Leaders and managers are being forced to upend their leadership game because of a new workplace trend that's here to stay--the hybrid workforce.
The question of whether to return to office (affectionately known as RTO) or to continue working remotely as we have been accustomed to doing during the pandemic, has been one that has aroused much conflict, disparate opinions and views. Some have been more vocal than others, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk or J.P. Morgan boss Jamie Dimon). The very mention of the subject provokes tension in the media, online, and in workplaces between teams and management. Whether we'll all ever agree on the right balance of office and in person work, and how to create inclusive hybrid policies is a consideration for another time, but for now, one thing remains certain:
For companies to be truly successful and remain competitive, the hybrid teams of 2024 require a different approach to leadership and management, and a flex in management styles compared to previous years.
When navigating the complexities of your position and considering how you play a pivotal role as a people leader or manager within your organization, there are a few do's and don'ts you must bear in mind:
What To Avoid In Hybrid Leadership
Micromanagement: There's nothing like feeling someone is always watching you at every minute. This feeling of not being trusted hampers productivity. Instead of focusing on specific locations and times (unless absolutely necessary due to the nature of the work), trust your team members to deliver results. Lead to deliver outcomes and place the focus on this more than anything else. Teams that feel trusted will perform and function better.
Communication Breakdown: In all of my roles as project or contract manager, I always made a point of ensuring that there were clear lines of communication and that whether based at home or in the office, my team and stakeholders could easily reach me. Being easily accessible helped me nip any potential conflicts or misunderstandings in the bud, countless times.
Overlooking Wellbeing: Stress and burnout can occur in any role, although it may be more difficult to pick up the signs of burnout if your employee is working remotely.
Favoritism: One of the downsides of having employees who work from the office most or all of the time, compared to those who work predominantly from home, is that favoritism can seep in, albeit sometimes unintentionally. It's essential to be aware of this and be careful to treat all team members fairly, giving them equal opportunities for professional development, promotions, and training. Remember, location does not necessarily equal less work.
Isolation: Finally, be keenly aware that since your workforce is diversified across multiple locations and even regions, all should be able to participate in work, meetings, and training opportunities so far as possible. Although they may appreciate working remotely due to their flexibility needs, sometimes they may feel isolated due to lack of workplace banter that often stereotypically occurs around the water coolers or back and forth between desks.
Remember, location does not necessarily equal less work.
What To Do Instead
Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular one-on-ones and team check-ins to discuss progress, address concerns, and maintain a sense of connection among team members. This helps maintain a sense of visibility and enables transparency and trust.
Encourage Teams To Take Responsibility: Empower your team members to take ownership of their work. Provide guidance, coaching, and support along the way, but also allow them the autonomy to make decisions and contribute to the team's success.
Invest In Collaborative Technology: Equip your team with the tools and training needed to seamlessly navigate both in-person and remote work environments. This means ensuring that everyone has access to reliable video conferencing platforms, project management tools, and collaboration software.
Host In-Person Team-Building Days: Hosting in-person team days for hybrid teams offers numerous benefits such as the chance for everyone to get to know each other beyond the remit of their roles, forging stronger personal connections, and solving complex business challenges through brainstorming and other in-person activities.
Empower Your Team: Last but not least, coach your team to take ownership of their work so they have a sense of accountability and take pride and responsibility for their work. This will improve the quality of their output, regardless of where they are based.
Look out for the red flags in your leadership style, and adjust to incorporate the "do's" listed above. As a result, you can create a positive and inclusive work environment this year, that fosters collaboration, supports the well-being of team members, and of course, maximizes productivity and profitability.
As a LinkedIn Top Voice, Forbes Contributor, and corporate coach, I have had the privilege of mentoring and coaching numerous managers throughout my career. From recruitment to tech, non-profits to education, and even hospitality. I have seen first-hand the transformative power of effective leadership. Seven of my own employees were promoted and progressed to other roles internally as a result of my coaching leadership approach.
Imagine the incredible possibilities that await your organization when you fully leverage your existing talent. If you're ready to witness transformational results and take your business to new heights, join forces with me.
There are are a few ways that I can help you: