Leading Hybrid Teams

Just like all of you, we’ve been asking the question, in the era of Covid-19, how do you make work – work for everyone? A hybrid workplace – where some employees are doing their jobs remotely while others are in an office – can present a number of challenges, especially for managers. What does effective leadership look like in our new world?

We’ve listened to podcasts, attended webinars, read articles, and talked with numerous clients and have identified 3 key areas of focus for leading Hybrid teams.

1. Leading with Empathy

What does it mean to lead with empathy? It’s about tapping into your Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ), your ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.

Why is this important? In our current environment, people are under more stress than ever, working hard to balance new responsibilities and ever-changing work conditions, feeling concerned about their health or the health of their loved ones.

As a leader, it's important to be aware of how team members are feeling and what they may need to be effective. Asking questions, listening, and offering support are critical to helping your team adjust.

The key skill here? Empathy. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes so you can understand where they’re coming from. We like this video from Brene Brown that does a great job sharing the difference between empathy and sympathy:

2. Purposeful Planning

Think about what you need to do to get the right tasks done in the ideal location (office or remote) and how can you support your team to help them plan to do the same.

When you’re in the office, it’s a good time to connect. Think about planning team meetings or cross functional meetings, group working sessions, or even difficult conversations. It’s also a good time for hands on work that involves products or prototypes.

For home or remote work, think about the things it’s easiest to do on your own: emails, individual project work, meeting and calendar planning, and individual touchbases.

In either case, don’t forget about celebration and recognition! It is so important for everyone, regardless of where there are, especially in times of change or uncertainty.

One thing to watch out for here is spending more time or paying more attention to those who are in the office when you are. It can be easy to forget to invite a remote employee to a meeting when most people are in the office, or you may drop by someone’s cubicle for an impromptu touchbase. Instead, be purposeful, plan so that you include all employees, remote, office based or hybrid. You want the full benefit of each team member’s thinking and ideas.

3. Intentional Meetings

When it comes to meetings in our hybrid work world, it’s all about knowing your goals. What do you want to accomplish in the meeting and what’s the best way to do that? Think about whether it’s a presentation, discussion, or brainstorming session – given the format, what’s best way for your team to participate to make the meeting a success?

  • Presentation – a virtual meeting may be the way to go. Everyone can see the screen and ask questions in the chat.

  • Discussion – virtual or in-person can work. When you have some people remote and some in the office, think about how everyone can participate. You may need to set a timer or plan to call on each person to ensure you get to hear from everyone.

  • Brainstorming – in-person is ideal, but virtual can work too. Think about having 2 facilitators, one for those who are in person and one for those who are remote. Then have the groups come together to share their ideas.

Right now, we all feel more pressed for time than ever. So, focus on meeting efficiency! No one likes having a meeting for something that could have been sent in an email. Be intentional, about how you ask people to spend their time, instead of scheduling a meeting, send an update prior to the meeting and set an expectation that everyone reviews the information before they attend. Use the time together to collaborate, discuss and problem solve.

We recommend a "Focus on 50" - A 50 Minute Meeting that is. Why? To allow time for a 10-minute break to stretch, take a walk, or get coffee before your next efficient meeting begins!

To stick to your 50 minutes, be sure to have an agenda.

Why? Because it helps you structure your meeting so that you can ensure you remain “people first” and your team stays on track.

An agenda should include a few key things:

  • Meeting Details: What is the meeting called? Date, time and location of the meeting.

  • Meeting Objectives: What are we looking to accomplish? Strong meeting objectives help keep the meeting on track.

  • Overview of Discussion: Being very clear about a few pieces of information relating to the discussion and how you want people to participate is critical and prevents the meeting from getting derailed.

  • Action Items: make note of action items, who is going to complete the task, and by when to make the magic happen!

Would you like to dive deeper into this topic? Do you need a partner to help you and your team navigate through a hybrid work environment? We have plenty of information and tools that you can apply now to make work – work for everyone! Contact Kane Learning at 740-755-5305 or