According to the Harvard Business Review, traditional leadership development theory states that 70% of learning happens through on-the-job training, 20% happens through interaction and observation, and the remaining 10% happens through formal training. Now that many organizations have decided to embrace hybrid work arrangements, they also have to evolve from the traditional leadership style to the hybrid work style. The world has evolved far beyond where employees must be mandated to work in an office. Most employees would rather accept a job that allows them to work from home or switch between their home and office than a traditional job where they have to report to an office daily. Although the hybrid style requires employees to report to the office occasionally, most assignments are done remotely.
This leaves us with the question - How should leadership development work in the hybrid work era?
Below are a few ways that organizations can transcend from the traditional leadership style into the hybrid style.
Create social cohesion
Although employees might not be acquainted with one another, it is essential that the organization creates an avenue for socialization, brainstorming, or putting heads together. In a situation where employees are supposed to work in a group, they would be less productive if they lack familiarity with their colleagues. This can, however, be avoided if an avenue is created where employees or members of the group can come together, rub minds, and get familiar with one another. Social media is a vital tool for organizational socialization. You can create a platform where all employees are present and opinions and ideas can be exchanged. In this case, it would be easier to understand where progress is being made and who or what needs close attention. Using the same communication tools is essential to keep the conversation going and avoid people missing essential information. Having the marketing team on Slack, the IT team on Skype and the sales team on WhatsApp is a recipe for disaster.
Utilize career advancement certifications
You should keep your team motivated by pointing them toward training resources to help them develop their skill and learn more. You are only the leader of the team. You are not expected to know everything; sending team members links and resources could also save you the stress of answering questions all the time. There are various online platforms where people can get certification courses for niche skills. Platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, FutureLearn, and boot camps like PMP Certification Training and others provide professional courses that would help develop your team. Not all of these platforms offer free courses, though. As a business leader, you can either allocate a budget to learning and development or point the team in the direction, but ultimately, it shows that you are concerned about employees’ individual development.
Get to know each individual within your team
Unlike the traditional office-based work structure where leaders can grasp how their team members are faring, it is difficult to do that in a hybrid work arrangement due to the distance barrier. Hence, it is vital to build an environment of trust where your employees feel safe to discuss their challenges with you without fear of being criticized. Trust can only be built with your remote employees if you take time to get to know them, reach out to them to see where they are struggling and find out areas where they need assistance. This gesture would help the employee understand that you as a leader are concerned about their growth on the job. It would help if you organized virtual meetings so you could get to see their faces. You will know who looks bright and who looks exhausted and then find out more about the personal situation of each member of your remote team. Getting to know your team members would also help in achieving collective productivity.
All team members must be carried along in your development policies. Some team members are more productive than others, but it would be detrimental to the team if you only focus on the ones who are productive and pay less attention to those who need help. Every team member has to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. In situations where you have a struggling team member, schedule a meeting and discuss ways they can do better. Work shadowing and working along a top performer helps in most cases as people easily copy productivity tips and best practices. Inclusion also has to do with every race, religion, or gender. It is vital to show equality within the team no matter that people work remotely most of the time.
Organize face-to-face meetings
Organizing physical meetings goes a long way in strengthening the team's mentality. You can have a work schedule that allows your team to come to the office once or twice a week and meet with them physically during this period. During the meeting, you can ask questions about tasks and take note of areas where your team is struggling. The physical meeting also helps you pass direct messages and get feedback. Although group meetings can be held in different locations, meeting at the office makes the team aware that they belong in a structured organization; it would also change their attitude toward work and foster team bonding.
Sticking with the traditional leadership development strategies in a hybrid work world would not produce effective results because you do not have the liberty of seeing your employees every day. Having said so, open communication and a culture nurturing equality result in thriving hybrid teams. Empathy is probably the most valuable asset of every leader managing a hybrid workforce. It helps sense the needs of your team, foster open discussions and problem-solving workshops. As a leader, encouraging your remote team to share ideas, express their opinion on process automation and new tools that might boost their productivity can deliver brilliant results.
Needless to say, if your organization is operating in a hybrid work environment, following the above-listed techniques would help you effectively lead and develop your hybrid team members.