Effective Leadership In A Hybrid Workplace
*Forwarded from Feedly*
Effective Leadership In A Hybrid Workplace
President at LHH.
In years past, autumn had a rhythm to it. Call it the “back-to-school feeling.” Fall, rather than spring, felt like the time for new beginnings, with the future starting to come into focus and take shape. People would come back from vacation reinvigorated, ready to dig in.
Not this year. The Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus has changed the outlook. Plans to return to the workplace, or at least formalize hybrid structures, are very much up in the air for many businesses. What is clear is that hybrid working — whether that’s the majority of your staff working from home full-time for the foreseeable future or people alternating working from home and on-site — is the reality we have to adjust to.
How can leaders be most effective at this time? I’ve found, both in my own job and in understanding the needs of clients, that many of the tools and techniques that will help leaders should already be in their repertoire. The pandemic and the resulting circumstance may have brought the need for transparency, trust, empathy and openness to the forefront, but they were always critical for effective leadership.
What may be different now is how you express those things, or make them visible, especially for workers you may not have interacted with in person for months. Here are some things to consider.
Hybrid Isn’t For Everyone
As popular as hybrid work seems to be, it doesn’t suit everyone. Some people crave — or even need — the intellectual and creative stimulation they get from being around other people. Leaders and managers at all levels should try to assess how people are adjusting to or have adjusted to the new conditions, and find out what works and what doesn’t for individuals and teams.
Sometimes the mere act of being heard can help people feel better. In other cases, it may mean some tweaking: more one-on-one conversations, more frequent check-ins for a team, some kind of social activity built in, even if it is remote. None of this will be a perfect substitute or replacement for in-person interaction, but it can help.
Stay In Constant Touch With Other Leaders And Managers
This is one of those times when I think the distinction between “leadership” and “management” matters very little. (Yes, ideally everyone leads in one way or another.) But in a very practical sense, managers are likely going to have the best handle on what is going on with the people they supervise. Encourage them to keep the lines of communications open with their employees and with their own managers. Knowledge is power. Don’t get caught up in power structures or struggles.
Hybrid Makes Some Things Harder
Even those who love the flexibility of hybrid work acknowledge that it’s not perfect. While not having to commute can save people time (not to mention money), is it reasonable to assume that the extra hour is time that belongs to the company, rather than the worker? Working at home makes it more difficult for people to keep their work and personal lives/spaces separate. It becomes all too easy for “work creep” to occur.
Recognize that you, as a leader, may have to be the one to set boundaries. They can be explicit — “no emails are expected to be answered outside of the hours of X and Y” — or you can lead by example, sending emails during what you want workers to consider “normal” work hours. People often feel implicit pressure to answer emails right away, even if they aren’t time-sensitive.
We Still Don’t Know What The ‘New Normal’ Is
You would think that after 18 months, we all would have gotten the hang of this. The truth is, we don’t know where we’re headed. Will your workplace be one that will demand vaccines? How would that fly among your employees? Will it ever make sense to go back to full-time, in-office work? If so, what will that look like — literally? People masked, socially distanced and separated by Plexiglass?
Be honest with your employees when they ask you questions. If you don’t have answers yet, tell them that. And be prepared for probing questions: “Why not?” “When will you know?” “What are you waiting for?” While employees want reassurance, your first responsibility is to let them know they can trust you, and you earn that trust with candor. That is its own kind of reassurance.
The hybrid workplace has challenges and upsides. The pre-pandemic workplace did, too. But you can almost always improve any situation by honest assessment, thorough analysis and clear communication.
via Forbes – Leadership “https://ift.tt/35Uaszf”
October 21, 2021 at 04:37AM