Taking hybrid working to a whole new level, we explore what it takes to successfully lead a hybrid team.

Historically the place of work for so many has been the office – a place where people gather for one goal – to work. However, the pandemic has changed this for many, and our personal space – our home – has now become the primary place – to work. The place is not the only axis that is pivoting as there are change in the way we work and the flexibility that comes with it.

Team Harvest has recently taken hybrid working to a whole new world with our newest Talent Recruiter, Hayley Smith, based in beautiful Darwin. Recrutiment services, like many industries, struggles for “talent acquisition” Talent in this strong, candidate short market. For us, remote working is the perfect solution to the talent shortage dilemma.

Just how can you successfully lead hybrid teams with some team members working remotely and others in the office?

We explored this question with Geelong HR Professionals and Executives at a recent Geelong HR Roundable with input from guest presenter and work from home enthusiast, Wayne Robertson, and came across some handy tips and advice.

 

Being an effective leader of a remote team

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that managers need the ability to help team members manage change. Not only this, but they also need to be adaptable themselves. Old rigid models of being a “manager” just don’t cut it anymore.

 

Take care of yourself first.

For most of us, the pandemic and forced lockdowns had us re-assessing many areas of our life. Robertson’s personal journey over the last 18 months has been to focus on his own wellbeing.

“Unless I am in the right headspace / mindset, I can’t possibly get the right kind of focus for my team.”

Working for a global organisation in a remote team, it’s easy to struggle with boundaries, even putting in more hours working from home than you need to.

“Do I continue to work after 6 pm at night (because someone in USA is at work at that time) or do I set really clear boundaries and make sure I am offline by 6pm?”

 

Empowering and Coaching.

“I the manager” is very much now “we the team.”

As a collective team, how are “we” going to be successful at what we are doing?

 

It all starts with trust.

Trust, empowerment, coaching, and support is required to set your team up for success.

How the work gets done is up to the individual team member –there’s less micro-managing and looking over the shoulder – this starts from a place of trust.

There is a perception that when you work from home, you are “being lazy.” The truth is most people are more productive at home. Set clear expectations and boundaries and deliverables but give team members the flexibility of being able to do it in their own time.

 

Take a holistic approach.

As a leader, set boundaries. In fact, the whole team should be setting boundaries.

Having said that, it’s important that leaders recognise that people have unique needs. It’s not necessarily a “one size fits all” approach when setting boundaries. Recognise that team members have flexible needs

Robertson advised that “one on one check ins” are important. Ask your team member – how are you going?  Ask open ended questions to see what is really going on.

Ensure everyone feels valued and introduce different ways to communicate and connect with your team. In a typical 60-minute call, for example, around 20 minutes could be around “connection”. Ensure everyone contributes.  People can struggle with this, thinking it is “wasted time” but it is incredibly important to do as a leader. Build a place of psychological safety. And have a bit of fun too. Get your managers to be experts in ZOOM – using crazy filters and backgrounds etc. Keep the communication up – a 2- minute videos to your staff works better than an email too!

Building rapport and psychological safety with your team is incredibly important.

 

Elements for success in a hybrid environment

You may have heard the buzz words “synchronous working.” The word “synchronous” means working together at the same time, and in the online learning world, chat rooms and online conferences are good examples of synchronous communication. In a chat room, people’s comments to each other are relayed immediately, enabling a real-time discourse.

In contrast, “Asynchronous communication” happens on your own time and doesn’t need scheduling.

Work out the difference, what’s really required and when.

 

Successful attributes for remote work

Whilst for some working from home for some can impact mental health issues, for others it increases wellbeing – the ability to exercise – more time in your day. And some people are more productive too!

Why does working from homework well for some and not others?

For some, productive working from home comes naturally and for some it doesn’t. Why?  Research shows these attributes will most likely mean the person is a “good” remote worker:

  • How do they show up professionally on ZOOM meetings?  Have they made the effort to get out of the trackies?
  • Are they prompt and arrive for the start of the meeting?
  • Do they display initiative, self-reliance, and the ability to work independently?
  • Are they adaptable to change and ambiguity?
  • Do they display consistency? Can they be trusted to deliver on time?

If you are not seeing these traits, how do you build some of this into feedback and performance reviews?

The hybrid model will change – we are not done yet.

 

Connection, Community and Wellbeing

When you work remotely, it is easy to be forgotten – “out of sight, out of mind.” To prevent this Robertson offers the following tips:

  • Ensure every team member is valued
  • Encourage managers to become versed in all the ZOOM call elements e.g., chat Tools, emojis, virtual backgrounds and make ZOOM calls a little bit more interesting.
  • Call out those that never contribute to ZOOM calls by asking questions
  • Begin meetings with a “connection exercise”. E.g., What’s the best holiday you’ve ever been on? What’s your favourite colour? Encourage people to connect to each other. Then drop into deeper questions as the psychological safety of the environment increases.
  • Host virtual Parties e.g., provide everyone with a hamper, a pizza party, trivia, or late Friday afternoon drinks.

 

Virtual collaboration tool ideas 

  1. Microsoft Products
  2. Google Docs (free)
  3. Slack / Microsoft Teams
  4. Virtual collaboration “whiteboards”
    1. Google Jam board
    2. Padlet
    3. Trello

These collaboration tools encourage participation from everyone – everyone has voice – it says, “we want your input”.

 

Wayne Robertson.

Wayne Robertson, ex Leadership & Development Director, Wesfarmers Insurance currently works with US company YPO and works entirely remotely.

Harvest thanks Wayne Robertson for taking part in our February Geelong HR Roundtable “People Management in a Hybrid World.” Link to blog.

You can follow Wayne Robertson on Linked in

 

Where to from here? Save the Date.

Organisations and those managers who are trying to “squash” working from home, good luck, because hybrid working, although evolving, is here to stay.

If your organisation is not offering hybrid working, staff members will look for an organisation that is offering it and doing it well.

Harvest’s 20 July 2022 Geelong HR Roundtable will further explore the topic of “The Future of Work” with a line up of leading panellists. All welcome. 

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