Hybrid Work Team Practices: A discussion guide

Hybrid Work Team Practices

Discussion Guide

With teams spread between in the office and remote with more flexibility, it is time take a look at and discuss team practices related to communication, maintaining relationships, and participating in hybrid meetings.  Below are some examples of practices your team can discuss and perhaps decide on as team commitments.  This creates clear expectations that everyone can uphold.

Hybrid Work Team Practices Discussion Guide

Let us help facilitate this discussion or help you determine which approach might be most beneficial for you, your team, and/or organization.  Contact us.

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Conflict: The Tension that Creates Connection

We all engage in some conflict avoidance; it is uncomfortable, difficult to navigate, unpredictable, and time consuming. Adding complexity to this natural fear of conflict is having to interact more frequently in a virtual environment where conflict can be even more challenging because it’s harder to tell when people disagree, read non-verbal’s, and to jump in with ideas.

Why we fear conflict:

  • Emotions may arise in me that may be difficult to manage and if I don’t, I may damage my reputation or breach trust. 
  • Sharing my views may elicit hurt or anger in others. It may feel like a personal attack. 
  • Calling out my disagreement or a different viewpoint (or asking others to do it) might damage relationships. 

As coaches, a great majority of leaders we encounter have shared a desire to improve in both their ability to navigate conflict and seek tools and techniques for mining for productive conflict because they know: 

  • Passionate debate results in better ideas and solutions.  
  • Assumptions can be revealed and challenged resulting in better understanding and outcomes.
  • Important and difficult issues can be identified, clarified, and then resolved.  
  • Building trust requires that team members are able to embrace each other’s similarities and differences. Having opportunities to share different viewpoints opens us to new ways of thinking and knowing one another.

Navigating conflict requires respect and understanding of the real fears that exist while having the courage to engage in it because of the benefits. The key is to keep it productive make it a practice. We have a tool that will help you develop this skill for yourself and your team that is designed for both in-person teams and those who work in a virtual environment.

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Consider Delegation

If you are like many leaders right now, you have too much on your plate and are overwhelmed.  Everything seems like a priority and it’s hard to find time to be strategic.  Delegation to others may be a tool that gives you the strategic time you need. 

Leaders hesitate to delegate because of a fear of passing overwhelm to others or that the task/project won’t be completed as effectively as if you did it yourself. However, in many situations there are more upsides to delegation if done thoughtfully – developing others, creating greater engagement and retention, and providing organizational exposure. With planning and clear communication, delegation can yield all the benefits, while minimizing the drawbacks.  

Download this delegation tool which helps leaders plan and communicate to ensure nothing is missed during the delegation conversation.

For other tactics to reverse leader overwhelm enroll in:

Overcoming Leadership Overwhelm: Time, priority, and energy management.

This course is for leaders at all levels who want to make changes in how they manage their energy, time, and priorities.

·  This program is not focused on teaching you a lot of new theories about time and priority management.  Instead, it will help you implement the most important vetted practices to prevent burnout including time in each session for planning, practice, and accountability (reporting back to the group on what you are implementing).

·  8 one-hour weekly live virtual Zoom sessions with only 10 people per class

·  Focused on implementing practices and adapting them to your reality while learning successful techniques from peers.

Program Takeaways:

·  Prevent burnout and devote more quality time to your family, health, and what’s important to you

·  Rank order priorities to structure your day and manage your time 

·  Manage your commitments and triage your to do list

·  Implement communication protocols to combat 24/7 connection

·  Construct a self-care structure and manage your energy

·  Increase your bandwidth by reducing multitasking and implementing automation

Designing Engaging Virtual Meetings

Can virtual meetings be as engaging as those that take place in person? The short answer to this is yes! But, they require intention.

Here are some best practices for making the most of your virtual meetings. 

1)  Create social time. We are social creatures, hardwired to connect with one another. In person meetings provide natural space for social time at the beginning and end of meetings that is lost in a virtual space. Use check-ins, questions, and/or round tables at the beginning of virtual meetings to get people talking. “I’d love to hear from everyone, what was one good thing (or customer interaction) that happened yesterday? Who wants to start?” This also provides a less awkward approach to taking a roll call.  As the leader, check off each name from the attendee list as each person speaks. Invite those left to speak or verify they are not on the call. 

2)  Set norms or guidelines. Some examples we’ve commonly seen are no multi-tasking, all must contribute, silence is not consent. Seek verbal commitment or use a poling tool to solicit input. Let them know they are permitted to answer “I need to think about it” or “I agree with our approach and don’t have anything else to add”. 

3)  Agendas are not optional.  Without a roadmap (agenda), distractions will win the attention of your participants/team. In a virtual environment it is even more critical to offer overt cues about what can be expected. 

4)   Ask specific questions. Nothing invites more crickets in a virtual meeting than “any comments or questions?” If you are struggling for something specific, start with “what did we get right and what did we miss?” If input is required to make a decision, the question should be more specific like “what are any hesitations with this option?” Asking each participant to contribute is also a best practice. 

5)  Get feedback. Ask participants to share their experience of the meeting, ways to improve, topics for the next meeting, etc. Reserve the last five minutes to talk about meeting effectiveness. If your participants know you are learning together and are committed to ensuring the time is valuable, then they will more actively participate each time you are together. 

Tips for Leading Remote Teams in Times of Change

There is no better time than now to evaluate and adjust the communication practices on your team and at your organization.  Communication during crisis and uncertainty is of vital importance to keeping everyone in the boat, rowing in the same direction, and calm.  As your methods of work change, and for many, spending more time away from being physically together, evolving your leadership and approach to communicating will need to evolve too.  

As we coach leaders through these uncertain times, they inquire about what they can do to show support to their teams during change and how their communication practices can be a vehicle of support.  A few of our recommendations are:

·  Communicate to your team your intention to support them and the importance of staying connected and establishing good communication practices.  Add to your messaging that the practices and technology being utilized or established now for communication will likely serve the team well when things evolve to the new normal.

·  Ask your team about what their needs are right now and what communication practices can support them for example, more frequent touch bases or formally scheduled time since chances to meet organically are minimized.  Do this through one on one meetings, surveys/polls, and/or team meetings.

·  More frequent communication is necessary during rapid change and/or crisis because day to day interactions and watercooler discussions may not be there to enable a normal pace of exchanging information.  This can create a gap in team cohesion.  For example, a monthly in person meeting could morph into weekly shorter meetings with some time set aside for less formal conversations on how everyone is doing.

·  Gain agreement on what should be reserved for individual, versus team meetings, versus email. Distinguish between what communication methods are most appropriate for things that are not urgent, those that are urgent, and those that are an emergency.

·  Use video communication as much as possible.  Body language adds necessary color to the conversation and offers greater connection. 

·  Create digital chat-like channels for less formal or rapidly evolving communication.  For example, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom chat.  These won’t clog email.

We are here to support leaders and teams through this ever-changing landscape.  We are happy to offer free consultation to leaders on communication practices or help them lead team discussions on establishing and refining communicating practices.  Give us a call at 269 220-0053.