As Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at INSEAD, Mark Mortensen observed…
“We have a tendency to overcompensate and approach remote workers and virtual teams as these mythical beasts. You shouldn’t think about them in a fundamentally different way. They are still people working in an organisation trying to get stuff done. Treat them as such.”
The dilemma faced by many organisations in the coming months is how to bring people back safely into their previous place of work. The dilemma faced by many leaders is a different one; How do they manage, and lead, when their team is dispersed?
Will this cause leaders to completely rethink the way they lead and manage their teams, or is it simply a matter of understanding where any micro-adjustments may be needed to accommodate the impending wants and needs of each of your team?
To better understand where the micro-adjustments are needed, let me remind you of the time when you still applied hybrid team working practices even when all of your team worked from the same location at the same time. You’ve probably been here before, even if you didn’t realise it. Here are some examples for you…
- If you worked in the same building as all of your team, but did not have direct line of sight to all of them throughout your working day, those team members may as well have been working remotely
- Our primary source of communication was email. It still is. Accessibility to email is the same if your team are in the office or not
- Team members needed the right level of leadership support when they all worked in the same location. They still do. Some leaders got this right, others offered too little or too much. Accessibility to the leader hasn’t gone away
So, what can you rely on from your past leadership behaviours that will help you thrive as a hybrid team? I’ll break it down into three areas of focus for you.
- Levelling the Playing Field
This is all about helping your team to understand the parameters of the ways of working in this ‘new’ team, and feel included and connected. You will be considering;
Has the purpose of the team’s existence changed, or does this purpose need reiterating?
Have the goals of the team changed? What about how the team will work together to achieve the goals?
Have your team values and ethics been reviewed recently? Does every member of the team understand what is and isn’t acceptable in the way that you all collaborate and ‘get stuff done’?
How to we make team meetings fair for everyone if some are in the office and others aren’t?
What are your team ‘rules’ about communicating with each other?
2. Getting your tactics right
How response-able are you and your team?
This is understanding how the team acts and reacts to the different situations they face. In his book ‘Productivity Ninja’ Graham Allcott refers to a leaders ability to be response-able instead of responsible. You will be considering;
When your team comes under pressure, do they instinctively know what to do? Do they continue to communicate effectively between each other? Do they know their roles and how the roles interconnect and support the rest of the team?
When you have the chance to transition out of pressured times into times where team members get creative and innovative, what are the signals for this? How well are to tapping into the skills of each team member and allowing them to flourish in the role the perform?
How do you celebrate your individual and collective successes?
3. Understanding your role
A hybrid team working environment gives you the chance to reassess your own leadership style and behaviours. You will be considering;
What did you learn about yourself as a leader during times when every member of your team was working remotely, including you?
What leadership characteristics seem most important to you and your team now?
How accessible are you to every member of your team?
How will you handle perceptions of bias towards certain members of the team, simply because they seem to have more access to you than others?
Thinking more carefully about these three areas of focus, is there anything here that you would not apply to a team if they were all based in the same location? I thought not…
Hybrid teams are not mythical beasts. You do not need mythical powers to lead them. Trust in the skills, abilities and experience you have already honed, and micro-adjust just like before. If you, or managers and leaders within your organisation need some help with the micro-adjustments, and best practice, then schedule a call with OnTrack today to learn how we are continuing to support some of the world’s most successful organisations.