Now more than ever, in this post-pandemic world, it is time to use our learnings from the pandemic to navigate this new hybrid working world. Many employees prefer to work from home, and leaders have to make it possible to retain top talent.
What about hybrid communication?
Effective communication is a big challenge, especially with remote working. So, in a hybrid working world, leaders need to find the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication.
On the one hand, synchronous communication is the real-time communication method that was dominant pre-COVID-19 (dynamic interactions, active engagement, and fast-paced decision-making). On the other hand, asynchronous communication is about communicating according to the availability of the receiver.
To avoid ambiguity, confusion and disengagement in hybrid teams, leaders and managers must set clear policies and goals together. It is crucial that all team members understand the role they play and their responsibilities. Leaders should facilitate the communication with the whole team in helping people to express their thoughts and assembling goals collaboratively. Create interpersonal time with the team is another common challenge with hybrid teams. In this way, there won’t be a confrontation between “in-office” employees and “remote” employees. Some tools are useful: scheduling regular video conferences with the entire team, having group calls, encouraging small talk before calls, …
Everyone is different, so everyone should have a unique hybrid work plan. It is the leader’s job to identify each person’s strengths and each person’s challenges. Micromanaging team members is however not a solution. Indeed, in-office employees and remote workers should have enough breathing room to do their job and should feel trusted by the manager and the leader because every member of the team is equally important. Then, they will express their results through open communication and regular updates. Building a system of trust among the hybrid team is crucial and encourages efficiency.
How to lead a hybrid team?
That’s a fact, with the return to the office, leaders need to adapt their behaviors if they want to excel in their new hybrid working for world and hybrid teams. This means acting with equity and empathy, reviving informal social learning, building networks, and using hybrid communication. Today, after the pandemic crisis, most employees want flexible working options. The pandemic also accelerated and amplified the need for longstanding management challenges, such as digital transformation, managing remotely, and leading through rapid change. Empowering and motivating teams, problem-solving, empathy, and emotional intelligence are specific areas that leaders are struggling with. So, leaders need to change their management and digital fluency if they want to remain competitive and agile in this new hybrid working context.
It is time for leaders to dial up their soft-skills to maximize their performance and that of their hybrid team. The solution: leading with empathy, compassion, and care, acting flexibly, being focused on network building, and using hybrid communication. The new working world must ensure the well-being of the individuals, and managers need to be able to engage in an honest and personal conversation with the employees about their mental health. This is the only way to avoid burnout and turnover in the company. Furthermore, it is important for the employees to have support and access to resources that will enable them to perform their best. It is also essential to be fair with the team, giving the same opportunities to everyone, irrespective of their location, to ensure a balanced work dynamic. As well, it will be necessary to provide access to long-distance communication for workers, like virtual social coffee calls. In this way, teams and individuals won’t be siloed from the rest of the organization.
The recipe for success includes seven ingredients. The leader should ask his people for input to be able to influence productivity, absenteeism, and safety. He should also listen to them in maintaining regular one-on-one and team meetings to increase their engagement and productivity. The leader must be accessible, manage by results and not activity, and encourage feedback without conditions. Communication is key. Equipping all team members with the resources, direction, and information needed to be successful is also essential to unite everyone around a common goal. Finally, it is important to organize several team buildings to gather people and create a positive environment.
In other words, the hybrid working context should be adaptable and display a positive mental attitude and mindset. That’s only when employees have passion and purpose in their roles that their engagement is high and the way you lead them by purpose will become a real shift.
Conclusion: What about adopting a coaching management style?
Coaching conversations contribute to finding solutions faster and having more engaged teams. Managers in this type of organization are less involved with solving problems and trust more their teams.
In a nutshell, to be an impactful hybrid leader, you must build strong online and face-to-face relationships, develop your influence skills, and achieve your common goals.
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