People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24

performance) are critical to assure the work of the team
is delivered on time and that there is a sense of progress
and pride in the team's work. Relationship-oriented
leadership behaviors (e.g., attending to members' well-being, maintaining a sense of inclusion) promotes positive
interpersonal interactions and lays the foundation for the
effectiveness of other processes.
* The detriments of over focusing on one pole to the neglect of its
pole partner. Overemphasis on the task to the neglect of
relationships can result in team members failing to form
a cohesive team and reduction in helping behaviors,
whereas overemphasis on relationships to the neglect of
the task can result in missed deadlines, losing sight of the
team's objectives, and lack of accountability.

Schedules: Flexible and Traditional

* The challenge. Logistics coordination across time and
geographical distance are a core challenge faced by VTs.
Many global teams work hours that expand to 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week. Work locations might include homes,
hotels, airplanes, cars, sports fields, dance studios, and
customers' offices. Technological overload, coordination
across time zones, time constraints, and increased stress
can threaten boundaries between work and personal life.
* The polarity. The underlying polarity of this challenge is
the need for a flexible and traditional schedule.
* The benefits of focusing on each pole. With flexible schedules,
VT team members adapt to when and where they need
to work so that deadlines are met, including responding
to requests outside of traditional business day hours.
Traditional schedules respect members' need to maintain
a consistent work schedule, clarify when teammates will
be available, and help members to schedule their other
obligations.
* The detriments of over focusing on one pole to the neglect of its
pole partner. On one hand, strict adherence to a traditional
schedule may make team meetings difficult and require
members to wait hours for responses slowing problem
solving and putting the team behind schedule during
high-intensity periods. On the other hand, overemphasizing a flexible schedule at the expense of traditional
scheduling may result in coordination breakdowns,
expectations of 24/7 availability, blurring of work-family
boundaries, and member frustration and fatigue.

Synchronicity: Working Apart and Together

* The challenge. Coordinating and combining efforts are
important aspects of VT work. For many VTs, all members
being physically together is likely to be an infrequent or
impossible option so determining when and how to work
together (physically or virtually) becomes an important
question. These issues are exacerbated by members' time
zone and technological differences. Knowing when to
have team members work on individual tasks, or in smaller
groups, versus when to have all members together for
synchronous work (physically or virtually) becomes a vital
question.
* The polarity. It is necessary for VTs to work both apart and
24

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

together-both asynchronously (working at different
times) and synchronously-to be effective.
* The benefits of focusing on each pole. On one hand, working
apart is useful as it allows members (or groups of members) to focus on their specific roles and contributions,
and schedule their own activities. On the other hand,
working together is important for problem solving, developing deeper relationships, concentrated attention on
shared team tasks, and keeping everyone working toward
the same ends.
* The detriments of over focusing on one pole to the neglect of its
pole partner. If teams overemphasize working apart, solving
issues independently can result in conflicting ideas,
solutions, and products that lack integrations. Whereas, if
teams overemphasize working together in real time they
will inevitably suffer delays and frustrations associated
with coordinating synchronous activities and are susceptible to groupthink.
Our study results showed that the struggle to manage
polarities was worth the effort. VTs who well managed the four
polarities had higher levels of performance, commitment,
satisfaction, viability, and informal learning. In short, successfully managing polarities is critical for VTs. So the question
becomes what can HR do to help them in the effort?

Embracing the Challenge of Managing Polarities

Our research also introduced a training program designed to
help VTs to better recognize and manage their polarities. A
few weeks before training, we gathered baseline information
from both VT members and leaders about their current status
on the polarities as well as team and individual characteristics and outcomes. The training featured a virtual training
session delivered via WebEx open to all team members and
the team leader (average attendance was 60 percent) about
the basics of polarity thinking, a guided debrief of the team's
results from the baseline survey, and a discussion about how
to leverage the polarities more effectively. The goal of the
training session was to help team members recognize their
polarities, identify areas for improvement, and start to create
an action plan to better manage them in the future. About
six months after the intervention we again gathered information from both team members and leaders and tested for
differences. The success of the training intervention varied
widely with some teams improving their outcomes by over 50
percent, whereas on average teams improved their outcomes
by a more modest 2 to 5 percent. Based on the study findings
and insights from the teams that effectively managed their
polarities, we offer the three As of managing polarities: aware,
align, and acquire.

Be Aware

Helping VTs optimize their effectiveness requires a deep
understanding of their unique challenges and underlying polarities. We recommend HR train VTs on polarity perspective
taking and conduct assessments.
Polarity perspective taking. When raising awareness, HR



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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