Hybrid working – how to get the balance right

curiumadmin | 21 Feb 2022 | News | General, Performance, Curium, Coaching

A recent Times article highlighted that people in management roles are struggling with the demands of hybrid working, according to a survey of more than 1,200 managers conducted for The Times.

Concerns included:

    • the ability to build meaningful relationships with the members of their team
    • a decline in overall team wellbeing, including strain placed on working women
    • keeping up with the speed of change

We’ve certainly seen some of these play out for the clients we work with, so wanted to share 3 key areas we believe could help.

Keep connected through coaching conversations [image of two people talking]

We often hear that hybrid working has made it harder to build meaningful relationships. Part of the problem is a mindset that we must have a reason to meet with someone virtually now, which makes most virtual conversations task based. Meetings tend to be shorter, but more frequent, and they start and end with task.

Managers can beat this, and connect with their people in a meaningful way through coaching conversations. These conversations focus on being curious – listening rather than telling, giving team members the opportunity to explore and deepen their thinking, as well as decide on and take positive action to move forward.

Don’t wait for formal one-to-ones, as a manager and leader you can take the opportunity to have on the spot coaching conversations, for example after observing a meeting or on a piece of work or just a check in on goals.

So how can you start to introduce more coaching conversations, if this is not something you do right now?

Set the stage for this as the ‘New normal’

Be transparent with your team that you are going to spend more regular time together to have coaching conversations.

Set time aside to spend coaching and keep to it

Show commitment to this new way of working and ensure there is continuity for your people.

Be intentional

Think in advance about all your team members and how coaching might benefit them, then open up the conversation to the individuals, ensuring you collaborate on a coaching plan together.

Look after each other: focus on wellbeing [image of hands cradling heart]

54% of survey respondents reflected that productivity has improved during hybrid working, but 57% of managers felt wellbeing of their team is down compared to pre-pandemic. This wellbeing impact seems to be felt particularly by middle managers, with strain on female managers.

So, what can be done to focus more on the wellbeing of your people?

Lead by example

The results of this survey indicate organisations who don’t have a leadership focus on supporting a supportive, growth culture are feeling the wellbeing pain the most.
Senior leaders should be sending a clear message that the wellbeing of their people matters. Back this up by role-modelling good practice, including taking breaks, taking part in wellness challenges, supporting mental health awareness.

Involve your people in the organisational conversation and decision making

When your people feel involved and well informed about what’s happening in the organisation, it increases motivation and helps people understand how their role fits into the bigger picture. This increases engagement which is directly linked to wellbeing.

Encourage a culture of openness

Encourage regular check ins with team members to connect with them on a human, not task level, to understand how they’re doing and to reflect on what might be causing them stress.

Help to normalise conversations about mental health, and encourage everyone to think more about their own and colleagues’ mental health, what factors can affect this, and how we can all support and look after each other.

Working as a team to adapt and change [image of hands holding sparklers with their tips pushed together]

While focussing on individual relationships and support is important, remember that you’re leading a team. We’re stronger together, so use your tools and experience to continue to foster that sense of team and belonging.

Have clear, shared goals

Having common goals that are meaningful at an individual level is a key part of feeling connected and motivated. Work together as a team to define the goals you’re working towards, and help the team join the dots between what they’re doing as individuals and as a team to contribute to the organisation moving forward.

As a leader, communication is key – make sure that you’re sharing what’s important right now and what’s changing and why. Make time to listen out for any early warnings of things that are holding the team back and could hinder progress.

Be planned and structured in how you spend time together

In a hybrid world, having a structured forward plan is essential for helping your team manage their diaries and key considerations like childcare arrangements.

Plan team time in the office for regular days of the week or month (checking that those days will work for your team!) and set a clear expectation that those will be the in-person collaboration days.

When working remotely, think about how you’ll make the time to stay aligned – will you have daily 15 minute huddles in the morning, or ‘check in and check out’ at the start and end of the week? Work with your team to establish the cadence that works for you.

As a leader of your team, don’t forget to plan in time to be available and connect – from setting aside 30 minute slots to greet new starters, through to having regular check-ins where you can use those coaching skills to build and foster meaningful relationships with your team.

Celebrate the wins together

Times can be tough for people, and small victories overlooked.

Make sure you take the time to celebrate the wins along the way, champion each other and call out those 1%s that make life easier, move you closer to your goals, or just make you smile.

We hope you found this helpful! If you’d like to get more tips, or learn more about what we do, follow us for regular updates.

Emma Taylor

Chief People Officer

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