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ATD Blog

Hybrid Team Success Depends on Your Leaders

Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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In today’s dynamic and global work landscape, hybrid teams have become dominant, pressing leaders to evolve their approach. According to recent Global Leadership Forecast 2023 data, a staggering 58 percent of leaders worldwide operate in hybrid or remote roles.

Despite hybrid work’s promise of flexibility and efficiency, only 27 percent of leaders claim to be very effective at leading hybrid or remote teams. Surprisingly, what was once considered a “perfect compromise” is now revealed as the most challenging and least engaging approach to work culture.

Ahead, we’ll discuss the skills required to lead hybrid teams, including why a progressive approach is crucial to harness the potential of a hybrid workforce and how to find success in constant change.

Four Key Leadership Behaviors That Drive Engagement

For hybrid and remote work to be successful, leaders must foster engagement. We examined leadership behaviors and found that four consistently drive higher levels of engagement:

1. Maintaining trust: Leaders who establish and nurture trust with their team members create a foundation of psychological safety, which is essential for collaboration and innovation.

2. Encouraging innovation: Leaders foster a culture of adaptability and growth by facilitating learning and development and encouraging team members to embrace innovative approaches.

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3. Listening with empathy: Effective leaders listen actively and respond empathetically, demonstrating a genuine understanding of their team members' emotions and concerns.

4. Providing visibility: Offering opportunities for team members to showcase their skills and contributions boosts morale and enhances team cohesion and motivation.

These behaviors are essential for hybrid team success and are particularly significant for employees navigating the dual realities of in-person and virtual work cultures. Hybrid employees are 4.4 and 4.6 times more engaged when their leaders prioritize trust and visibility within the team dynamic, respectively.

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Consider the Whole Picture When Leading Hybrid Teams

Even though leading a hybrid team means considering individual behaviors, leaders must also implement a holistic approach that addresses the unique nature of the hybrid team environment. With hybrid teams, leaders must foster a sense of belonging and inclusion, no matter where team members are located. This means leveraging technology to make communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing easy and seamless.

It’s also crucial to address personal and practical communication needs. When it comes to personal needs, leaders must demonstrate empathy and genuine care for each team member’s well-being.

Moreover, effective leadership of hybrid teams also requires a shift toward outcome-based performance management. Instead of focusing on hours worked or physical presence, leaders should evaluate performance based on results achieved and the impact delivered. Leaders can ensure that hybrid team members remain aligned and motivated toward common goals by setting clear expectations, encouraging autonomy, and giving regular feedback.

Conclusion

The data is clear: The success of hybrid teams hinges on leadership behavior that promotes engagement, collaboration, and adaptability across physical and virtual spaces. Remember that culture is driven from the top. Leaders need to shed old-school thinking that employees must be physically present to be productive.

By embracing these behaviors and adopting a forward-thinking leadership mindset, organizations can unlock the full potential of their hybrid workforce and thrive in the evolving work landscape.

About the Author

Rosey Rhyne is a senior research manager on DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research team.

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