The global pandemic has brought us into a world where the unexpected has become common place. The pace of change is increasing and disruption can come from anywhere. Owners, executives and managers face an unprecedented time of turmoil and disruption. These challenging times have forced organizations to adjust quickly. They evolve their workforces, accepting that the “new normal” involves letting go of conventional work locations and being more flexible with “office hours.” With this acceptance comes the rise of hybrid teams – workforces that are a mix of remote employees working in different locations.
It is clear that organizations will need to adapt to the concept of leveraging both on-site and off-site workers for the long term. There may be hesitation in implementing hybrid teams for the long term, as there’s worry about maintaining the same level of trust that is established when working face-to-face. However, with the right attitude and technology, building trust within hybrid teams is possible.
Yes, the hybrid work team is here to stay.
There is no perfect balance between onsite and at home workers. Whether team members are managers themselves or non-managerial employees, the decision to work from home, to work on site, or to vary between both is driven by a large number of factors. Each organization needs to find the right balance taking into account the needs of the work (how to deliver output), interaction with peers (how to collaborate), and work requirements such as customer interface.
Whatever the situation the fundamental factor does not vary – managers need to do their managerial leadership work. Managers drive the employee experience, and managers are the key to having engaged and motivated employees that are empowered to focus on the right work. The 5 requirements of effective managers are more important that ever. Effective managers must have a plan that links, through their own manager’s plan, to the organization’s overall strategic plan. They must Do their value-added work. They must set Context & Boundaries for their team members. They need to Delegate crisply and clearly to team members and hold them accountable for result through well functioning Feedback Loops.
Here are five tips on maximizing your effect as an effective manager so you can grow confidence with your hybrid team:
1. Communicate often
Delegation and collaboration are most effective when the instructions are both documented and delivered face-to-face. When teams can’t meet in person, the next best thing is to meet via video call, which is more personal and interactive than emails and texting. However you choose to communicate with your team, frequency is vital when growing trust. When team members don’t hear from each other often, especially their managers, they can feel isolated.
2. Create bonds
Find opportunities to break up the routine and connect with team members on a more personal level. Get the team together on a video conference call for ice breakers or story-telling or participate in an after-hours game night. Have virtual coffee breaks together. The more team members learn about one another, the better they will communicate and engage.
3. Be understanding
Recognize that each person on your team will have a different work-from-home setup. Not everyone will have a dedicated home office. Some will have young children, pets, or home situations that won’t resemble or sound like a traditional office. Be compassionate as each person makes adjustments to meet the requirements of working remotely successfully, even if it may mean being more flexible about work hours.
4. Be transparent
Transparency increases employee engagement, reduces barriers, and demonstrates honesty. Communicate regularly with your team about your actions, decisions, and any company-related changes and updates. And when possible, involve them in your decision-making. Being transparent also invites team members to contribute their feedback and supports the feedback loop that is critical to maintaining trust.
5. Be consistent
Creating a consistent work environment increases the team’s sense of stability and, in turn, trust. Team members need to trust that they can rely on you. To achieve this level of trust, be consistent about achieving goals or meeting deadlines on the date promised. As a manager responsible for value-added work, this may mean being reliable in leading scheduled regular conference calls or delivering weekly updates.
Whether you are the CEO or manager, your team members look to you for guidance. Effective managers need to plan, do value-added work, set context and boundaries, delegate effectively, and maintain feedback loops when building trust with hybrid teams.