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Effectively Manage Your Hybrid Team

There’s no better time to show your boss some extra appreciation than on National Boss’ Day (October 16 this year!). Effectively managing a team in the evolving work world is no easy feat. From adapting to countless workplace shifts and continuing to embrace progress, modern leaders stepped up to the plate and made a variety of transitions appear seamless.

Now, leaders find themselves supporting teams comprised of people that they sometimes see face-to-face and others they see in a square-shaped virtual icon, all while creating a collaborative culture and encouraging high performance between these sets of employees. Successfully managing a hybrid team requires a unique skillset. We’re outlining five ways for leaders to create an effective hybrid work environment:

1. Promote inclusion and visibility

Thanks to increased flexibility, the hybrid workforce is made up of three different kinds of employees – remote, in-office, and hybrid: a mix of both. While this flexibility can increase employee satisfaction, be aware of the tendency to show favoritism and give preferential treatment to the individuals working in the office – known as proximity bias. Acknowledging the existence of this bias is the first step towards creating a more inclusive workplace. Remember, out of sight does not mean out of mind, and remote work is neither a reward nor a punishment.

Strive to build a workplace in which all employees, regardless of their physical work location, have equal access and opportunities. Make sure that everyone receives the same amount of professional support, including mentorship and talent development, and personal support such as flexible work hours to meet personal obligations. When considering employees for assignments or promotions, base your decision-making on talent, experience, and performance rather than who comes into the office most often.

Make yourself accessible to everyone by keeping lines of communication open. Check email and Slack messages regularly throughout the workday and allocate time for one-on-one check-ins. During these regular check-ins, make it a habit to ask about any challenges that individuals are facing and work towards figuring out how to overcome them. Remind employees to reach out if they need help or have questions.

2. Set clear expectations and outcomes

Avoid confusion and disengagement on your team by ensuring that employees understand your expectations of them. How promptly does everyone need to reply to client emails? What virtual meetings require all cameras to be on? Clearly communicating employee expectations will help them thrive; remember to keep those expectations attainable and realistic. An acceptable email response time might look like one business day rather than one or two hours, for example.

When setting goals and outcomes for each individual, include them in the brainstorming process. Use this conversation to learn about each employee’s personal goals and use those to form role-specific expectations and outcomes. Explain how achieving these can benefit their career trajectory and help them meet their short-term and long-term career goals – whether that looks like a raise, promotion, or the development of certain skills. Don’t forget to provide performance feedback regularly to maintain clarity surrounding expectations and allow the opportunity for employees to adjust their behavior if necessary.

3. Trust your team

If employees clearly understand their role and responsibilities and demonstrate a positive work ethic, you should count on them to perform well. Once you’ve made your expectations clear, avoid micromanaging: the days of managing by butts in seats are long gone. Unless someone has given you a reason to think otherwise, assume positive intent and allow space for autonomy. You can provide support without hovering by expressing that you’re available to provide guidance and assistance if needed.

When you demonstrate trust by giving employees space to accomplish their work, they’ll feel empowered to do their best work. Individuals who work on high trust teams report 50% higher productivity than those on low trust teams. Believe in your employees’ knowledge and experience. You hired them for a reason, right?

4. Maintain company culture

If the Great Resignation taught us anything, it’s that employees value more than money and job titles. They want to work fulfilling jobs with a company whose mission, vision, and values they feel aligned with. Work culture is actually the top predictor of workplace satisfaction. This means that it pays to put effort into building a positive company culture since it can help retain talent. What does that look like in the hybrid space, though?

Make sure to connect the roles and responsibilities of your employees to the company’s greater purpose. Explain the “why” behind the work – like how specific tasks contribute to the mission of the entire organization. Connect employees back to the company as much as possible by aligning positive feedback with how an individual exhibited specific core values through their work. Consider how you acknowledge achievements as well. Your employees want to feel valued and appreciated and taking a little bit of extra time to recognize accomplishments goes a long way. Here at Careerstone Group, we start our weekly team meeting off by sharing our own “weekly wins” with each other to celebrate what has been working well for us. You can also send an email thanking someone for a valuable contribution.

Set aside time for non-work activities and create opportunities to meet in-person, too. This could look like hosting a yearly retreat with teambuilding activities or scheduling lunches and happy hours periodically. These opportunities allow co-workers to bond with each other, helping them feel more connected to their work and the workplace.

5. Practice empathy and compassion

The world has been in a constant state of uncertainty and volatility for the past three years, and that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The long-term implications of COVID and a looming recession, combined with regular work stressors mean employees now struggle with the added weight of all of new personal and professional challenges. Now, leaders need to lean into connecting with their teams on a more personal level and prioritizing their well-being.

By tapping into the learned ability to empathize, leaders can recognize how their employees feel and understand their viewpoints. Great leaders go a step further to display compassion and offer support to those experiencing difficulties. You can put this into practice by setting up one-on-one check-ins to begin cultivating meaningful relationships and find out how your team is really doing. Humanizing the workplace benefits the well-being of your team and workplace by reducing anxiety, making employees feel valued, strengthening commitment to the organization, and decreasing turnover rates.

BONUS Tip: When you ask your employees to come into the office, make that time count! Be present with a purpose and give people a reason to want to come in.

Those who have managed hybrid teams know that it’s vastly different than managing an all in-person or even all-remote team. Making some crucial shifts in the way you lead will positively impact your team. If you want personalized suggestions on how to lead and succeed with a hybrid work model, contact us to schedule a training today!

Leaders and managers don’t just manage numbers—they manage people! Check out our course to learn even more manager skills:

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