Context and Strategy: Supporting team success
There are unique challenges that come with Line Managing/Leading a blended/hybrid team, not least making decisions about who returns to the workplace and when, and who continues to work from home.
The adoption of key strategies will help to ensure that, regardless of where and how people work, successful new routines for setting priorities and promoting a shared culture of purpose and accountability can be realised.
It is important that our people are in conditions where they can thrive. Decisions about where, when and how are likely to be impacted by a number of factors e.g. business need, aligned with team requirements and individual circumstances. Colleagues with chronic health conditions (shielding) or with other significant personal circumstances may need an individualised approach. Line Managers should complete the Return to Campus re-induction checklist when planning a return to campus to ensure appropriate risk assessments are complete and staff are fully informed of the health and safety requirements for a safe return to campus.
A blended/hybrid team will work best when teams collaborate and decide together what could work for them, when options are trialled, feedback is open and where adjustments are made as needed.
Using the Conversation Compass as a team can help to prioritise keys areas for the team to discuss and agree upon.
Having clarity and a sense of direction is always important but especially when working as part of a blended/hybrid team. Remind your team about the ‘big picture’ and specifically how their work fits into the University Strategy. The Strategy conversation prompt could help to do this. Priority work should be discussed as a group and individually. Showing how each team member fits into the bigger team and organisational picture will help to maintain motivation and engagement. Communicate the importance of each team member’s role and how they complement and support each other.
Being clear about expectations and accountability early on will ensure your blended/hybrid team can work together productively and know who is doing what, by when. Make sure that everyone knows what is expected from them including: clear and agreed times for availability to work, how you will keep in touch, what will you consider and review in relation to their performance, how work-life balance can and will be managed (taking breaks and switching off at the end of the day), how and who colleagues can contact if they have any problems or their circumstances change. The Objective Conversations prompt could help here, but also remember the Wellbeing and Working Differently Hub.
Managing a blended/hybrid team takes an altered skills set, but this is not an insurmountable obstacle. As mentioned previously don’t try to micromanage and be aware that people who come to work first and leave last aren’t necessarily your champions. Think more about managing by outcomes, every member of your team is integral to what you achieve so focus on the quality of outcomes and not whether they are ‘visible’ in online forums or at their desk.
Make sure that your team know where they stand - being fair, open and honest will ensure your team are better able to cope well under pressure. Your role as a leader in the VUCA world in which we now exist is to change Volatility into Vision, Uncertainty into Understanding, Chaos into Clarity and Ambiguity into Agility.
It is important that you lead by example and switch off, check out and transition back to ‘home’ life. This Going Home Checklist can help do just that.