Are you ready to lead a hybrid team?

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Friday, September 17, 2021

Fast Company

You may not be ready to lead a hybrid team. Here's what to know

By: Carson Tate


Exclusion. Inequality. Inefficiency. Isolation.

These are a few of the challenges a hybrid workforce leader must address and overcome if they want to lead a high-performing, agile team.

Here’s how.

One of the challenges of a hybrid workplace is proximity bias which leads to the incorrect assumption that team members who are in the office are more productive than team members who are working remotely. Create a culture that supports and enables remote workers to be visible, engaged, and active contributors to the team.

Conduct all team meetings via Zoom: A meeting where some of your team members are in person and other team members are joining via video conferencing technology creates inequities. The team members who are in the same physical space can readily observe non-verbal communication, the shoulder shrug or clenched hand of the person sitting next to them, while your remote team members only see a flat face on the screen. Video conferencing is the great equalizer. Everyone is on the same level—in a small Brady Bunch box staring at each other.

Support asynchronous work: Record all meetings so your team members have access to the information they need and have the freedom to complete tasks on their own timetable. Send out meeting agendas 24 to 48 hours in advance so team members can opt in or out of the meeting based on the meeting objective, whether they are needed to achieve it, and their availability. Proactively align each team member to different projects, cross-functional teams, and initiatives to combat out-of-sight-out-of-mind for your remote team members.

Eliminate ambiguity: Your team cannot be effective if there are ambiguous expectations.

Ensure goals and timelines are clear. Empower your team members to align their time and energy to complete the important work vs. the nice to have work. Address and eliminate rework, work that can be automated, and operational inefficiencies that impede productivity and performance.

  • Start a 20-minute Monday huddle.
  • Assess your communication to determine if it passes the “champagne test.” You know you passed the test if your team knows when to “pop the cork” and celebrate the successful achievement of the goal.
  • Identify the deadline and assess if this deadline impacts the team’s other priorities. If so, what work must be reprioritized or eliminated?

Ensure accountability: Identify who has the “A” or is accountable for the completion of the project. Only one person can be accountable. This does not mean they will complete all the work. However, it does mean they are responsible and must ensure that the work is completed.

  • Is there a clear division of tasks? Does each team member understand their specific tasks?
  • What tool will you use to support and maintain accountability? For example, dashboards, checklists, scorecards, and regular, consistent check-ins.

Support your team members’ social needs: A hybrid workplace requires an intentional balance between social and transactional team member interactions. Back-to-back Zoom calls have left many team members feeling disconnected from their manager and colleagues due to the formal, transactional structure of these calls. Humans are social animals. We want to connect with our colleagues and miss the informal, spontaneous exchanges that occurred in the office breakroom or hallway.

  • Allow and create space on your calendar for informal connections with your team members that are agenda-free, spontaneous, and casual.
  • Create opportunities for the team to learn about each other – their work, their personal hobbies, and interests.
  • Schedule in-person team social events or activities. For example, can the team go on a hike, bike rides, or have a happy hour at guar local park?
  • Ask your team members how they want to support each other’s social needs and balance social and transactional team interactions.

Leading a high-performance, engaged hybrid team requires that the employee experience is the same whether team members are in the office two days a week, five, or never. Leaders of today’s workforce must emphasize inclusion, eliminate ambiguity, ensure accountability, and support their team members’ social needs.

So, are you ready to lead a hybrid team?


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