How to be an effective leader when your team is hybrid working
As more businesses are adopting hybrid working, employers are being challenged to evolve the way in which they manage and support their teams to ensure they are not letting productivity, efficiency, or morale slip. As someone who joined a new organisation just weeks before the first UK lockdown was introduced in March 2020, Jon Pickering CEO of workplace data analytics company Tiger, offers his advice on what leaders can focus on to get the best out of their teams.
There has been no question that the pandemic has brought about its own set of challenges and opportunities for every organisation to consider, regardless of their sector. Brands have completely diversified their position to remain relevant, enterprises have downsized their workplaces to save costs, and many employees have adapted swiftly to stay connected via video calls and instant messaging, to fill the void of face-to-face meetings.
Remote working may have been a difficult concept for many managers to navigate – especially those who were so used to doing everything from the company headquarters. But this way of operating has also presented an array of advantages for colleagues, including fewer distractions and the opportunity to prioritise their wellbeing.
Effective leadership has now never been more vital – from motivating colleagues who may be experiencing video call fatigue and isolation, to investing in savvy unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) tools to stay connected.
As businesses continue to adapt as COVID-19 restrictions ease, hybrid working has become a popular balance for employees to enjoy the camaraderie of the office alongside taking in quieter moments to concentrate while at home. Here are three ways to effectively manage a team that is both in and out of your company premises…
- Continue to hold meetings where possible, but don’t overdo it
UC&C platforms – such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Google Hangouts – have truly come into their own throughout the global crisis, as people looked for safer and socially distanced alternatives to in-person meetings.
And while it’s important to use these tools to their advantage, it’s even more vital that managers don’t fall into the trap of being the driver of workforce ‘video fatigue’. Yes, it’s important to be present and available for colleagues so they still feel they can come to you with their concerns or questions, but don’t hold check-ins for the sake of it.
Make meetings a mixture of face-to-face and virtual – depending on where people are based – and ensure they’re both formal and informal, and varied in length depending on what’s on the agenda. For example, you could opt for shorter check-ins online so that you’re minimising people’s screen-time.
Encourage colleagues to drive the conversation too – as a leader you’re often there to listen and feed back, as well as understand how they’re feeling, so you can provide relevant support both in-person and virtually.
- Share your company goals and vision in an accessible way
Alongside encouraging employees to come to you with their queries and concerns, it’s important you do the same too, so they can visualise the future roadmap of the business – and how they can impact your growth plans.
Plan in a time when you can present your vision to staff – and make sure it’s accessible for both online and office-based personnel. Strong leaders are often the ones who are agile in these situations and can provide an inclusive experience regardless of where their teams are based.
Be clear in your delivery, ensure virtual colleagues can hear and understand you, and don’t forget them when you’re inviting questions. If you have several people dialling in online, perhaps invite them to send in their questions before or have a Q&A at the end where they can send their query in via the ‘chat’ option and have someone monitor as they come in.
Effectively communicating the business’s strategic direction – and doing so at the earliest opportunity – means you’re more likely to have employees join you on the journey straightaway too.
- Provide online and in-person learning and development opportunities
A colleague who is committed to building their skillset is an incredibly valuable one, so harness their dedication to training and use it to fuel – and inspire – others to develop their attributes.
When people work remotely, they might often feel isolated so it’s important you’re offering them just as much support as you would your office-based workers. As such, take advantage of communication tools such as video check-ins, instant messages, emails and telephone calls.
Above all else, trust that your workforce is committed to learning both online and in-person, and guide, nurture, and equip them with the right equipment to access their course, relevant webinar, or one-to-one mentoring session.
An effective leader should communicate well, be motivational, positive, and embrace a hybrid working model because it’s a great opportunity to provide a flexible way of working for employees. Not only are you offering them an environment that helps to prioritise their wellbeing, but you’re empowering them to manage their time and productivity – all of which helps to drive forward the future of the business that comes complete with a thriving workforce.
- Watch out for video fatigue, hold meetings only when necessary, and consider which meetings can be virtual and which will be better in person.
- Present a clear vision to your staff and take care to adapt your delivery to be inclusive of colleagues joining your meeting virtually.
- Ensure everyone in your team has the resources they need to access learning opportunities.
- For more helpful advice on returning to work, visit UMi’s new platform: https://www.weareumi.co.uk/webapp/
Jon Pickering is CEO of Hampshire-based Tiger, a workplace data analytics software firm that collates trillions of pieces of data via unified communications and collaboration solutions to businesses in sectors including healthcare, public sector, insurance, manufacturing, aerospace and logistics.