How To Grow Successful Managers For The Hybrid Work Environment

How To Grow Successful Managers For The Hybrid Work Environment
Summary: As more companies move to flexible hybrid work models, management skills need to adapt to keep up. Learn why you should tweak your training for managers in hybrid work environments and which skills will be key to successful leadership.

Skills And Strategies For The Hybrid Work Model

“Employees leave managers, not companies.”

You’ve heard it before. And while this saying may not be totally accurate (there are many reasons people choose to leave a job), managers play an essential role in employees’ satisfaction and engagement at work.

That’s true for both in-office and remote employees. According to Gallup, remote employees are three times more likely to be engaged and three times more likely to be motivated to do their best work when they have at least weekly conversations with their manager.

When you’re dealing with a hybrid work model, it’s important to make sure your managers have all the skills they need to help and motivate their team members. And that means taking a fresh look at your Learning and Development program.

Is The Hybrid Work Environment Really So Different?

If, like many companies, you’re switching to a hybrid work environment, you need to prepare your managers. While the work they carry out is the same, how they go about it, and how they support their direct reports, will look different.

A great training strategy is essential for any organization. But even the best strategy should be tweaked to develop managers who work in hybrid environments. Here are some of the challenges they face:

  • Coaching employees whose work they can’t directly see. Managers have to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. They need to help every employee stay on task and in sync with their coworkers. This is tricky when they have limited visibility into their employees’ work and reduced opportunities for casual conversations.
  • Encouraging and including in-office and remote employees equally. When one or the other gets more attention, it can cause hard feelings or make employees feel undervalued. This can lead top talent to mentally check out or seek another job.
  • Managing with flexibility. They’re likely dealing with different schedules and time zones. They’re also responsible for setting expectations and following up to ensure deadlines and workflows stay on track.
  • Helping employees thrive in a hybrid environment. New schedules, software, and reporting processes can cause confusion and stress. Managers are crucial to helping employees develop the skill to match. They also need to recognize signs of burnout and be able to take steps to help manage stress.

Giving your managers the skills to overcome these challenges is key to helping your organization succeed and grow in the “new normal” of hybrid work.

Top Skills For Managers In A Hybrid Work Model

Your manager training program should be founded on courses in communication, leadership, and coaching basics. But if you’re training people for a hybrid environment, here are 5 skills to include to help them address the obstacles.

1. The Role Of Leadership In Hybrid Work

Hybrid working is still a fairly new concept, even if your employees have had experience working remotely. Give your managers the foundation to help guide their team to success with a course on what it means to lead hybrid workers.

A basic introductory course can help them see where their priorities should be. It will also provide direction and tips for helping team members transition to the new work model.

2. Communication

Leaders need to communicate clearly and effectively with all employees, no matter where they’re based, to set priorities and ensure engagement.

This can mean teaching them the skills to communicate through different mediums. For example, by offering courses on video conference best practices, writing effective emails, proper email etiquette, or using messaging apps to keep teams connected and on task.

Communication training can also address how to ensure all employees are heard and feel valued. Remote working can leave employees feeling disconnected from their team. Content on clear communication and active listening can help managers share feedback clearly and encourage remote workers to speak up and be heard.

3. Building Trust

The manager-employee relationship is especially important when the manager is the employee’s main link to the company. Leaders have to establish trust so workers can rely on them when they need coaching or problem-solving help.

Courses in building teamwork and relationships of trust will give your leaders the skills to connect their employees with your organization. Feeling more engaged will also help employees to do their best work.

4. Fighting Proximity Bias

Proximity bias is the tendency of leaders to give preferential treatment to employees who are in the office versus those not present.

Off-site employees often get overlooked or treated unfairly by default because, as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Less visible employees are often excluded from important meetings and special assignments, rated lower on performance reviews, and less likely to be awarded promotions.

If managers don’t learn how to recognize and proactively avoid proximity bias, they may drive top talent to, at best, silent quitting, at worst, walking away from your company to find a place where they feel valued. Help keep your workplace fair by training managers to recognize and proactively prevent proximity bias.

5. Inclusion

Even with a firm understanding of proximity bias, leaders can be lost on how to include employees who aren’t on premises. Offer training that helps them see the challenges their remote employees face.

Give them skills and suggestions for ways to bring remote employees more frequently into conversations and decision-making discussions. Coach them on how to devise and implement policies and processes that will create an inclusive environment for the whole team.

Building Successful Learning Programs For Hybrid Managers

Building a program to support your leaders in a hybrid working environment requires planning up front. But the extra work is worth it. Here are a few tips for making your training program a success.

1. Start With The Right Delivery System

A good Learning Management System (LMS) will help you deliver consistent, quality training to everyone in your organization, no matter where they are.

Hosting your training online lets people log in when and where it’s convenient, which means it’ll be easier for them to engage with your content. LMS software will also let you build or host dynamic, interactive courses with a variety of media to help boost learning and engagement.

2. Be Open To Trying Out Your Strategy And Making Changes

Hybrid working looks different for every organization, and you may find you’re dealing with challenges you didn’t anticipate when you planned your training.

The right LMS software makes it easy to update training and roll out changes quickly. Keep an open mind and be prepared to revise content and add new modules as needed.

3. Measure Success

If you want to guarantee results from your training, you have to know how to tell when it’s working. Set training goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so you know what results to expect. Then track results regularly so you can spot problems early on and act quickly to fix them.

For instance, you may have a KPI that says all managers will complete training within the first quarter. If completion rates are low as you approach the deadline, look at where people are stalling. If you find participants are dropping out at a certain spot in the training in high numbers, you may want to revisit that content and make sure it makes sense.

Keep Experimenting For The Best Hybrid Manager Training

Hybrid work models require a unique approach to management training. You’ll need to tailor your content to address your company’s challenges. And you may revisit how and when you deliver training to suit your managers’ schedules and locations.

Developing management training for your hybrid workplace won’t likely be a one-time event. It will take experimentation to find the strategy that works best for your organization. But don’t forget that some skills and values remain essential no matter where people work.

When you make your training a combination of management essentials and hybrid-specific coaching, your managers will be prepared to help their teams prosper in today’s workplace.

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