‘Out of the Office but not out of Work’ – Leading Teams in a hybrid world
Fostering an inclusive team culture where people feel motivated, stay focussed and work with integrity is hard enough for leaders to maintain, especially in an environment where the only constant is change and we face long periods of uncertainty. The fact that we are moving into a hybrid world of working with many of our team members working from home and all of us being connected virtually adds to the challenge.
I am working with a client in Melbourne who was struggling with keeping up team morale as employees went from working in the office to being in lockdown, moving back into the office and going back to WFH. It seems every week is different, and the constant change makes it hard to stay consistent. The leadership team went back to the drawing board and came up with a series of interventions, including setting up a social communication channel, team wine downs (optional), regular check-in sessions, a buddy system and recognition and reward programs. It only took a couple of weeks for the wider to recognise the positive change which started to impact conversations, engagement and productivity.
What is a Hybrid Team?
Our workplaces are shifting, and people are asking for more flexibility. A survey by Hays says that ‘Variations in employee circumstances, preferences or requirements within the same workforce could lead to the rise of hybrid teams, which are teams in which some members work in the one co-located workplace while others work remotely. So, each day at your workplace could look very different, with part of your team coming into the office on some days, and others staying at home. This is an entirely new challenge for most leaders, so it’s important to think now about how you might best lead your newly hybrid team in the not-too-distant future.’ https://www.hays.com.au/blog/-/blogs/what-is-a-hybrid-team-and-how-do-i-lead-one-
Flexibility and agility by leaders are key. The foundations of leading a team haven’t changed but leaders need to think on their feet and adapt to the new style of hybrid workplaces. Being out of the offices means people are missing the social connection with others, motivation decreases, fear increases, and many team members feel lost.
Lead-self, lead-others in a hybrid world
As we know good leadership starts with yourself and in a hybrid world, leaders need to adapt and change their mindset
- Assume everyone does their best
- Trust that people will deliver
- Don’t assume that everyone’s WFH is the same = empathy
- Allow equal time for yourself and others
- Fill up your cup, look after your own physical and mental health
Every remote role depends on technology first, and anything that gets in the way of that will only set your productivity back. Budget for updated, reliable technology—nothing kills your team’s motivation faster than a laptop crashing or slow programs that trudge through daily tasks.
Communicate & Coach:
- Have more regular 1:1’s but don’t always have video on (people suffer from Zoom fatigue)
- Actively reach out to your introverts but don’t expect them to join all the social activities
- Be more coach-like: ask more questions to find out how your people are doing and where they need help
Teamwork & Collaboration:
- Use technology and platforms well. Involve your teams and let them come up with ideas on what channels to use
- Do mini hackathons or run team challenges to keep motivation up and be productive
- Have structures for Reward and Recognition: shout outs and physical reward prizes
Feedback and offer solutions:
- Make feedback a habit; ask for and give feedback in every session
- Use EBI’s (even better if) not only for the work people deliver but also for your meetings. This way you can gauge what works and what doesn’t
Delegate and setting expectations:
- Be clear when setting expectations. As you have less of an overview when out of the office, create accountability platforms (tech) for easy follow-up
- Create a visual scoreboard to capture shared goals
- Manage accomplishments, not activity: don’t micro-manage but look for collective and personal performance goals
- Celebrate wins and focus on progress
As the world around changes, leaders also have to change. What worked last month might not work now. Checking in with ourselves and others, asking for feedback and re-creating the hybrid workplace over and over again will make us stay at the top of our game and keep our remote teams motivated and focussed.
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