Best Practices for Managing Hybrid Teams
These best practices provide practical considerations for supervisors in charge of teams working in a hybrid environment. The information seeks to ensure that supervisors are setting the stage for their teams to be productive and engaged while strengthening relationships and monitoring their well-being.
Build Trust and Strengthen Relationships
- Establish regular interactions. Schedule regular 1:1 meetings with each of your direct reports. Meet with the team as a group.
- Gather feedback on what is and is not working well in a hybrid work environment. Are the conditions/expectations for hybrid work being met? Is hybrid work supporting or hindering the employee’s performance? How is the employee sharing knowledge and collaborating with others?
- Provide opportunities for social connection. It’s important to establish informal opportunities for individuals and the team to interact. Reserve time at the beginning or end of 1:1 and team meetings for personal updates and small talk. Schedule periodic team gatherings and activities, either virtually or in person.
- Be inclusive. Always include a Zoom link with meeting invites. Even if some team members are in the office, hold all team meetings via Zoom. Encourage employees to turn on their cameras so it is easier for colleagues to see facial expressions and interact with each other.
- Set Communication Expectations. Determine how and when you want to keep in contact. Consider using Slack or Jabber to maintain contact. Set core business hours in which all team members must be accessible.
- Establish Team Working Norms for scheduling and meeting management, team management and engaging with remote employees.
Focus on Results
- Measure productivity by focusing on results achieved rather than time spent in the office.
- Clarify objectives. Clearly state your objectives. Monitor and measure success at regular checkpoints. Set goals as part of the annual performance management process.
- Identify process and efficiency improvements. Regularly evaluate processes that need to be created or modified to enhance productivity.
Set and Maintain Expectations
- Establish performance goals. Set S.M.A.R.T. performance goals [pdf].
- Conduct a mid-year review. This should take the form of a discussion between the supervisor and employee that indicates whether the employee is on track to meet the performance standards and goals established in the annual performance plan. A mid-year review discussion is an opportunity to build trust with employees and to assess employee satisfaction and engagement. In cases where performance is an issue, the mid-year review is an opportunity to communicate and document performance concerns.
- Manage performance. Feedback is information about a person’s work performance that is used as a basis for improvement. Feedback is a way for supervisors to let employees know whether their performance is meeting expectations. Employees who receive sporadic feedback, or no feedback at all, tend to come to their own conclusions about how well they are doing their job — which may or may not be accurate. Employees who act on uninformed assumptions may end up being unproductive or even counter-productive. When a supervisor does not address performance problems immediately, employees are effectively denied the opportunity to adjust prior to being evaluated and rated. Such an approach is likely to stifle the employee’s career development and affect morale and engagement.
- Listen, show empathy and compassion to offer support. Adjusting to a new work arrangement can be challenging.
- Active listening lets the speaker know that you hear and understand what is being said. Active listening is more than simply being quiet; it also involves showing — through body language and verbal cues — an interest in what the speaker has to say and how they feel about the situation. Because active listening forces the listener to focus their attention on the speaker, it has the added benefit of increasing the productivity of communication and eliminating communication bottlenecks. Active listening is appropriate any time you are communicating with your employees, but especially when a disagreement arises or when an employee becomes emotional. Active listening can help reduce defensiveness when a supervisor provides constructive feedback. Tips for Active Listening:
- Do not interrupt. Do not respond to what the speaker is saying until you have given them an opportunity to speak fully. Cutting off a speaker will shut down their communication with you.
- Maintain eye contact. Looking at a person when they speak shows that you are interested. Maintaining the same eye level conveys that you are communicating as equals.
- Watch your body language. Uncross your arms and legs and avoid sitting across a desk. Look at the speaker and avoid facial gestures (such as shaking your head) that might communicate an unwillingness to be open to what the speaker has to say. Your receptivity to the speaker can be communicated by your body language.
- Use gestures to convey your understanding or acceptance, like nodding your head or occasionally saying “yes,” “OK,” or “hmm.” These gestures and brief interjections encourage the speaker to continue with their communication.
- Restate In your own words, restate what the speaker said. By restating what the speaker said, you show that you listened and confirm understanding.
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