How to Lead in a Hybrid Environment
The way we work has changed in recent years, and along with these changes, executive expectations of employees have also changed. For example, in the past, employees were expected to spend about 80% of their time in the office. However, today, 29% of employees would consider switching employers if their company required most employees to return to the office.
However, the hybrid environment has now become the norm. As a result, leaders now have a limited ability to track workloads and conversations. And they’re increasingly starting to feel as if they’re losing control as they track progress on projects and goals.
Leaders now have a problem creating a cohesive workforce and collaborative teams. The camaraderie of the office has turned into more flexibility in the workplace, with many employees working from home. Leaders increasingly feel less effective in their leadership roles.
What is the Hybrid Work Environment?
The hybrid work environment is the collaboration of team employees who may not be working in the same location. Some may be working in the company’s office, while others work remotely some or all of the time.
Leaders now need to learn how to manage effectively in a hybrid environment. There are several management tips that can help leaders and their employees make the change to a successful hybrid work environment.
1. Acknowledge What’s New & Different with the Hybrid Environment
One of the first things leaders must do is start with the understanding that the hybrid environment is new and different. Next, leaders need to reassure their team that whether they’re working in person or remotely, or even in a combination of these, their choice is not going to harm their career. In addition, it’s essential to let these team members know their contributions will be valued.
Leaders must also establish rules for effective team collaboration, create a safe work environment for everyone, and ensure team members have the skills needed to hold honest conversations with one another, whether they’re in the office or working remotely.
The goal is to find innovative solutions, create strong morale among the team, and boost productivity within the team.
2. Require Team Members to Communicate Clearly
Successful leaders in hybrid environments have found it essential for all team members to clearly understand what’s expected of them, both in terms of their work and their communication with the team and their leader. This can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
In order to facilitate clear communication, leaders should consider using a project management tool to track progress and provide updates on project milestones. Using these tools would mean each employee must set clear roles, tangible goals, and milestones.
In addition, leaders can require their employees to check in weekly (or daily) to learn about problems, offer their support to find solutions, and ensure everyone’s workload is manageable. What’s more, their employees can be held accountable to achieve outcomes.
3. Building Trust & Togetherness
Trust & togetherness are also crucial to support employee innovation and creativity. However, traditional methods such as walking the company floor, chatting in the breakroom, or taking employees to lunch are not as effective or easy to do when many employees work outside the office.
- In addition, leaders may feel increasingly insecure and start to micromanage their employees and start to become controlling. Instead, managers need to take a more proactive role in building trust by role modelling and encouraging the following traits on their teams:
- Reliability: leaders can count on their employees to meet their commitments (in this example, that means employees need to establish reliability by checking in regularly, being punctual, getting their tasks done on time, and more).
- Acceptance: leaders should invite all people in a meeting to speak up (including those who hold differing viewpoints), establish rules for participation in the decision-making process, and recognize the traditions and habits of a diverse set of employees.
- Openness: a leader may also encourage openness with regular team check-ins each morning, holding monthly team lunches to ask questions, and more.
- Authenticity: leaders may also consider encouraging team members to share their professional backgrounds and create team rituals that encourage personal expression.
4. Engaging with Teams
Hybrid meetings can be dull and boring, causing employees to tune out mentally. Some may even turn off their cameras, check emails, or even send text messages during the meeting.
To avoid these issues, managers should aim to keep meeting short and use interactive tools to keep employees engaged in the meeting. These tools may include chat, polls, and informal competitions. In addition, managers may consider delegating decision-making and empowering their teams to develop a shared vision and goals.
5. Encouraging Team Problem Solving
Traditional managers tend to prioritise meeting their own deliverables over providing support to their teams. On the other hand, successful hybrid managers take a problem-solving perspective.
When a challenging issue comes up, they personally engage with the team and use available resources to find a solution. They also link teams up to work together on solving the problem.
Involving teams in the solution creates interest and encourages team members to take ownership of the results.
6. Focus on Spanning Boundaries
With a hybrid workforce, it’s essential for leaders to learn how to collaborate across boundaries. They must learn how to collaborate with their peers in other departments, work with stakeholders, and manage remote employees.
Summing It Up
There’s no question that leaders are faced with challenges in the new hybrid work environment. However, by following the tips above, leaders can effectively find the right way to navigate through the new challenges they’ll encounter. Leaders must be flexible and adaptable to meet these challenges.
Leading a team in a hybrid environment necessitates a different approach than leadership in a traditional office setting. With clear communication and expectations, a leader can effectively support their teams and achieve their goals in this new working environment.
The key is for a business to create a flexible culture and develop leaders who can engender trust, togetherness, and team engagement to lead their teams to success.
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