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If you are a leader, and your team have been forced to work in a hybrid fashion since the pandemic – some at home, some in the office – have you been asking yourself this question?
“Do I need to shift some of my attitudes or behaviours to lead my hybrid team?”
Or maybe this sounds familiar:
“What do I need to do as a hybrid leader to make sure we’re as successful as when we were working together in the office?”
At CLP we believe the biggest difference between managing a hybrid team versus a purely on-site team is how you communicate.
In a recent survey, most managers said that “how people communicate with each other on the team” makes the biggest difference.
This is a big departure for leaders who are used to having their team on location. When you have a question, the instinct is to talk to someone about it in the office – not write to them. When you have a new project to kick off, you hold a physical meeting. When you have a question, you walk over to someone’s desk to ask them about it. Source.
However, in hybrid teams, you cannot simply walk over to ask a question. And scheduling a Skype meeting for every question doesn’t work either.
The most successful hybrid leaders understand this and have diligently embraced writing.
It may sound old-school, but writing is actually the most effective form of communication for leaders with hybrid teams.
But we’re not just talking about jotting ideas down and pinging off emails. We mean adopting a skilled way of writing. A do-or-die hack for leading hybrid teams is writing – clearly, precisely – and to communicate in this way, with your team, on a daily basis.
The best hybrid leaders lean towards asynchronous writing.
Asynchronous writing is writing deliberately and consciously with a goal or expectation clearly stated and waiting for an answer (for minutes, hours or even for a few days) before the next communication on the same topic.
Being a precise writer is an essential part of being a good hybrid leader. The quality of your writing and your ability to communicate clearly determines the quality of your leadership in a hybrid working environment. Decision-making, agreed targets and expectations are being clearly communicated (and documented for future reference) enabling others to be efficient in execution.
So, instead of just communicating in an ad-hoc manner in a virtual meeting, try combining it with a team-wide memo to recap key details. Writing an announcement, a project kick-off, or decision discussion allows people to think about it and to respond to it. The focus is on quality. The quality of your message and the quality of the responses.
Miscommunication can be very damaging within an organisation and can lead to unnecessary delay, excessive effort and even conflict. Unfortunately, we tend to pay less attention than we think to how our communication lands with others, which can foster misinformation without even meaning to.
Our assumptions and intuitive overconfidence in our own ability to communicate mean that we are sometimes blind to our own blindness. Misinformation happens when we simply do not give matters enough focus.
To stop the spread of misinformation, leaders need to make sure their teams pay attention to what they are reading. Use key words in the subject line of emails and avoid putting everyone on CC to reduce “mail overload”. Agendas, minutes and memos can all be captured on internal communication software for future reference. Encourage a higher quality output of writing and a calmer working environment.
Higher quality output + calmer work environment
If you choose to prioritise asynchronous writing over synchronous communication, your team culture will gradually become less reactive and more transparent, and you will notice decisions and responses being made much more thoughtfully, and thoroughly.
Advantages of asynchronous writing:
- Gives people time to triage (determine if urgent/important)
- Gives people time to engage with what is expected of them
- Easier to share information
- Keeps a record of what has been shared
So, if you’re keen to start introducing more asynchronous writing in your leadership approach but are unsure how to start, ask yourself:
- Which meetings can I avoid and instead use written communication?
- How can I write my emails in a way that is succinct, structured and to the point? We found a good article on LinkedIn that tells you how to do this.
- Where can we as a team store our minutes and memos for easy access?
- What email protocol can we follow to reduce ‘mail overload’?
This is one small module of an e-learning course designed to help leaders lead hybrid teams. If you’re interested in building your remote leadership capability please get in touch to discuss your requirements in more detail.