What do you need to succeed as a leader and manager in a hybrid workplace? In this video, I share with you the critical skills you need as a leader and manager of teams learning to navigate the hybrid work environment.
Let’s consider how things have significantly changed since shifting from the traditional 9-to-5 office work environment into a more flexible set-up, whether it be fully remote or hybrid. As I explained in two previous videos, the critical difference between these environments is the level of autonomy employees are given, specifically on who decides what, when, where, and how work is done.
Managers who value and support flexibility and autonomy in the workplace are more successful in navigating through a hybrid or remote workplace for a variety of reasons:
- They get their teams what they need to succeed in their roles, instead of micromanaging.
- They focus on the big picture and goals, instead of minding the tasks and ticking off boxes in a to-do list.
- They genuinely care about the well-being of their team members. They see them as persons with responsibilities outside of work and respect them as individuals who capable of making responsible choices.
What sets apart the managers and leaders who ably navigate through the changing work environment from those who can’t are skills that allow them to see the big picture, get their teams what they need to succeed such as tools, information, upskilling, and take care of their teams.
What skills do managers need to support their teams in a hybrid work environment?
Communicating proactively means relaying essential and relevant information before they are asked. This is an important skill because it focuses on preventing problems and managing complaints before they even happen.
Proactive communication is essentially two skills in one:
- The ability to see two, three, or even 10 steps ahead
- The ability to communicate what the team needs to know to manage problems before they manifest
How do you know that you have this skill? Here are some tell-tale signs:
- Your team members know what you expect of them.
- Your team members understand the project goals they are working on.
- Your team members have the information they need to succeed in their roles. Alternatively, they know how to and have access to the information they need. They don’t need to be told—they know what to do.
- Your team members begin thinking long term and being more proactive, learning these skills by observing their manager—that’s you!—in action.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and regulate emotions. Why is emotional intelligence important? Because a leader’s emotions impact the morale of the team. How do you feel when you work with an angry boss who throws a fit whenever he gets mad? Does that sound like a pleasant work environment?
Emotionally intelligent managers know their emotions impact to the team. They know that an unkind word can demoralize the team and that a well-timed pep talk can motivate the team to push forward even when things are tough.
They are emotionally and cognitively empathetic—this means they can put themselves in their team member’s shoes and see it from their perspective. They can understand why people may think or do things in a certain way, allowing them to communicate in a way that their team members will understand.
Emotionally intelligent leaders nurture a psychologically safe work environment, where team members feel heard and seen, and where they feel safe to take risks, even fail, and most importantly, learn from these mistakes.
While any work environment will benefit from a manager’s emotional intelligence, hybrid workplaces require them because of how people communicate. Unlike when meeting people face-to-face where people see non-verbal cues, it’s easy to misinterpret what was written on email or messaging. It takes patience and empathy to focus on the message rather than how the message was communicated. Conversely, it also takes patience and empathy to find the right words and make sure that the recipient focuses on the meaning without feeling disrespected.
It takes more effort to nurture relationships online. It’s natural to build better rapport with people we are constantly in contact with, particularly people we see on a daily basis. In hybrid workplaces, teams often don’t work at the same time or in the same place.
As a manager of teams who work remotely, you need to learn how to nurture relationships with the people you work with and become an example of how to nurture workplace relationships both online and offline. It helps to learn how to build trust and how to manage conflict. Learning how to manage relationships help teams nurture a psychologically safe working environment.
Successful managers understand that team members aren’t resources to be managed. You role as a leader is to motivate them—and you do this by valuing them. Developing your skills in proactive communication, emotional intelligence and relationship management doesn’t only set you up as a capable leader in a hybrid work set-up. These skills are critical in making your team feel valued in your organisation, motivating them to be better team players. Because when team members feel valued, it motivates them to do better every time.