Hybrid work has forced leaders to change the way they manage and not all are adapting well. The always on, always reachable nature of most hybrid work arrangements has led to an endless cycle of virtual meetings.
Many of the leadership priorities we used to have are taking a back seat to just simply managing the volume. There are healthier and more effective ways to lead than the current paradigm.
Five strategies for effective hybrid leadership
We offer five strategies to help build your leadership toolkit and manage your hybrid work life more effectively in 2022.
Leaders must get the balance right, motivating and inspiring teams, while managing work to ensure that objectives are met. And this isn't just a right now issue. A recent “Future Workforce Pulse Report” by Upwork predicts 58% of the work force will be working remotely in 5 years. Virtual isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
Here are the five strategies that you can use for effective hybrid leadership, with an emphasis on virtual, to create a lasting toolkit that will benefit you for years to come.
1. Constantly calibrate what works and what doesn't
Leaders aren't taking the time to analyze what has worked and what hasn't worked as they flip between different modalities. Be honest with yourself and look at the results. Are your video meetings productive and efficient? Is your instant messaging channel focused or cluttered? Have you accomplished what you set out to accomplish in the last year? Be aware of your own health and well being. Is the amount of screen time draining you, are you present with your family and friends?
2. Don't be afraid to experiment
Part of leadership is managing change and the last two years have taught us that Zoom 'fatigue' is real and a workday of back-to-back calls leads to an inability to focus on anything productive. As a result, you need to be aware of how you use technology and lead change for your team and diversify away from live communication. Recordings and other asynchronous forms of communication allow you, and your team, the opportunity to focus more on productivity without worrying about the time constraints that endless video meetings entail.
3. Be mindful of purpose
How many Zoom meetings have you sat through where you weren't 100% certain why you were there? Now imagine your team and how they feel. Too often it's easiest to just send out a quick meeting invite with a few vague sentences around the intended purpose. But ask yourself as you send out the invite - have you clearly stated the purpose of the meeting? Have you drafted an agenda, however brief, that outlines the topics to be covered? Do the attendees know what is expected of them in the meeting? As a leader it's important that your team never gets asked to a meeting without understanding the purpose and what is expected of them. You might find that the act of stating a purpose and drafting an agenda for your meetings leads you to less meetings as you discover that often you could achieve your objective with an email.
4. Really? We need an hour for this?
Before you hit send think about how long you need for a productive call that won’t eat into everyone’s working day. Would 20 minutes be better? Instead of booking back-to-back meetings, schedule some time between them so you can think about and act on the outcomes of each interaction. This allows you to stay on top of your workload, while starting each meeting with a clear mind.
5. Give yourself a break
Both literally and figuratively. If your day is an endless cycle of virtual meetings, with work crammed in between, find the time to take a real break. Think about your mental wellbeing and energy levels and schedule time for a walk or a reading break. Even 30 minutes away from a screen can help us feel refreshed and inspire new ideas. And don't forget to give yourself a break if you're finding the leadership role tough. If you're not able to schedule face-to-face time with your team don't beat yourself up over perceived gaps in culture or engagement. Instead focus on the success you are having with keeping your team engaged and collaborating. Everything is changing, accept that your team is changing as well. If you and your team are efficient, effective, and feeling generally positive you're doing well.
For many of us a hybrid work environment will be our new reality. We’ll need to learn to pivot rapidly between using virtual channels for tasks like collaboration, managing projects, and tackling specific work challenges, and face-to-face interactions, which is critical for managing change, driving innovation, and building culture within organizations. Now is the time to build the leadership toolkit you’re going to need to be successful.