Leadership and Management in a Hybrid Workplace
From organising business meetings to managing innovation and continuous improvement, today’s leaders are facing drastically diverse challenges. Even after the pandemic has passed, many workplaces have adapted to a hybrid set up.
But how do you efficiently lead a team that’s scattered all over? Here are some key areas to be mindful of:
- Relationships and Culture
- Innovations and Technology
- Empowering Your Team
Communication is at the core of your operations. And although everyone is talking about this, many teams still struggle to foster good and honest communication within its members. The challenge doubles in a hybrid workplace where communication mainly involves emails and direct messages that more often can get misunderstood or misinterpreted. Without body language to back up one’s message, it is more difficult to get it across. Some people are naturally gifted with the skill of crafting perfectly empathetic emails, but some are not. So how do we upgrade our communication processes to thrive in the modern workplace?
The key to an efficient communication strategy is being able to identify the right presentation method to use depending on content and audience. For example, when trying to convey instructions instead of information, written communication might serve you better because people will have the chance to go back to them again later. Sometimes, we also tend to make our processes unnecessarily complicated. Simple information can be relayed through direct or chat messages instead of the more formal email, or even the more disruptive video meeting. However, there are also instances where a video meeting is a must, so we can gauge our team’s reactions and interest level.
Ultimately, we have at our disposal a plethora of ways to communicate. What makes a good leader and manager is knowing what communication channels and methods to use depending on the needs of the team and the organsiation.
Relationships and Culture
You’ve heard it before. A person spends most of their time spending it with people they work with than with their friends and family. This was without a doubt true before working from home or remotely has been a thing. Today, many employees are lucky to be working and at the same time still be with family. However, this set up has taken a toll on how workplace relationships grow and how company culture is cultivated.
A good workplace relationship relies heavily on communication, trust, and teamwork. But beyond this, it is important to understand that with one’s different roles within an organisation, different expectations and responsibilities also follow. For example, as a manager, your relationship to those whom you manage is different than your ideal relationship with other relevant stakeholders. In understanding your different workplace identities, you also know which hat to wear at a particular time.
In a hybrid or remote set up, it is even more important to have clear roles and responsibilities so people can adjust and better manage their relationships with coworkers.
Innovations and Technology
With technological tools at our fingertips, it is much easier than before to identify points of weaknesses within the organisation, and also find where innovation can greatly help to improve processes and operations. However, the real challenge lies on the leadership’s ability to facilitate and manage innovation that the modern world has provided us.
Perhaps the difficulty that a hybrid set up brings in facilitating innovation is teammates might not fully grasp or understand the contexts of challenges being tried to address. Outside the four walls of an office, people tend to mind only their own tasks and not bother finding out how others are doing, or if others are having difficulties and why. Without these contexts, no matter how a leader tries to introduce innovative processes, team members will find it challenging to function as one unit.
This problem is not a difficult one, however. Because technology will also provide you with the solution. Aside from utilising apps and software that lets the team know each other’s tasks and timeline, simple group chats where anyone can simply ask for help at any time can also make a world of difference. Managers should also be very proactive in asking team members to share their everyday struggles (but also don’t forget to celebrate together small victories!).
Empowering Your Team
It is indeed important to first assess your team and your team members’ individual strengths and skills. And then use those strengths as springboard for continuous improvement. One misconception surrounding this aspect of human resource is that we always have to play and stick to people’s strengths. It is often forgotten that soft skills can drastically improve an organisation’s over all wellbeing. Critical and creative thinking are teachable skills, and it is up to effective leaders to establish an environment that encourages both.
Establishing an environment that encourages and fosters critical and creative thinking might be more difficult in a hybrid set up. So how do modern-day leaders go about this? Aside from using the aids that technology can provide us (work streams, crowdsourcing ideas, brainstorming together through video calls), one key ingredient to create an environment where people take the time and effort to critically think is care. Create an environment where team members care about each other and the organisation’s wellbeing, and they will exert effort in criticality and creativity.
Being a leader in a hybrid workplace is no easy task. We do not only want to overcome challenges, but we want to thrive as managers and directors. We are tasked to lead our team’s development and at the same time seek development and improvement within ourselves. Through quality courses, you attain not only certifications that can help you further your career, but more importantly, equip you with the knowledge, skills, and tools that you can use to be an effective leader---hybrid or not.
*For more in-depth understanding, best practices, and practical advice on Leadership and Management, check out our BSB40520 - Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, BSB50420 - Diploma of Leadership and Management, and BSB60420 - Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management on Leadership and Management.