After coming up on what is now three weeks of working with my team, Global CBPU, I’ve been able to recognize some of the challenges we have as a group as well as realize those I’m having of my own. Overall, I’m very proud of how well our team has worked together so far, and despite a few minor mishaps which can always be expected when working in a new group, all of us have been on top of completing what we were assigned to do in terms of research and addressing what still need to be done in our specific assigned area. Where we have run into what I would consider our biggest issue however, is grasping the overall concept of this project especially what certain aspects of it entail. For a period of time, it seemed as if we all had different ideas of what the objective we had to meet was, so this led to us all working on different things that all aligned but also didn’t align at the same time. After meeting with Professor Skip a few times and Professor Nagai, we were eventually put on the right track and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.
Another one of the biggest challenges of working cross-culturally in a virtual setting I would say is not having the full ability to express your thoughts and read those of others. Yes, you can express what you are thinking and grasp what others are too, but it truly isn’t the same as if our communication were in person. It’s hard to read facial expressions over Zoom and especially read body language as we are only seeing each other from the shoulders up generally. Without this body language, it’s really hard to tell if someone is either confused, upset, frustrated, and other emotion of those sorts, all of which are very important when working in a team because you want to make sure everyone is content with what the team is working on. If we were all in person, I believe that the confusion with the project objective I mentioned above wouldn’t have happened. This is because it’s certainly easier to get everyone on the same page when you can tell if someone isn’t fully grasping what we are working on through their body language. Especially since the majority of my group comes from different backgrounds and speaks different languages for the most part, I believe that this has only enhanced this issue, however, it is still manageable as it just requires lots of cooperation and communication.
Aside from the negatives such as the one just mentioned, there are also many positives to working in a cross-cultural team in a virtual setting. First off, having everything over Zoom allowed people from different countries all around Latin America and all over the United States to participate and work together. This is something that wouldn’t have been possible if this program took place in a single location in person. By being teamed up with individuals with different backgrounds, you are exposed to a variety of different perspectives, each shaped from different life experiences which is truly priceless. I always love hearing when someone on my team shares an opinion and adds an annotation from their life as it’s usually something I haven’t experienced on my own. An example of this would be presenting the group with different ways to give our presentation based on projects completed in the past for different companies and such which I always find intriguing as personally, I haven’t done anything like this project before so it’s all unexplored territory to me.
Over the course of this program so far, I would say my team is still working on developing a strong sense of trust with each other. Initially, right after getting started, obviously there had been no trust built yet as we were just meeting each other. Personally, I feel as if first impressions mean a lot and based on them I can usually get a feel for someone and whether or not I will be able to trust them. Although first impressions don’t tell everything about a person, and making assumptions from these impressions is a bad habit and something I need to work on not doing, I feel as if in the past my initial instincts have always proven to be true. Aside from first impressions, reviewing the work someone has done (if they did it at all) is also a way I determine how much I can trust someone in terms of relying on them in the future. So far, I believe that my team is pretty trustworthy, and we have done a good amount so far in terms of demonstrating that trust in the virtual setting, however, it certainly is visible who can be inconsistent at times and is often unreliable. In the big picture, we all do live very different lives and have different things going on in them so my current thoughts are certainly subject to change, but I still believe that there is still trust to be built upon within our group. When working in a team, having trust in your team members and knowing that you can rely on them to complete their tasks is so important, and as this program comes to a close, I feel as if each of my team members has the potential to gain my full trust if they haven’t already. Due to this, I’m excited to see by the final presentation if that has been achieved by everyone in my group as I would love for that to be the reality.
As for trust with our client, Marcia from Senior Concierge, I feel as if we haven’t interacted enough to know whether or not we can trust each other. Yes, there certainly is some sense of professional trust present as she’s trusting us and our opinions with making a big decision within her company, however, other than that, I feel as if we haven’t gained much personal trust in each other which I believe is partially due to the virtual environment. If this program was in person however, I think that it would be easier to connect and build upon that trust with Marcia by having several meetings and getting to know each other beyond the two sessions we have had with her so far, but given our current circumstances I believe our trust is to its full extent.
In terms of collaborating and being able to express our ideas, I think my team has done a pretty good job of this. Before we make a decision, we always hear out those who want to state their opinion and usually come to a compromise of sorts if we aren’t already on the same page which I think is pretty great. Personally, I certainly have had no trouble with expressing my recommendations at all so far in this program. I would say that I’m one of the most talkative members of our group, however, not one person overshadows everyone else or at least tries to dominate the conversation. I find this to be pretty uncommon and actually fortunate as that has been the case in some of my previous group projects and it always ends up with members feeling underrepresented and left out, tearing away from a good group dynamic. As in every group, there are some people who are pretty quiet, however, before making a decision someone in the group usually asks everyone if they are ok with the solution we came up with. As the more quiet members are never in disagreement, I assume that they actually are in agreement and aren’t just giving in to the group as in my opinion our team has created an environment where it’s safe to speak up and state your opinion even if its different than others without fear of judgement.
This past week has been pretty action packed as we had a lot going on whether it be hearing from guest speakers of different companies, meeting with Marcia, or preparing our presentation for today’s session, however, I would say that I found enjoyment in each one of those things. I love hearing from our guest speakers from different companies as the majority of the time I’m learning all new information and as these sessions go on, it’s interesting to be able to connect the dots and find commonalities between these companies. Although my group did approach our meeting with Marcia a little bit wrong as we accidentally turned it into a Q&A, I still found the information she gave us very helpful and was able to include it into my parts of the pitch. Lastly, I enjoyed putting together our presentation for today (Friday) as it led to my group having several meetings outside of the main sessions which I always like as I enjoy collaborating and talking with my group members. I can’t believe there’s only one week left of this program, it’s gone by so fast and as sad as it is to think it will be over in a blink of an eye, I’m exciting for the time we have left and to hear what ideas the other teams have come up with next Thursday!