After nearly 2 years of the pandemic, organisations have had varying approaches to hybrid working. Whilst some organisations have a more prescriptive style of management, other organisations have a more relaxed ‘coaching’ management style. In conversations with HR leaders and team leaders, I have noted the key management skills that have assisted with this transition. This article illustrates which management style works best when managing hybrid teams. The six key leadership skills that have proved to be essential for managing an effective team during hybrid working.
In conversations with team leaders, I have noted common threads that they have used around agile working.
The most successful management practices use a coaching style of management. This article discusses those leadership skills. The skills that top leaders see as essential for hybrid working success.
Let’s begin with a quick interpretation of what hybrid working looks like for most organisations.
What is hybrid working?
In brief, hybrid working is flexible working. Where team members will split their time between the workplace and working remotely.
If you would are interested in more details and read more about the negative ‘mental health’ effects of hybrid working. This article will be of interest: What is the true mental health cost of hybrid working for your employees?
What type of skills are needed in hybrid workplace?
It is widely recognised that effective team managers are able to notice and consider their own behaviours. As leaders what you think determines how you feel. These thoughts and feelings lead to behavioural patterns that will either empower or disempower teams.
Feelings cloud thoughts, beliefs and actions.
As team leaders, your actions will make a big impact on your teams. Your ‘feelings’ will affect your success as a leader.
Interestingly pre-Covid, feelings are not traditionally a recognisable asset in the workplace. Comments like:
“you are too emotional” were commonplace and noted as a negative attribute. However with the democratisation of the workplace being able to notice how you think, how you feel and act is a desirable quality. Levels of em[athy during the pandemic have been essential to retaining key members of the team when everybody has struggled to come to terms with the new work and home shifts and changes.
Are you hard-wired into office groupthink?
Of course, nobody wants to deal with an upset colleague or a harassed customer and yet successful team relationships are formed through understanding how you feel like a leader, if you are able to allow the team to come up with empowered solutions then the team will thrive. If however, you feel that the team can’t operate at the level you expect and you overmanage or micromanage the team they will feel disempowered. Your team responds to your actions.
Looking at your feelings change your thoughts and subsequent behaviour. Recognising this is a great asset to successful leaders.
Therefore creating trust and positivity in your own mind will lead to a more positive response from team members. It should be noted that creating an upbeat mindset doesn’t mean being constantly ‘Prozac happy’ or always having an upbeat demeanour.
It simply means being able to respond in a positive manager and drawing upon your emotional intelligence (EI) to regulate – not stop – your emotions. This will have a huge effect on the working dynamics of your team.
A reflective, thoughtful attitude as a leader will impact the culture of the organisation which in turn will affect your entire organisation.
An empathetic leader who is aware of their own thought patterns, biases and is able to trust and improvise will work successfully with their team. Improving team engagement, performance and purpose which will lead to increased productivity.
Emotional awareness in leaders is key to adapting to the future of working in a hybrid environment. Being able to recognise your emotions and therefore actions as a leader and the impact that your thoughts have on your team performance will either increase or decrease their performance.
Awareness is the key to the main leadership skills essential to hybrid working outlined here:
Leadership Skill (1) Creating A Coaching Culture Of Trust
The first key leadership skill is building a strong foundation of trust. Trust is an essential leadership skill
An organisation needs to be ‘trusted’ by its customers to be successful. If a problem arises, the customer needs to trust that your organisation will find the best solution in a friendly manner. A great leader will do the same with their team. Trust is built by deeply connecting and understanding the team members. Leaders will be able to understand and help manage conflicting or excessive workloads.
Trust means that the leader can confidentially know that problems will offer new growth opportunities. Employees can be trusted to develop new skills that will solve the problems.
Letting go and trusting the team to create solutions and opportunities is part of a culture that works.
An example of a lack of trust is when leaders find it hard to get-go. using phrases like:
“If you want something done right, do it yourself”? which means that the leader has a lack of trust in their teams or their second in command. When they continue to hold on to previous responsibilities after a promotion it speaks plainly to the employee. They do not feel the trust they deserve, leading to frustration and festering resentment. It also means a lack of engagement and reduced levels of personal responsibility when things go wrong.
A lack of trust in your teams’ ability results in their feeling of lack of confidence in the job they do and will increase their personal stress levels which in turn means the time off work and more work on your lap.
Trust is communicated effectively in a team when leaders move away from micromanaging teams – which is increasingly difficult when teams are working remotely. To a more coaching style of management.
Team Coaching Training.
Individual team members benefit from a coaching style of management.
But team coaching is also beneficial as it develops the skills of the team as a unit, using members skills and experiences to pull together to improve future performance.
A leadership coaching style will empower teams so that they are able to work together to find solutions to difficult work problems. Using a coaching style will mean that the team will collaborate and find positive outcomes to these difficult problems, within a trusting culture.
Skills needed in a democratised workplace
Leadership Skill (2). Practising Adaptable Management Skills
“The Great Resignation” as coined by the management consultancy group McKinsey means that employees are leaving their jobs and careers in greater numbers. Gallup research in November 2021 announced that 48% of employees in the UK were actively considering their roles.
During the pandemic, many team players have had the space to consider their working lives. ‘The Great Rethink’ gave employees time – to rethink how they want to working lives to look like. Having worked in a new way, they are not willing to settle for less. Employees are looking for a profession with more work options with better benefits. More freedom, more money, shorter commutes and more flexibility.
When employees have passion and purpose in their roles then research shows that engagement is high. When leaders show empathy and adaptable skills and give their team members more opportunities to grow, passion and engagement follow.
