Merge's Blog

Leading virtual and hybrid teams

I’m so excited to kick-off another brand-new video series for 2021.  For the last few years, I’ve focused on a different subject each year.  Last year the topic was “Productivity Tools for Leaders” – we did 22 videos.  And prior to that, we’ve done series on “How to develop and grow your people”, and “How to motivate your employees.  So this year, I’m going to focus on … drum roll please … Tools to lead virtual and hybrid teams.

Tools to lead virtual and hybrid teams

You might wonder why I chose this topic.  Well, given what happened last year, it was actually an easy decision.  No matter WHERE you work, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the WAY we work.  For those jobs that can function remotely, it is very likely that people will return to work gradually.  For a variety of reasons, some employees will request to work out of their homes for longer. And for the ones that return, physical distancing may still be necessary.

And then there are the jobs that cannot function remotely. There are certain products or services that require people to “go to work”. You can’t fix a refrigerator from afar. If you work in a manufacturing or processing plant, you can’t “work at home”. The cashier at the grocery store can’t check you out remotely. In these industries, while obviously staff will not “work at home,” the protocols under which they work have and will continue to alter significantly.

My point is this.  Even as pandemic restrictions lift, it is still very likely that a significant degree of virtual work will continue, most probably resulting in a hybrid work environment for an extended period of time.

A virtual or remote team is one where all your staff work from home, including you.  A hybrid team is one where some staff work out of the office, and others work out of their homes.  And hybrid teams can also have people that do both – work from the office some of the time, and from home some of the time.

We are in a dynamic and ever-evolving environment.  But as leaders, we still need to engage our employees, peers, clients, and other stakeholders.  We still need to operate as high-functioning work teams.

It takes more effort to lead hybrid teams

When it comes to remote or hybrid teams, it takes more work to lead.  It takes more work to communicate – whether it’s you getting the message, whatever it is, to your employees, or whether it is getting employees to communicate with one another.  It takes more work to motivate; it takes more work to resolve conflicts.  If you thought these were challenges that existed when your team all worked in a single location, they are multiplied and compounded when virtual or hybrid comes into play.

So starting later this month, and every one or two weeks, I’ll offer up a video blog outlining one specific and practical technique to help you lead your virtual or hybrid team.  One idea which, if you implement, will help you communicate and motivate; will help you proactively deal with issues before they become problems; will help you create high-performance teams that do great work, and get stuff done!  I don’t yet know exactly how many of these video blogs I’ll do this year, but my plan is that by the end of 2021, you’ll have at least twenty, perhaps more, practical tools in your toolbox for leading virtual and hybrid teams.

So I hope you’re excited – I certainly am – and that you’ll stay tuned for this “Leading virtual and hybrid teams” series that will start up later this month.  In the meantime though, I’d love to hear what questions and issues are on your mind when it comes to this topic.  Add your comments below.  I’ll make it a point to address them in future video installments.

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