Ryan McCrea, Vice President, Manager of Talent Development, Commerce Bank
Many global organizations have worked hybrid for years, but this new reality has rocked many small and medium-sized companies. Leaders are looking far and wide for some guidance on how to lead hybrid teams.
As leaders, we need to get back to the basics and focus on three areas: defining structure, ongoing conversations, and leading differently.
DEFINING STRUCTURE: If you have employees in different locations, you need to be very clear about your vision and expectations. This is nothing new, but it’s especially important when you don't have proximity playing in your favor. This all needs to be wrapped in a growth mindset view. As you learn more how to work this way, you will have to pivot multiple times and not be afraid to iterate. I have already seen this play out. People are excited to get back to the office until they figure out that they are spending most, if not all, of the day on virtual meetings.
ONGOING CONVERSATIONS: Keeping in touch with your employees is paramount as your team shifts to more hybrid work. You need to be intentional and have frequent one-on-one conversations to stay in tune with your employees since you might not see each other in person as often. Make a point to ask about each employee’s wellbeing. Avoid generic, “How’s it going?" questions and dig a bit deeper. Listen for signs of stress, loss of motivation or exhaustion.
“We all need to shift our thinking about productivity in this new hybrid world.”
We all need to shift our thinking about productivity in this new hybrid world. As leaders (and human beings) we often get hung up and focused on what we can see. For example, "Bobby spent ten hours at his desk today. He sure was productive." Do we really know that? How do you know what your employee is working on at their desk? Bobby might have spent three hours on TMZ Tuesday. We need to challenge ourselves to measure productivity by outcomes, not by hours visible by management.
LEADING DIFFERENTLY: During the pandemic the line between work and home has been blurred. We have had a peek into each other’s homes, family life, pets and even struggles. We as leaders had to show more empathy, use our listening skills, and in some ways be more vulnerable. Pandora's box has been opened. Topics like Dr. Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead™ curriculum, emotional intelligence and psychological safety are being discussed more than ever. People will continue to expect more from their leaders and some leaders might need to increase their self-awareness around this skillset.
One of the potential downsides to hybrid work is a deepening of proximity bias. Proximity bias is the idea that employees with close physical proximity to their team and company leaders are perceived as better workers and ultimately find more success in the workplace than their remote counterparts. As leaders, it's important to provide opportunities for exposure and visibility to all our employees – because that’s what often leads to promotions. We must be very intentional to ensure our remote and hybrid team members don’t miss out.
Simon Sinek says, "We build trust in-between the meetings." We may not have as many of those moments. We all need to be more intentional now as leaders. Whether it's setting up a meeting for socialization, having a virtual team happy hour, connecting outside of work or getting the team together for moments that matter to build culture and comradery. Find ways to help others build connections.
Is your company ready for the shift in leadership?
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