Since March 2020, we’ve witnessed nothing short of a revolution in the way we work. Leaders in organizations of all sizes, nature and geography have navigated all manner of uncharted waters. Some are even sailing successfully. Today, over three years since massive-scale hybrid work became a thing, we’ve documented the challenges, pitfalls, pro and cons of leading hybrid teams. At the center of every leader’s responsibility is creating team alignment.
Let’s distill what we’ve learned about fostering and strengthening team alignment in the new/now normal hybrid workplace, starting with four insights:
- Prioritize Flexibility and Trust
The pandemic highlighted the need for adaptable work structures. Leaders discovered that rigid, one-size-fits-all policies just don’t cut it. Simultaneously, many learned to value outcomes over hours clocked. Embracing flexibility means acknowledging that each team member’s circumstances may vary. Trusting your team to deliver results, regardless of their location, is essential. If you can’t achieve that trust, you can’t create team alignment.
With team members dispersed, clarity and transparency, always critical to effective communication, became paramount. As leaders recognized the need for deliberate and frequent communication channels, they learned to use and juggle a mix of mediums to foster a team culture where everyone’s voice is heard, irrespective of where they’re working. Leaders who didn’t make the effort to learn (fixed vs. growth mindset?) saw their teams fragment and their talent walk.
- Cultivate a Culture of Empathy and Inclusion
The virtual environment can be isolating, and inclusivity can wane if not consciously nurtured. Leaders have learned the power of empathy in understanding their team members’ unique situations, motivators, and derailers. They’ve also learned to encourage open conversations about personal challenges and triumphs and ensured everyone felt valued, regardless of their identity, beliefs, or lifestyle choices. Inspiring leaders value differences and foster an environment where diversity of thought is invited and celebrated.
- Prioritize Well-being and Work-Life Integration
One more time for those all the way in the back: The boundary between work and personal life has blurred. Leaders have learned—sometimes the hard way—the importance of supporting their team’s overall well-being. This includes encouraging breaks, advocating for self-care, championing mental health initiatives, and offering real resources for a holistic approach to well-being.
Let’s distill these insights into four practical tips that you can take on right now. You may already be applying some of these.
- Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Ensure every one of your team members understands their roles, responsibilities, and the goals the team is collectively working towards. Establishing clear expectations provides a roadmap for success and minimizes potential misunderstandings and therefore, misalignments.
- Foster a Culture of Recognition and Appreciation
Celebrate wins, both big and no matter how small. Acknowledge individual and team achievements regularly. Recognition fosters a sense of belonging and motivates team members to continue putting forth their best effort, regardless of their physical location.
- Leverage Technology to Connect
Leverage collaboration tools to bridge the physical gap. There are so many exciting tools out there, with new ones surfacing like magic. Dare to explore these to support and power-charge virtual team activities, brainstorming sessions, and knowledge-sharing platforms. For this to have an impact, ensure all team members have access to the necessary technology and training.
- Provide Opportunities for Skill Development
Invest in continuous learning and development for your team. Offer generous resources and opportunities for skill-building, both within and outside their current roles and responsibilities. Not only to enhance the required skill set and capabilities but also to instill a sense of growth and purpose.
In this hybrid, remote-work era you have tools and systems at your disposal to foster a cohesive, empowered, and engaged team, regardless of where everyone is located. By embracing flexibility, prioritizing communication, cultivating empathy, and focusing on well-being, you can steer your teams toward the alignment required to succeed in this complex, uncertain, and endlessly evolving landscape.
Elevate your Leadership Potential
To learn more about creating team alignment and executive coaching, reach out to Gilly for a consultation.