Did you know that currently over 60% of new hires are requesting flexible work schedules upon interviewing? In a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in June of 2020, remote work has been an overwhelming success for both employees and employers reporting an 83% overall satisfaction rate. However, while the office may still be here to stay - its function may indeed be changing. Because interestingly enough, 87% of employees actually report that one of their top rated needs is to be able to collaborate and build relationships - which typically happens in an office type setting.
Here are five crucial areas you can focus on to promote clarity and consistency within your organization and find success leading in a hybrid culture.
1. Be Clear with Expectations
Expectations - you have them. Your team has them. And they likely are not the same.
The problem occurs when we don’t articulate them. Misaligned expectations promote distrust and foster suspicion in a culture.
As the leader, you must get clear on what you expect.
- Are staff meetings in person, virtual or hybrid?
- Do you have core hours that everyone should be in the office?
- When do you expect your team to be available when they are working remotely?
Analyze what you really expect of your team, consider whether those expectations are realistic, and then communicate them clearly.
2. Recreate the Water Cooler
Okay, maybe the water cooler is an outdated expression but you get the idea.
Teams still need time to meaningfully connect in order to build relationships that foster trust which enables them to do their work effectively.
Your job as the leader is to create moments that spark connection.
- Be intentional with the time that your team is in person. Consider how you can most effectively use that time for relational connection.
- Make video meetings engaging, not awkward. If you were in a room together, you would chit chat, you would catch up and have fun before you dove into the agenda. Don’t be stoic on video. Have an opening question that is relaxed and fun. Create connection before you dive into the agenda.
- Create a way to share successes and fun stuff. Without the casual hallway conversations, we miss out on the fun and frivolous parts of each other’s lives. Create a Slack channel for the fun stuff and actively be a part of it.
3. Set Communication Best Practices
With a hybrid team your communication challenges are amplified. And if you’re like most teams, your communication habits probably weren’t exceptional to begin with.
It’s time to get clear on communication. Which tools will you use and how will you use them? If you don’t provide this clarity, your team will default to their communication channels of preference.
For example at 4Sight:
- Email is for details and information that needs to be in writing and is relatively not urgent.
- Slack is for updates, quick questions, and to celebrate the fun stuff.
- Text is for more urgent responses.
- Phone is for urgent or sensitive subjects that require a conversation.
4. Lead Well
Leadership is critical to leading a successful hybrid team. Flexibility requires accountability. And it’s really challenging to hold people accountable to their responsibilities if we’re not present with them.
Your direct reports need your time. They need you to:
- Commit to your 1:1 time with them.
- Help them develop their work rhythms.
- Give feedback regularly.
5. Connect them with Purpose
When we lack proximity it’s easy for purpose to drift. As the leader you must stay focused on ways that you can keep the mission, vision, and values of your organization front and center for the teams you lead.
Your purpose is your competitive advantage. A clear, compelling purpose is going to help you attract the best talent and retain the best team members. It’s your job as a leader to make that purpose clear at all times.
- Remember that clarity of purpose is one of your most important jobs as a leader.
- Look for every opportunity to connect what each team member does with the mission of the organization. Connect the dots for them so that they see how they play a role in achieving the great work you do.
Every organization has been forced to pivot and find new ways to become flexible while maintaining the integrity of mission. There’s no doubt that over the past few years strategies have had to change and embracing a hybrid work culture is one of those new realities for many of us.
Your team is your greatest resource in helping you achieve your mission. Invest in them by providing clarity in these five areas and you’ll build a team that is thriving and focused as they pursue a purpose together.
Keep leading well!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group