Why is managing in the hybrid world so hard?
By Hebba Youssef
Historically, corporate America’s approach to management has been:
- Push management as the only track for career growth
- Promote top individual contributors to manage
- Provide little to no training
But, when the world went remote the issues with this approach were put on full display…
- 43% of managers say they are burned out
- 2 out of 5 managers felt unprepared for management when they stepped into the role
- 87% of managers said they wished they received more training
It is a struggle managing in our current environment with low engagement/declining productivity, inflation and wage issues, and general employee anxiety about layoffs and this economy. Not to mention actual work projects that need to be done!
Spoiler alert: In the hybrid world managing is HARDER.
Why? Partially because our behaviors are skewed to in-person interactions from all those years we went to an office.
But what do I think the real reason is? We’re struggling to communicate effectively in the remote world. At the root of everything a manager does IS communication.
From things like how to build relationships to setting expectations to how we praise each other, our communication has to evolve in the hybrid world to rely on more than in-person interactions.
I have 3 tips that can help you manage in the hybrid world that I hope will help you communicate effectively and be a better manager!
Tip 1: Build strong relationships with your team.
The key to managing in the hybrid world? A strong manager <> employee relationship.
If you do not have a solid relationship with your team, managing will feel like an uphill battle.
Because strong relationships are rooted in trust and you need trust to manage in the hybrid world.
Trust that a Slack message isn’t written angrily.
Trust that work is being completed.
Trust that time isn’t being wasted.
Trust that judgment is aligned.
How do you build a strong relationship with your team?
By getting to know their working styles and listening to what they need to be successful! Ahh communication, my old friend!
Here are some questions you can ask to get to know your direct reports better:
- How do you prefer to receive feedback?
- How do you prefer to receive appreciation or recognition?
- What is your preferred working style? (verbal/written etc)
- How can I better support you as a manager?
- What do you want to accomplish professionally in the next few months?
Listening to their responses and crafting your approach to managing them will be a game changer.
Don’t be afraid to ask your team for feedback on how things are going. If they are afraid to give you feedback that’s an indication that things might not be going well and the relationship needs a reset.
Tip 2: Set clear expectations
How can your employees perform if they don’t know what’s expected of them?
Uhh they can’t.
Did you know: nearly HALF of employees don’t know what’s expected of them at work!
Managing in the hybrid world can be chaos but one thing you should make sure you’re doing regularly is setting expectations.
How to set expectations with a direct report:
- Determine what you’re expecting from your direct report (check out your job description if you’re struggling here)
- Discuss expectations verbally with your direct report and leave room for them to ask questions or push back on what’s possible!
- Communicate expectations in writing somewhere. Writing things down helps get things accomplished.
- Connect expectations to the big picture like company goals/success (btw this is what I see managers forget to do most often!)
- Revisit on a weekly or monthly cadence depending on your environment
Pro-tip: start off on the right foot – when onboarding employees make sure you cover expectations with them in their first week.
Bonus reading: this article has a bunch of great tips!
Tip 3: Show recognition & appreciation
Giving recognition and showing appreciation is FREE. It doesn’t take anything but a few seconds to tell someone!
- Recognition = focuses on a specific thing someone has done (performance based)
- Appreciation = more individualized about who a person is
Building a culture of recognition and appreciation:
- Improves engagement
- Improves retention
- Improves productivity
- Improves morale
UH brb going to tell everyone at work I appreciate them!
Both recognition and appreciation are so important in the hybrid world because employees may feel invisible.
I know I’ve felt that way!
By building a practice in the hybrid world of showing recognition and appreciation you will start to improve engagement and morale. And your team will know they are performing and someone sees it!
Managers should know how every team member prefers to receive praise, recognition or appreciation.
This can be accomplished by simply asking: How do you prefer to receive recognition or appreciation? Some employees will tell you not publicly others will say SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
Guess which one I am?
To-do for today: recognize or appreciate someone on your team.
Be mindful of: who you are recognizing. If you are consistently praising the same group of employees then what does that mean for everyone else? Inclusion is super important here.
What can HR teams do to support managers?
IMO: Managers are one of the most unsupported groups. We expect SO MUCH from that group but never properly set them up for success.
I know HR teams are working hard on how to support employees in the hybrid world but managers need a lil more TLC.
I will never stop being a woman standing in front of corporate America BEGGING it to train its managers.
2 things you can do right away after reading this newsletter:
- Ask your managers what they need AND customize your approach to their needs
- Take each of the tips above and turn it into a manager training session
Feel free to share this with your managers! There’s so much to talk about re: manager training I think I need 5 full newsletters to touch on every aspect.
If you need more support ASAP check out HR Text Therapy launching March 20th!