How to Navigate Leadership in Virtual and Hybrid Workplaces
With growing remote and hybrid work environments, it is becoming increasingly difficult for organizational leaders to determine how to engage their employees and run their businesses. Luckily, there are existing practices you can use to lead your remote or hybrid team effectively.
We strongly suggest setting up a video call when having conversations relating to all of the following recommendations. This will mitigate any potential miscommunication while allowing you to pick up on the other person’s verbal and nonverbal responses in order to create a stronger connection and a more personable discussion.
Lead by Example
There are ways for you to continue to lead by example, even with decreased direct contact with employees in your day-to-day work life. Practice healthy daily habits and talk about them with your employees, encouraging them to find strong routines that work for them. You can do this by encouraging employees to take breaks to recalibrate, reflect on their days, time block, exercise, and maintain a consistent morning routine.
Emotional Intelligence is More Important Now than Ever
With the new commonality of distanced work environments, it has become significantly easier to miss the signs of disheartened employees, overworked teams, or increased burnout rates. It is important to improve and hone your ability to observe areas of decreased morale, common struggles your team experiences, and changes in overall company or team culture. Maintain close communication with your team through frequent check-ins. Ensure they feel psychologically safe and comfortable mentioning challenges or concerns to you. If you feel that you’ll receive a more authentic, honest response anonymously, then hold monthly feedback surveys to ensure you remain up to date on areas of improvement for the team and culture.
Depending on someone’s conflict resolution style, they may react or avoid conflict altogether. As a result, clearing conversations are a powerful tool for leaders to teach their teams.
Clearing conversations happen when both parties use dialogue to become aligned on perspective after an event has created disconnection. For example, if you’ve noticed a change in an employee’s behavior, observe some feedback that wasn’t received well, or recognize that they seem disheartened due to unmet expectations, it’s time to have a clearing conversation. This conflict resolution tool will enable individuals in leadership positions to understand another’s perspective while creating a safe and comfortable environment for everyone to be heard.
In order to have effective clearing conversations, the individual that initiates the conversation needs to address the following:
- the situation at hand
- the story associated with the situation — this includes how the incident made them feel and their perspective of the situation
- examples of when this occurred
- listening to the other person’s perspective
Having these conversations in times of disconnect or doubt will allow for alignment moving forward because both parties will have an improved understanding of how the other perceives and responds to particular situations.
In order to create a positive, constructive workplace, leaders must remain aware of every factor that plays into an effective feedback conversation. Before giving feedback, you must consider whether it is the right time, the right environment, and if the information you plan on sharing is genuinely going to be useful for this individual. If all of the aforementioned prerequisites can be answered with ‘yes’, follow the next steps to ensure the feedback is received well.
- Ask if the employee is open to receiving feedback at that time.
- Bring up the situation at hand as well as examples of when you’ve seen this occur.
- Ask for their perspective on the situation.
- Come to an agreement on the next steps to improve the situation in the future.
Although remote leadership may come with more potential obstacles than in-person leadership, the tips provided above can help set your company up for virtual success. When leaders continue to lead by example, showcase high levels of emotional intelligence, utilize clearing conversations, and offer helpful feedback, their employees will continue to thrive despite the physical distance between them. It is imperative for leaders to close the psychological gap between all team members in order to ensure the contentment and commitment of employees at every level of their company.