Guest post by Ainsley Lawrence
Every new manager gets confronted with challenges. Leadership classes and experience working under other managers can help you gain some of the skills and insights you need to oversee a team of workers, but there will always be elements of the job that you have to learn through trial and error.
The rise of hybrid work arrangements has further complicated life for today’s up-and-coming managers. As a newly promoted leader, you not only have to master the skills you need for face-to-face oversight, but you must also be able to organize remote workers and learn how your team members perform and interact in both online and in-person environments.
Here is a look at what you need to do to bolster the success of your hybrid team members.
Understand that expectations are different for managers
When you are part of a team, your individual performance depends on your skills and work ethic. When you transition to management, however, your success hinges on the actions of the team as a whole. You can no longer ignore the poor performance of other staff members by thinking “at least I did my job well.”
You need to come into your new role with these expectations in mind so that you can focus your efforts on planning and getting the best performance out of each employee.
One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid workplace is getting everyone on the same page whether they are in the office or working remotely. One way to organize an online/in-person team is to create a central project management platform that has all the necessary information about assignments, due dates, benchmarks, and resources. Because the expectations are clearly defined and all activity takes place on a central platform, you can ensure that workers are remaining engaged and meeting expectations whether they are remote or onsite.
Be available and approachable
New managers need to find a balance between looking over workers’ shoulders and giving them total autonomy. One way to find the “middle path” is to check in periodically and always be available for questions and clarifications.
Remember, if someone isn’t clear on their role or if they are working on the wrong tasks, it will reflect poorly on your performance as a manager. Occasional check-ins are necessary, and you should also make employees feel comfortable about coming to ask questions when they do not understand something.
One of the simplest ways leaders can get team members to come to you if they need guidance is to be nice to them. You should always be sure to pay full attention to them when they are there so they do not feel like they are bothering you.
Schedule face time with employees when they are in the office
Many managers have been overseeing fully remote teams over the past couple of years, and four in 10 workers currently work remotely at least part of the time. If you were in such a situation, you might have developed working relationships over video calls or chat applications. When your team finally comes back to the office, you have to start over and learn to work together in a face-to-face environment.
One option for overcoming this is to make sure you schedule interactions with employees when they are in the office. You might have weekly group meetings when the majority of the team is in the office and then meet individually with workers to get updates on their progress.
Be open and transparent
One way to encourage communication, appear approachable, and connect with employees is to be open and transparent about your leadership style. Even a manager who is an introvert can let workers know that they prefer individual meetings to group sessions or would rather receive emails than calls. You might find that most employees are more responsive when you frame your preferences in this way.
These steps can help you adjust to taking on the responsibility of a management position and succeed in a leadership role in a hybrid workplace. You should always keep in mind that every new manager has to negotiate a learning curve when they step into their new role. Those who are successful are not perfect from the start, but they can learn from their missteps.