by Guy Harris
The transition from individual contributor to leader calls for changes in at least three areas of your work life: your relationships, your skills, and your mindset. Managing these three transitions simultaneously is almost always a challenge, and the challenge is made even more difficult when you work with a “hybrid” work in the office/work from home team.
Of these three transitions, the relationship transition is the one most likely made more difficult by a hybrid-team work environment. In From Bud to Boss, we recommend that you have intentional transition conversations with your team, your friends, your new peer group of leaders, your new boss, your former boss, and any other people with whom you interact on a regular basis in your new role.
When you are all in one location, these conversations probably happen relatively easily and naturally. When some of your team and your peers are in the office and some are at home, these conversations can run in to some challenges.
Here are three suggestions for making these conversations more successful so that you can transition to a leadership role as smoothly and quickly as possible:
Talk with remotely located team members as richly and frequently as possible
For most people, the frequency and richness of talking with people in person is different from talking with people on the phone or on a video call.
Talking with people often happens naturally and organically in the office – you run in to each other in the hallway or the break room or you stop by each other’s office or work location during the day. It is relatively easy to have conversations without “making” them happen. They just happen because you are working in the same location.
Talking with people on the phone or via video call takes a bit more effort and rarely happens organically. You won’t “bump into” someone on your computer the same way you will walking down the hall.
This difference in conversation frequency and richness can lead to transitioning relationships with people you see in the office relatively quickly compared to transitioning relationships with people who are working from home. To combat this potential challenge, make it a point to schedule calls with your work from home team members so that you can put in the work necessary to develop a leadership relationship with these team members. (Pro tip – Phone calls are good, and video calls are usually richer and more dynamic.)
Talk with your peer group
Talking with your team is probably a pretty natural thing to do. Talking with your leader peer group might not be – especially if some are working from home and some are working in the office. As with your team (and assuming you are working in the office), you can have frequent, incidental conversations with other leaders who are also working in the office. And you can miss the opportunity to talk with leaders who are working from home.
As with your team, remember to schedule time to speak with your leadership peers who are not working in the same location as you so that you can also advance those relationships and work out any cross-team communication issues before they become a problem.
Make your conversations about more than just work
In all of these conversations, the tendency to talk only about work tasks so that you can get on to something else is higher with phone and video calls than with face-to-face conversations. While getting tasks planned or completed is definitely a reason for talking with either your team or your peers, remember that a big part of your leadership transition is also about relationships. Both sharing bits of your personal life and hearing parts of theirs are major contributors to building a relationship in order to develop the mutual trust and respect typically seen in high-performing teams.
While you work on developing your leadership skills and adjusting your mindset, remember to invest the time necessary to build healthy and productive relationships with both your team and your leadership peers. Having transition conversations with them so that you understand each other better is a key part of your relationship development effort. If you work in a hybrid work in the office/work from home team, keep these three tips in mind to minimize the risk of missing out on great professional relationships with people who work from home.
The best way to equip yourself with all the tools you need to effectively lead remote and hybrid teams is the Remote Leadership Certificate Series. Find out more about this career-enhancing opportunity.