and make positive contribution to important deliverables.
- Using of automation: A web-based tool of good nature is required that facilitates the team in collaborating digitally on regular basis. This would help in strengthening the process of communication in the company.
- The company should do well in building inter-personal relationships. Virtual teams are diversified in nature, located even in remote places geographically. The company would do well in bringing some of them to the home office or certain other work locations. It is important to know the team members better in face-to-face situations, making them committed enough along with enhancing the willingness to help again.
- Yearly summit: This would be bringing everyone together. An annual gathering offers an opportunity for the virtual team members working together, but never meets face-to-face in getting the opportunity.
It can be concluded that because of having virtual teams, Chocolate Mortality is facing certain issues that is lessening its productivity. The HR manager as a solution has stated not to express negativity and keep their mouthy shut if they do not like anything. This would certainly not help the company in the long run. Culture and communication does pose a real threat to virtual teams but this company needs to think beyond that for being successful like bringing the employees together either quarterly or annually, creating a free work environment and building inert-personal relationships.
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