Being aware of team members’ aspirations and offering them more adaptation in their roles will ensure their passion for the job remains. Adapting to their home environments and being more open in conversations around working hours will ensure that team members feel heard and supported
Leadership Skill (3). Offering support and reassurance
Leaders offering independence to the team will aid positive employee engagement.
A good wage for a good day’s work is no longer an attractive retention package for most employees. Whereas the traditional approach of working harder for longer-term career success is no longer the route that employees are working towards. The pandemic has shown employees that they can and should have freedom from unreasonable job demands and tight deadlines.
A more suitable leadership approach is to find how to work together as a team to find the best way forward with appropriate deadlines.
In addition, a leadership style that offers reassurance and recognition for a job well done is essential. When recognition is done the right way, it will ensure employee contentment.
A manager I was coaching recently, explained how upset and astonished they were by the response of a team member when he rewarded them for work well done.
He had left their favourite chocolates on the car window screen. He was disappointed. This gesture did not go down well. When he inquired why this wasn’t appropriate, the team member suggested that there were looking for more support in their role and offered more recognition for their work, rather than a gift.
A hand-delivered note or a personalised email from the managing director would have been more appropriate. The recipient explained that they were looking for recognition of a job well done. Recognition that would enhance their professional development with their peers.
Leadership Skill (4). Displaying Positive Mental Attitude and Mindset
As outlined at the beginning of the article as a leader, your thoughts will affect the mood of the team. If you often find your workload too difficult, too time-consuming and difficult and you hear yourself making internal comments like:
- “I can’t do this again”
- “This situation is too difficult”
- “I’ll wait to see how this pans out” which is procrastination
This is also a fixed mindset.
Your team will also feel and experience the enormity of the task, situation or deadline. Your thoughts will become your actions and the team will feel the same experience.
The alternative is being open to alternative possibilities that your team can provide. This opens your thinking to a growth mindset. A ‘can-do attitude that will create that mindset within your team.
As a leader, the willingness and attitude of willingness to look for alternative solutions that have never been tried before. As well as being open to suggestions from the team, including listening to suggestions from junior members of the team which at first may seem innocent and inappropriate. However, it is worth noting that innocent is simply a new way of looking at a problem. It doesn’t mean nieve. unless your mindset believes it to be so!
Leadership Skill (5). Showing Emotional Strength with Emotional Understanding
The ability of emotional agility is the leadership skill was being aware of one’s emotions and having the skill and ability to stand back from them.
It is interesting to note that the gender divide has often meant that women were seen as too emotional to be effective as leaders. Whilst men have the gender stereotypes that label them with lacking empathy and compassion skills.
However, the pandemic has seen not only the democratisation of the workplace but also the emergence of a more empathic leadership style. A more in touch management style that ensures that leaders are in tune and concerned with their teams’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
Leadership Skill (6). Creating Team Passion, Purpose and Inclusivity
Being part of the bigger picture means creating an environment of psychological safety. Creating a safe working environment is an essential skill successful leaders adapt to bring the best out of their team members. When the feeling of safety is in place it creates a successful team that are creat drive, passion and purpose.
Safety means that members are happy to bring up new ideas and feel a big part of the bigger picture. Seeing that their ideas are recognised, their inputs are valid and valuable creates success and gives them a sense of purpose, and passion.
- A leader that exudes passion creates a culture that is passionate.
- This culture is somewhere everyone wants to work, and customers want to work with.
- Like attracts like – passion attracts passion
When team members feel safe, they raise their hands when they spot a potential problem, a flaw or even a mistake that they have created. The solutions are focused on remedies to that mistake. The solution is effective and fast. If the employee doesn’t feel safe and allows the problem to go unnoticed. If they let the problem lie, the problem will grow and lead to bigger issues that are harder to resolve and take more resources.
Passion and purpose in your role lead to higher engagement. Collaboration helps to improve passion. A feeling of we are a team and we are in this together requires a leadership skill that facilities collaboration and safety. From there passion follows.
What does a coaching management style look like?
Organisations have seen a step towards more agile working which has had far-reaching implications on the workforce. As organisations have become more democratised during the pandemic it has been seen that those organisations with a flatter structure have coped well with the transition.
Using a coaching conversation helps to solve problems quicker. Less transactional ‘do as I say’ command and control management structure a more open-ended conversation where the team member finds and as a result ‘owns’ the solution to work issues. This means that managers are less involved with finding the solution and have more trust in their teams.
Hybrid working has tested management styles and working with leaders I have seen the above examples of leadership skills work well.
If you’re looking to improve your coaching management skills then drop me an email or book some time straight into my diary that works for you
What is a coaching style?
Coaching is a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance so that the firm will reduce staff turnover and increase productivity. The learner is sometimes called a coachee.
Team Coaching Training.
Team coaching training is about developing the skills of teams and individuals to improve future performance. Bringing the team together so that all team members are recognised for the value that they bring to the success of both the team and the organisation. Recognition works well and is individually based.
Team coaching training helps to explore what each team needs to make their teamwork effectively.
For example, an accredited coach will simulate feeling empowerment with teams to find solutions to difficult work problems, customer service interactions, delivery issues, or technical problems so that the team will find positive solutions to these difficult problems.
To support organisations with performance issues and boost productivity during hybrid working contact Adele for coaching sessions for team leaders and employees. Coaching that use a structured approach towards clear objectives, personal growth and moving forward.
“Adele’s coaching session was very valuable and well-timed during COVID lockdown, working from home.”
Lee Jennings Pension Planning at Openworks
If your organisation is looking to incorporate a coaching programme or would like to investigate the opportunities that coaching can offer please email me to discuss your organisational requirements or book an appointment straight in my diary
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