Leadership Secrets for Hybrid & Remote TeamsNov 14, 2022
Leading teams in today's world is more demanding than ever. The move to remote work and hybrid teams is increasing the complexity.
There are several key elements to watch when leading remote and hybrid teams:
- Change embracing
That is a lot of things to watch. However, the last 5 are the key drivers of success in teams. The first 6 are important lead indicators of team success. Let's focus on these 6 lead indicators of team success and look at some secrets for enhancing each of these.
For the sake of this article, let's define engagement as "the emotional commitment a person has to the effort." How much is the individual willing to invest themself into the effort? I recently spoke with a business owner who showed me his organizational climate survey for 2022. It was done by one of the well known climate survey organizations. He was concerned that his engagement numbers have been dropping over the past few years. Then he asked me the critical question, "How do we increase engagement, I have looked through this entire binder and have not found anything describing how to do that?"
That is the problem with most climate surveys, you get tons of data (literally) but no truly actionable pathway to enhancing the critical success factors.
Here are some secrets to enhancing engagement:
- Invest in the development of your people
- Include people in important conversations and decisions (who knows the landscape better than people who are actually doing the work)
- Practice deliberate connection (not just communication)
- Find fun ways to connect and collaborate
- Communicate, communicate, communicate (when you think you have communicated enough, do it 5 more times)
- Celebrate wins
Hybrid and remote teams have a unique challenge when it comes to innovation. Conversations and "what if" discussions that used to happen organically in the office simply do not happen anymore, or have been massively diminished. Innovation is a combination of creating options, working through possibilities, discovering new approaches, research, refining, trial and error, and curiosity. All of these elements are far more difficult in a virtual world than they would be in person.
Here are some secrets to enhancing innovation:
- Create a scheduled time to innovate regularly
- Use identified gaps or weaknesses as the focus for innovation
- Reward people who's ideas lead to innovation
- Designate someone to be the champion of innovation and drive innovation efforts
- Create an "innovation channel" where ideas and comments can be captured and visible
Each role in the team should bring a certain level of value and productivity. Clarifying that is important to ensuring team success. Especially with remote workers, where visual management is difficult due to the remote nature. The way we measure productivity in remote and hybrid teams may need to change.
Here are some secrets to enhancing productivity:
- Change the value/productivity measures away from hours to tasks completed. Most teams know how much time it should take to complete specific tasks.
- Consider a project management approach where progress is measured against deliverables within appropriate timelines.
- Find ways to create a visual tracking system to show daily and weekly progress. Make that available to everyone involved.
- Set up a weekly performance coaching system where weekly goals are set, discussed, agreed to , and then reviewed the following week. Repeat this process every week.
- Create accountability practices for every role and then track those as a part of weekly review and discussion coaching meetings.
This may seem to be a hard to measure lead indicator. However, if we think about focus as a measure of time to successfully complete a specific task/effort (applied attention), then we can better manage this critical resource for optimal results. Focus is not solely owned by the team member. There may be other factors that impact the ability to focus and complete tasks/efforts. Focus is also a team attribute. There is a great book on focus by Daniel Goleman, "Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence."
Here are some secrets for enhancing focus:
- Ensure that expectations to accomplish tasks/efforts are clear with easy to understand metrics.
- Identify the unnecessary distractions that take away from focus and remove them.
- Engage team members regularly in discussions about focus and what might be causing distractions.
- Create a shared value of making focus a priority, and allow any team member to speak up when they see an issue.
- Assess current systems and processes for embedded "triggers of distraction."
ROI - Return On Investment
This phrase is often attached to specific long term results. What if we applied it as an ongoing guide to refine our approach, processes, and efforts? ROI can be in dollars but it can also be in time saved, talent retained, capacity developed, competencies enhanced, waste reduced, improved collaboration...the possibilities are almost endless. Think of ways you can measure ROI in the short term, even week to week.
Here are some secrets for enhancing ROI:
- Track weekly goals achieved.
- Measure trends on key metrics, are they moving in the right direction?
- Equip current team members with new skills or competencies enhancing their value to the team.
- Reward efforts/ideas that enhance ROI.
While this is the last lead indicator we will explore in this article, it may be the most critical to success. Teams do not function well in the absence of connection. The very word, "TEAM", can only be an accurate description when connection is present and practiced. Connection is the doorway to building trust, and trust is the fuel that drives team performance.
Here are some secrets to enhancing connection:
- In hybrid and remote teams, connection must be planned. This may seem strange, but in the absence of everyone being in the same office, time for authentic connection must be a priority.
- Be creative in ways to connect with the team. Find a balance of work and fun in the connection effort.
- Teach connection skills (active listening, asking good questions, reflect to understand).
- Enhance emotional intelligence skills, especially empathy, optimism, understanding the emotions that are present, and navigating emotions well.
- Be ruthless about creating a team culture of psychological safety and equality of conversational sharing (Google study on teams).
With new challenges, like leading hybrid and remote teams, new skills are needed.
I had a senior leader look at me the other day with significant anxiety visible in his face and say, "My old ways of leading are not working in this new reality." I do not think he is alone in feeling that way. Leadership will always be a challenge, will always experience change, will always demand our best.
Do you want to be a leader worth following? You can be...the choice is yours.
Copyright © 2022 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]
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