There’s no denying that hybrid and remote work environments are here to stay. 63% of high-growth companies embrace the hybrid model while 69% of companies with negative or no growth prefer onsite or 100% remote modalities (Accenture).
The numbers make it clear; people prefer hybrid work environments and are more likely to flourish in them.
While the additional flexibility of hybrid environments is a fantastic indicator of employee success and productivity, they also present a unique challenge for managers: learning how to lead in a partially virtual setting.
As with any non-traditional environment, the right leadership skills are essential for a successful outcome. Hybrid environments can be especially tricky for leaders who find themselves juggling both the responsibilities of a remote and on-site workplace.
A recent survey from Microsoft found that, despite consistent rates of productivity, 85% of leaders feel that the hybrid model has made it increasingly challenging to remain confident in employee engagement at work.
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So–how can managers rest assured that their hybrid teams are performing as needed while keeping top talent happy?
Keep reading to discover 5 common leadership mistakes to avoid and best practices to cultivate great hybrid management skills.
One of the pitfalls of managing a distanced team is the feeling that you have to overdo things in order to avoid losing track of all the moving parts.
In practice, however, this creates a culture of micromanagement that leads to employees feeling like they’re being watched at every turn.
A study from Trinity Solutions on micromanaged employees found that:
- 69% said they considered changing jobs because of micromanagement
- 71% said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance
- 85% said their morale was negatively impacted
In the end, keeping too close of a watch on your team’s activity may actually result in increased employee burnout, resentment, and turnover.
2. Avoiding change
Change is inevitable–especially in a hybrid environment! While there’s comfort in consistency, sometimes leaning too far into existing routines creates unnecessary rigidity.
Rigid structures and a lack of adaptability don’t leave room for new learnings; the development of leadership skills stagnates if we avoid embracing what’s new.
In a hybrid workplace, adapting to change is the name of the game!
3. Too many meetings!
With a decreased ability to schedule in-person meetings, there can be a tendency to schedule one (or 20) too many virtual facetimes.
Even though it can be tempting to just meet and talk rather than send a Slack or an email, too many Zoom calls or Google Meets can lead to meeting fatigue. This leads to lessened creativity and increased disengagement.
A recent RedRex survey of remote workers about the top causes of remote fatigue revealed that:
- 56% feel its caused by meetings that run too long
- 49% feel its caused by meetings that have no purpose
- 52% feel its caused by staring at a screen for too long
Although meetings are key for communicating on a team, the hybrid setting requires careful consideration of how we approach (and re-think) communication.
4. Too little emphasis on feedback
It can be intimidating to collect feedback, especially when you’re new to managing a team. Feedback is key for uncovering key mistakes and refining leadership skills!
Without a dedicated stream of upwards communication, it becomes impossible to develop the mutual trust that is key to the success of distributed teams. Avoiding input from your team won’t lead to successful results, it will only create a culture of alienation.
5. Undefined core values
Core values are essential for the success of any team. Without clearly defined values, any environment is vulnerable to failure. A values-driven environment is instrumental for maintaining unity, even more so on hybrid teams!
A Forbes study shows that people are actually willing to make less money if the organization they’re working in holds values closely tied to their own personal beliefs.
Core values are 100% necessary to lay the foundation for a strong team.
Now that we’ve identified some of the most common mistakes leaders make, how can you avoid them in order to lead your hybrid team effectively?
Leave space for the unknown (and embrace it)
Hybrid environments are new for many of us. As a leader, it can be difficult to admit when something is unclear, but in times of uncertainty, transparency is key!
Be honest with your team and let them know that you’re learning just as much as they are.
Leave room for new learnings and growth in everyday processes. Empower your team members to plan out their own remote work schedules and trust them to complete projects.
It’s not about the mistakes leaders make, it’s about learning from them in order to become great leaders.
Lean into virtual support systems and employee engagement programs
Hybrid work presents the opportunity to lean into the best of virtual systems.
Since you’re no longer leading a team that’s solely face-to-face, take advantage of what virtual team building has to offer!
Employee engagement platforms exist so that you can engage your team on a deeper level, no matter where you are. From surveys for regular check-ins to automated recognitions, the benefits of adopting an engagement platform are never-ending.
Take advice from experienced hybrid leaders
Mentors are key. If you aren’t sure where to start, take look for guidance from business leaders who have led hybrid environments for years!
Hybrid environments may be new for many of us, but some organizations have worked under a hybrid model for decades. Companies like Engage, Paylocity, and TrueBlue took advantage of the flexibility and accessibility of hybrid work for years before the pandemic.
Successful managers are the best source of wisdom when it comes to cultivating your own hybrid leadership skills and style.
Define your purpose (and keep repeating it)
Core values are essential for unifying team members when you cant all be in the same place.
Making sure your hybrid work environment is centered around a set of shared principles is necessary for leading your distributed team to success. If you don’t already have clearly defined core values, consider creating new ones as a team.
Keep in mind that the best core values are universal, easy to remember, and open to adaptation!
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Ask for feedback often
Lean into feedback from your team members!
Being an effective manager is all about establishing mutual trust. Do this by checking in with team members one-on-one, taking regular pulse surveys, and encouraging employees to share their honest feedback whenever possible.
Feedback is the only way to know where your team truly stands and take action. Has there been a team-wide dip in productivity? Is burn out affecting your team members? With honest feedback, you can offer solutions that actually help while coaching your team back on track.
Be clear that you’re open to honest feedback. In doing so, you’re creating a healthy environment and showing your team that they matter.
Hybrid work environments are unique, but they’re here to stay. Avoiding common leadership mistakes doesn’t mean being perfect, it means recognizing them to make improvements as they come up.
Be transparent, hold space for constant growth, and most of all–embrace the change!
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