People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29

TABLE 3: POLARITIES AND HOW TO MANAGE THEM
Polarity

Salient VT Characteristic

Sample Aligned Actions That Can Help Achieve Both-and Results

Communication

Nature of Work

* Determine which communication channels should be used for what
purposes (e.g., emails might be used for formal business memos whereas
IMs may be informal).
* Provide individual and team feedback on appropriate use of
communication channels.
* Create opportunities for informal communications, such as open-door
periods and chat rooms pre- and post-formal video conferences.

Global Dispersion

* Initially encourage background posting/sharing, team chartering
exercises, and use richer communication virtual tools (e.g., video
conferences) to build rapport.
* Consider targeted onboarding or training for individuals or small sets of
people to get everyone ready to collaborate.
* Leverage formal planning and scheduling tools, knowledge repositories,
and informational resources to clarify assignments and minimize
frustrations.

Global Dispersion

* Develop a formal schedule for team milestones and deliverables
between which members are free to schedule their own pace and
processes.
* Designate some predetermined "core times" when synchronous
collective work will be conducted.
* Have a place where individuals can get up to speed at their own pace
(e.g., threaded discussion lists, email threads, knowledge repositories).

Competing Demands

* Determine when and what activities are best accomplished
synchronously and would benefit from in-person meetings or higherrichness communication channels. For instance, project launch and
scoping, critical milestones or gateway reviews, transitions from one set
of activities to another, and emotionally charged issues are often best
handled using synchronous higher-richness communication channels.
* Minimize the temptation to lean toward synchronous forms of
communication when not necessary.

Formal and Informal

Leadership
Task and
Relationship

Schedule
Flexible and
Traditional

Synchronicity
Working Apart and
Working Together

Accepting the Challenge

To reap the benefits of VTs, HR has a significant leadership
role training and guiding virtual team leaders and members
on how to best manage polarities. VTs need not be thwarted
by polarities, but they must accept the challenge of actively
managing them. The key is to be aware of the polarities, use
that knowledge to make better aligned actions, and acquire
the necessary resources.

This research was supported in part by the SHRM Foundation
project #166 and Polarity Partnerships.
Jean Brittain Leslie is a Senior Fellow and Director of Strategic
Initiatives at the Center for Creative Leadership. Leslie has published more than 90 pieces on leadership, assessment, and feedback in the form of peer-reviewed articles, popular-press articles,
book chapters, and books. She can be reached at lesliej@ccl.org.

School of Business at Arizona State University. She has published
several articles and book chapters related to teams, multiteam
systems, and dynamics over time. She can be reached at Margaret.
Luciano@asu.edu.
John E. Mathieu is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at
the University of Connecticut, where he also holds the Friar Chair
in Leadership and Teams. Mathieu has over 100 publications, 200
presentations at national and international conferences, and been
a PI or Co-PI on over $11.1M in grants and contracts. He can be
reached at John.Mathieu@UConn.edu.
Emily Hoole is the Group Director of Global Research and Evaluation at the Center for Creative Leadership. Emily has published
numerous articles and book chapters related to evaluation and
organizational learning. She can be reached at hoolee@ccl.org.

References
1

Margaret M. Luciano is an Assistant Professor at the W. P. Carey

Johnson, B. Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems. Amherst, MA: HRD Press, Inc., 1992.
VOLUME 41 | ISSUE 2 | SPRING 2018

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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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