Researchers define virtual teams based on the following criteria: (1) they operate totally or partially using virtual communication tools, (2) members have diverse roles and are often geographically dispersed, and (3) they tend to have a flexible structure. As many organizations have begun operating through virtual teams, the current paper (Flavián et al., 2022) explores how personality traits, specifically extroversion and neuroticism, might influence the trust an employee places in their virtual team leader.
EMPLOYEE PERSONALITY AND VIRTUAL TRUST
Researchers (Flavián et al. 2022) collected survey data from 211 virtual team members. The results indicated that more extroverted virtual team members placed higher levels of trust in their leaders. Additionally, higher levels of trust were associated with commitment to the team. As extroverted individuals often have an enhanced ability to establish interpersonal relationships and interactions, this may explain why extroverted individuals tend to feel more comfortable and committed with their teams.
In addition, the researchers considered the degree of virtuality, or the extent that virtual communication methods were used on a team. They found that high degrees of virtuality may pose a challenge for people with high levels of neuroticism. People with high levels of neuroticism tend to experience greater negative emotions, which could have a harmful impact on trust. In this study, the findings suggested that when there was a higher degree of virtuality, there was a stronger association between neuroticism and lack of trust in the leader. Lastly, the results suggested that leader gender did not affect the impact of personality traits on trust.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
Based on these findings, the authors suggest that the performance of virtual work teams can be improved through a better understanding of the factors that impact trust. As it is easier for extroverted individuals to work in teams and to trust their leaders, the authors suggest pairing highly extroverted individuals together on complex virtual tasks. Additionally, because more neurotic employees may struggle to trust their leader in highly virtual settings, leaders should decrease the virtuality of work for these employees.
Flavián, C., Guinalíu, M., & Jordán, P. (2022). Virtual teams are here to stay: How personality traits, virtuality and leader gender impact trust in the leader and team commitment. European Research on Management and Business Economics, 28(2), 100193.
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