While the majority of the business workforce was forced to make an unexpected shift to remote working in 2020, there is a new working model that is rapidly gaining traction. As we slowly move into a post-pandemic world, hybrid remote working has emerged as a popular choice, as employees do want to experience some time in the office but want the flexibility to work from home.
Many companies are embracing this, with 63% of high-revenue growth companies embracing hybrid working models. However, hybrid work models do bring a new challenge to leaders; they need to adapt their strategies to maintain accountability, balance engagement versus disengagement, and focus while continuing to drive performance.
With less direct visibility and fewer opportunities for impromptu conversations, leaders must adopt new approaches to effective leadership in this new working model. Successfully navigating the hybrid work environment requires a nuanced approach that combines engagement, multi-layered awareness, and being in just-the-right synchrony with yourself and the larger world.
Let’s explore some dynamic strategies that can be adopted to help both leaders and employees adapt to this new flexible working model.
Managing Performance By Being More Impact-Focused
In a hybrid work environment, managing performance becomes less about the number of hours logged and more about outcomes and impact. Naturally, remote working brings about the worry of less work being done, as there is less visibility and control.
However, successful managers and leaders need to shift their focus to impacts and results, allowing performance metrics to speak louder than mere presence. Embracing impact-focused management gets better results, as you trust your employers to make smart decisions, encouraging autonomy and responsibility in team members.
Leaders can do a few things to support their employees in managing performance, such as setting clear milestones and goals to align remote and in-office team members towards the same goal. Besides just setting goals, leaders also need to help create meaningfulness and help people discover meaning in the work they do as they are alone.
Here at our Integrative Presence training program, we believe that leaders need to empower others to be and become role models for their employees to trust and feel empowered by. We help leaders achieve this by offering the relational coaching and leadership approach and helping them inspire disengaged employees by becoming the impactful role model they need to trust.
Setting Clear Expectations for Communication
Effective communication has always been an important challenge for successful leadership and this is only exacerbated in a hybrid environment, as companies often struggle with communicating effectively in a remote working environment.
To start off, leaders can set clear expectations regarding communication protocols to bridge the gap between the remotely working teams. They also need to learn how to be present in meetings in a way that is engaging; in our Integrative Presence program, we teach leaders how to show up, be responsive with purposeful impact, and bring positive impact to their interactions. This can look like establishing guidelines for responsiveness, preferred communication channels, and meeting structures.
Another essential in a hybrid model is the importance of balancing both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication, such as video conferences and real-time messaging, can be great in fostering collaboration and getting that immediate response needed. On the other hand, asynchronous communication, where people can reply on their own time, allows every team member to collaborate flexibly while accommodating diverse schedules. Teams should embrace both these communication styles according to the needs of different teams and projects.
Revive Upskilling and Social Learning
Unfortunately, a valuable aspect of work that has diminished with the rise of remote working is informal social learning between colleagues. This happens through daily interactions in the workplace, whether it is between colleagues across different departments or from constructive supervisor and peer feedback. The main issue is that as humans, we often feel more engaged when we connect in person. With the medium of communication changing, leaders need to upskill in terms of creating a presence that is still as meaningful, impactful, and in synchrony with all stakeholders.
However, the appetite for learning and upskilling has not decreased; in fact, Gen Z workers are more willing to learn than ever, with over 75% of them believing learning is the key to a successful career, according to LinkedIn Learning’s survey.
It’s no secret that employees’ upskilling and learning and development (L&D) are crucial to the success of the organization; leaders need to support that by encouraging a culture that values learning and growth. This can be done by providing resources and support for ongoing education, such as virtual training sessions, workshops, and mentorship programs.
Leaders also need to invest in the professional development of team members by dedicating time to help them learn, as well as empower them to use their new skills. This not only helps individual employees grow but also contributes to the overall adaptability and resilience of the organization with a culture of learning.
Lead With Empathy,Compassion, and Care
Lastly, the pandemic has had a great impact on the need for empathetic leadership, as it has become more crucial than ever. In fact, over 40% of employees want their managers to have an honest conversation with them about their mental health. Now, more than ever, leaders and managers need to recognize the unique challenges faced by remote team members and respond with compassion and understanding.
Realistically, leading with empathy can look like gauging the well-being of team members and being responsive by addressing any concerns promptly. This can be in the form of regular check-ins and one-to-ones, where they acknowledge individual circumstances, offer flexibility, and provide emotional support. Besides simply showing up, leaders need to make sure that their presence is meaningful, and achieves engagement and purposeful impact.
It’s about your energy, how you show up, and how you show up with others differently. At Integrative Presence, we have established four spheres that influence our presence in any situation, based on academic research. Our coaching and leadership program is built around helping leaders achieve a purposeful and impactful presence based on these spheres.
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At the end of the day, successfully leading and empowering teams in a hybrid work environment requires a multifaceted approach. Leadership is not always a straightforward path and by embracing these strategies, leaders can be one step closer to better leadership and cultivating a high-performing team amidst the challenges of the hybrid work environment.
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