Get a Fresh Start with These Tips for Managing a Hybrid Team

The new year is the perfect time to create a fresh start and update your skills in managing a hybrid team. You may have practices that used to fit your team that simply don’t work well today. We live in a new world in which employees may be at home, in the office, or some combination of both.

From time to time, we all need to reevaluate our performance and change what we’re doing to meet new challenges and opportunities. Turning the calendar to a new year is a perfect time to freshen up our management approach with some new strategies for today’s agile teams. Here are 4 tips for sharpening your effectiveness as a leader and help in managing a hybrid team.

1. Communication is Key

Whether your team works on site or remotely, one of the best ways to maintain a cohesive, productive team is to clearly communicate how you want things to operate. Be sure your preferences are clear as far as what types of issues or communications should be handled via an email versus scheduling a meeting. Make sure your team understands which projects have top priority, and any changes to the scope or deadline to your team’s work.

Some hybrid team leaders have opted to have daily standups or check-in meetings at the start of each day. While that approach may not be right for every team, pay attention to the needs of your crew. While extroverted personalities are energized by spending time together (even virtually), introverted workers may find too many meetings to be disruptive and inhibit workflow.

One approach for managing a hybrid team that fosters clear communication is to set an agenda for each meeting and send it out beforehand. If your team members review the agenda and determine they do not need to attend, they can skip some meetings and continue working.

2. Combat Natural Bias

One issue faced by hybrid teams and their leadership is a natural bias toward members who work on campus. It’s sort of like the expression, “Out of sight, out of mind.”. We naturally think that team members who are in the office (whom we can visually see working) are more productive than team members who are working remotely, when this is probably not true. Managing a hybrid team effectively means you’ll need to work to correct that natural imbalance by connecting with your remote team members.

Set regular one-on-one calls or video chats to briefly check in with them. Making sure they have what they need can go a long way toward making team members feel supported and valued. It also keeps their contributions to your overall team present in your mind as you lead.

3. Create Connections

Leaders do so much more than herd a project toward completion by a specific deadline. They’re responsible for finding ways to pull a team of people together so that the resulting sum is greater than its parts. One key way of maintaining a group’s “greater sum” quality is to continue to foster connections across the team, especially between on campus and remote members.

Some leaders have found it effective to schedule virtual happy hours or virtual team lunches. Others have tried to find ways to bring the brainstorming and problem-solving effect of water-cooler talk to the virtual sphere. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try new things to add some fun to the mix. If you try something that turns out not to be a good fit for your team, let it go and try the next idea. When you find what works, the rewards will be well worth the effort you’ve spent cultivating those connections.

4. Take Time to Learn This Year

As you update your best practices this year, take some time to educate yourself on the latest research and new management approaches. Learn new tools for resolving workplace conflict, how to improve employee retention, or how to tailor your management style to suit the needs of your team. Check out our workshop on Building Effective Teams and get information on best practices and tips for fully utilizing your team’s skills, styles and talents.

Ingrid Kelada

Owner of KCC Positive Business Psychology & Happiness Expert