Video Transcript

Hi, it’s David Patmore here from CAL Corporate Solutions with a quick thought on five must-know strategies to ensure your hybrid team is successful.

In a recent article from Forbes magazines, it said this, “Most project managers, team leaders, or executives will tell you that managing communications is an ongoing battle in the best of circumstances, but with the pivot to hybrid teams, those traditional challenges may just be the tip of the iceberg. ‘The hybrid model will bring serious problems and employers need to get ahead and create solutions,’ insist John Goulding, CEO of the employee experience communications app, Workvivo.” And certainly, I think we would say that there is no doubt that we’re seeing many of these serious problems arise as we all sail off into a more permanent hybrid future. More and more organisations as they roll out their return to work schedules met with greater employees’ demands to support a flexible work schedule that suits the employee, not necessarily the organisation.

As a result, some of the hybrid communication challenges that many teams are experiencing that we need to get ahead of and certainly what the research is telling us as follows. So, the first one here is asynchronous team issues, and this is where we have teams that might work on different days or in different locations and even at different times, and this can impact the organic task communication that often supports efficiency and productivity, and it also really is compounded for teams that perhaps do work at those different hours. This is not probably an issue for every team because some teams still remain synchronous. In other words, working at the same time, and therefore, as a result of that, the communication flow doesn’t change too much. But in an asynchronous model, it can really be an issue, and as hybrid may support flexible hours, the asynchronous thing has certainly come onto the table. So, that’s certainly a problem.

The communication methods that are used. So a lack of structured or formal frameworks to support the day to day interactions, therefore I guess people being left to their own devices. So, rather using an effective best practice method to communicate a message, they might use the most convenient method versus the best, if you like. An example of that might be because it’s convenient to the individual, they might just send a quick SMS which may not necessarily include some of the elements of what that message needs to communicate, and therefore, the person on the other side doesn’t quite understand the message completely. It might be a little bit without context, for example, where a phone call would’ve been better, just to give you an example on that one.

Team cohesion, and this is huge in the hybrid workplace because the communication fragmentation that happens with physical workplace and then remote workplace, all sort of working in combination together, and that is really challenged when there’s no plan for engagement in empathy building, and what ends up happening is the team has a much stronger transactional focus. So, it becomes very task driven, and the relational side starts to fragment and that is a big issue with hybrid teams, that team sort of cohesion eroding away over time. It’s not necessarily evident in a small period of time, but over a longer period of time, it certainly can be a real issue, and then it starts causing things like retention risk and obviously people’s motivation starts to be affected.

The fourth one is digital literacy skills, and with the greater demand on technology and particularly written skills, we would say that it’s somewhere in the vicinity of about 64% in hybrid models, it becomes a critical factor for the success of internal, external communications that people have strong written and digital literacy skills.

Then the last one is the information blind spots that can happen, and this is where employee confusion and perhaps anxiety through incomplete or missing information. An example of that is, and it could be unwittingly, not being put into the loop, and it might cause dropouts, could cause assumptions, or worse still, it can start to create voids, and we all know that the or a saying that I have is the paranoia in the void, and when we have a lack of information, sometimes we tend to make it up in our head and it’s generally never positive and normally go to the negative side of things.

So, here are the five strategies that we need to know to ensure hybrid team success. So, let’s have a look at these. Now, some of these may work for more than one, and they’re addressing those five problems that we just highlighted.

The first one we’ll look at from the perspective of asynchronous teams. Create intentional intersection points. What I mean by that is, within the work schedule, there needs to be some definite points where wholistic communication, in other words whole team communication, can take place. This will certainly reduce fragmentation by building something that is consistent, not ad hoc or not just when we need it, but it has a consistency to it, so it provides opportunity for individuals to realign to the big picture often, and I would always recommend to increase the frequency of this as needed.

The second thing which is develop a communication guide or a checklist is really to address what we’re talking about, a lack of structured communication or not having a communication framework. So, having a guide or a checklist is best practice that has a best practice outline to it really supports the team to understand the communication expectations and protocols, like the dos and don’ts and as well as what methods need to be used. So, people are not just thinking conveniently, but they’re thinking more about what would be the best way to get their message across and if we’ve got a guide or a checklist for that as a leader, it can be very helpful, even though we might think it’s an intuitive thing or people should just know, it’s common sense, the old saying that says the thing about common sense is it isn’t that common.

The third one is repurpose the team, and this is really looking at that team cohesion, and I think there’s probably a couple ways to address this, but firstly, I think one of the key challenges, even to what people are calling the great resignation is really got a lot to do with people needing to find or needing a newfound purpose. Giving the team a fresh sense of purpose that creates a unity and a focused goal for the future is really important, and certainly after the last couple of years, it is something that leaders are finding they’ve had to really dig deep and as I’ve used the term, repurpose the team as a collective because people really need to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves that gives them a sense of personal meaning and the feeling of making a valuable difference, and when people don’t feel that, they start to disengage because they start to not feel as valued. Now this isn’t always easy to tap into, I know, but good hybrid leaders do find ways to engage the team as a collective, to be a part of something greater than they are as an individual.

The fourth one, and this is really talking about supporting the digital literacy issues we were talking about is really to assess the current skill competency of the team, identify what those gaps are in the digital literacy area, and develop upskilling pathways that support where each team member is at, and that’s really important because it’s not necessarily a generic approach. It’s actually a customised individual approach which is one of the things that hybrid brings to us.

Sometimes we can’t just do a blanket type of strategy for the team in say our skills upgrade. It may need to be customised more individually which means we need to take different approaches. Maybe setting them to a training workshop, not always the best solution. Sometimes obviously it can be if it’s more of a wider spread issue in the team, but it could be in the form of providing coaching or mentoring or buddying, those types of things, or even just as a leader, giving regular check-ins to support the individual’s skills and to give them suggestions and maybe deal with their frustrations and challenges in getting to the required results.

The last one to deal with the blind spots is really design a customised communication plan. Now, when we design a customised communication plan, it really should identify what those blind spots are. There might be a bit of pre-consultation that needs to take place, what are the drivers, and then it maps out a proactive response to ensure everyone has the best opportunity of being on the same page, and they’ll be informed to a level that they need to be operationally, but as well, it has a relational inclusion and engagement strategy integrated into it from a communication point of view which is having those regular check-in points that we often hear about.

Anyway, I hope these few thoughts have resonated and been of value to you. I’ll definitely include a link to the original article below where you can read more on this in depth. Anyway, thanks for your time, and bye for now.