Course Work On Building And Managing Collaborative Teams

Published: 2021-06-22 00:15:52
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Category: Business, Education, Knowledge, Company, Team, Teamwork, Leadership, Workplace

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Teams tend to be at the heart of everything that a business does, whether that is a sole proprietorship or a huge corporation. No one person, no matter how talented they are, can do all the work themselves in order for a business to be successful. Teams bring together the knowledge and expertise to carry out the complex tasks that a business environment has always demanded, and fostering these teams to be the best fit possible is what all successful names in the business world have achieved.
4 traits that are crucial for teams but also undermine them

The dynamic technology driven environment that we live in today requires some unique traits that teams must have in order for them to complete their designated tasks. These traits are very different from the requirements of a good team a decade ago (Gratton and Erickson, 2007):

Large size

Since it is common practice now for business functions to span over continents, traditional teams that had a maximum of 20 members now foster around 100 people to meet the demands of the global population that the bigger companies cater to.

Large teams have the advantage of a greater stakeholder group being involved, the coming together of diverse minds full of unique knowledge and the required expertise that only a few people in the organization would possess. However the major drawback of having such a big team handling a project is that collaboration amongst so many members becomes very difficult. Proactive communication to discern knowledge and then fluent activities by all involved seems a difficult task with so many people involved.

Virtual participation

Business processes being moved to countries where resources are most easily available and at the cheapest rates is another trait that many businesses are practicing. Hence expertise tend to span across large boundaries and people from far flung areas are required to communicate with each other to carry out business functions.

Seldom now do people from a large team are together in one office and use of advanced technology to share ideas and information is vital to business health now. Again the problem with such virtual contact is that true collaboration suffers. Firstly there is no face to face contact which is better when a member wants to convey an important point. There also comes the issue of time difference and communicating things other than mere data.


Engagement of members from different countries always brings together people from different background bringing with them different perspectives. This mixture of unique sets of people is likely to foster innovation and creativity when such minds get together, however when people who hardly know each other meet, they are unlikely to share knowledge and ideas so freely. It is common practice to be a bit shy with people you are not really familiar with.

High education levels

Complex teams are made up of a variety of knowledge and skill sets that can devise brilliant plans to tackle issues facing their company. When individuals with their own specialized talent get together, they are likely to perform at the highest level. In this context though there is the issue of disintegration among team members. When specialist education seeking individuals are brought together, they are also likely to get involved in unproductive conflicts by having a proud view of themselves and the knowledge they have gained.
8 practices to overcome difficulties in managing complex teams

The aforementioned traits are crucial to teams and also pose a danger to them. For this reason it is vital that company executives, HR departments and team leaders make sure that certain practices are present within teams that would help them in doing away with the barriers that would limit success (Gratton and Erickson, 2007):

- Modeling collaborative behavior. Organizations where the top executives set examples of collaboration will most likely have a trickledown effect as others follow suit.
- ‘Gift culture’. Nothing motivates a person to learn more than having an informal personal session with them discerning important information. This is exactly the purpose of having mentoring and coaching sessions, especially on an informal basis for the employee to learn and be valued. Networks created via such means would ensure that an employee makes their way through a challenge no matter how difficult it is.
- Ensuring required skills. It often happens that companies despite having a culture of collaboration do not seem to reflect that in their teams. This usually happens when team members do not possess the required skills to do so, such as listening to their partners’ problems proactively. In companies where the HR department has taken steps to equip employees with problem solving and effective communication skills, there seems to be a much more positive impact on team collaboration.
- Having a strong sense of community. Members of a closely knit community are always more likely to share knowledge and feel much more comfortable around each other as compared to members of a group brought together to just fulfill a task. Teams would have this sense of togetherness when company culture expresses it as well.
- Team leaders who are both task and relationship oriented. Debate continues as to what type of leader is better, successful teams have showcased a need for a leader who has both personalities and is dynamic in the way he uses them. Typically moving from a task orientation from the onset to a relationship orientation setting as roles are clarified has turned out to be the better approach.
- Building on heritage relationships. It is always better to form a team where a few of the members are well acquainted with each other so that they can get things running within the team as gradually other members feel comfortable. Complete strangers together will be unlikely to share knowledge and will not be able to work with ease.
- Clarifying roles and having a bit of task ambiguity. Teams tend to collaborate well when members are clear as to what their job is and when the process towards achieving the particular task is left at their discretion.

Challenges and solutions for Unilever Pakistan

Unilever is one of the biggest FMCGs in the world operating on a huge scale catering to more than 190 countries. With 400 brands in the company portfolio, a big challenge for the organization is to present brands according to the specific regions based on different country cultures whilst still maintaining the true essence of the brand and the rules and procedures et out by the headquarters. This involves creating branding strategies and advertisements that would appeal to people from various backgrounds and in the case of a developing nation such as Pakistan, also catering to the bottom of the pyramid market. Since Pakistan is India’s neighbor and shares a few cultural similarities with it, what at times happens is that the strategies that worked in India might be applied to the Pakistani market as well. This in reality has created problems and showcases exactly the sort of challenge that the company is facing (Unilever, 2013).

The company is facing a mixture of all the challenges listed above as diversity seems an issue because a few ads that ran well in India were used for the Pakistani environment and were not met with much enthusiasm there, this clearly shows a lack of understanding of the Pakistani culture. If such an issue was allowed to crop up, then it shows that communication within employees was not a desired level and that might be because either teams have become very big or due to virtual participation.
In light of the above scenario the 4 solutions that seem best for this particular issue would be having signature relationship practices, having a strong sense of community, leaders who are both task and relationship oriented and clarifying roles but leaving a bit of task ambiguity.

The above issue in the company reflects Unilever Pakistan just following what was applied in India and hence employees as Pakistan it seems were not left with enough independence as to how to achieve the task of catering to their respective market. They should be clarified what their job is which always happens, but along with they should also be given flexibility to fulfill their duties.

The top management plays a big role in keeping the motivation of their subordinates high by setting examples for them and fostering an environment of collaboration. When the people at the top showcase proactive communication with others during their work, the same should happen for all other teams. This is reinforced by having a strong sense of community as well because the closer team members feel to each other, the better they will be able to work together. Here the job of the HR department comes in place for it to arrange retreats and dinners whereby employees from different countries can get together and share knowledge and ideas.

Finally no matter where the teams are operating, it is imperative that the leader have immaculate skills so that he may deal with the challenges specific to his region and to his subordinates, and makes sure that everyone involved does the right job. The leader also plays a big role in communicating the purpose that has to be achieved and in maintaining a good fit between work and team members. In short, inspiration comes from the leader (Grazier, 1998).


Gratton, L., & Erickson, T. (2007). Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams. Harvard Business Review, November, Vol 85 Issue 11 p. 100-109.
Grazier, P. (2004). Team motivation. Retrieved July 27, 2010 at:
Unilever. (2013). Unilever facts. Retrieved from

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