During the pandemic and remote working, many business leaders radically adjusted their leadership and/or management styles. In many instances, for example, leaders and managers attempted to maintain strong connections and company culture by scheduling multiple ‘check ins’ with their teams – often leading to fatigue and a resentment around too many meetings. Now that companies are returning to the office, business leaders are faced with a mixed response from employees, and many are navigating a ‘hybrid’ work arrangement and looking for solutions that work for both business leaders and employees.
As with many leadership and team dynamics, this requires a proactive strategy and tangible action steps.
Here are 3 strategies that forward-thinking managers and leaders can employ right away:
Embrace ‘essentialism’ and shorter-term thinking.
To build one’s courage and connection levels as a leader, you’re encouraged to discern what is truly required in terms of team member contact and visibility of tasks and actions. Here, the most efficient way is not to guess or assume but to be direct and ask the team what is working well, and what needs adjusting after working remotely during the pandemic. As with Agile processing and project planning, identifying the narrow parameters in which you are working (for a set period of time) can sharpen focus and boost motivation.
Gain insight into personality styles and motivations.
Importantly, managers are also encouraged to be curious about the style and motivations of each of their team members. This might require following a more informal and engaging approach of having one-on-ones, asking questions of each person. A more formal approach may also be needed – such as using a personality assessment tool or a facilitated dialogue session so the team members can get to know each other better and create a space, away from day to day tasks, to have meaningful conversations about what makes them tick. When intentions and guidelines are made clear upfront, these engagements have the potential to raise courage levels because team members feel it’s safe to speak up and be themselves.
Establish boundaries, not barriers.
Within a business, being clear about requests you’re making, receiving and responding to is vital. In addition, it’s equally important to know when to hold a line and take a stand. Put simply, boundaries outline what is ok and not ok in any team, project or relationship. Most importantly, they need to be articulated, understood and agreed upon – if people don’t know there is a boundary line in place, they are likely to step/trip over it. If a boundary is set up which prevents any form of discussion or engagement, then a barrier, like a stone wall, has been set up and needs to be understood and dismantled (one brick at a time), to understand why the employee feels the need to hide/self-protect in this way.
By leading with both awareness and empathy, leaders and managers can learn to identify when they are micro-managing instead of connecting and standing back instead of ‘leaning in’ to important conversations