5 Keys to Being an Effective Hybrid Manager (Video & Podcast)

7 min read
Effective Hybrid Manager

Intentionality, trust, autonomy, connection, and accountability represent the five keys to turning a traditional office-centric manager into an effective hybrid manager. That’s the key take-away message of this episode of the Wise Decision Maker Show, which describes the 5 keys to being an effective hybrid manager.

Video: “5 Keys to Being an Effective Hybrid Manager”

Podcast: “5 Keys to Being an Effective Hybrid Manager”

Links Mentioned in Videocast and Podcast


Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the wise decision maker show where we help you make the wisest and most profitable decisions. I’m Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, the CEO of disaster avoidance experts, the future of work consultancy that sponsors the wise decision makers Show, and today we’ll talk about the five keys to being an effective hybrid manager. Now, the future of work is clearly hybrid. When we talk about the impact of hybrid work and job satisfaction, there was a survey of 5300 people by VMware, which found that 82% report higher said job satisfaction with hybrid work compared to offer centric work. And 56% of hybrid workers report increased productivity compared to their in office work. 55% of hybrid workers report increased collaboration compared to full time and office work. Research basically finds that 74% of US companies are adopting a permanent hybrid model of some sort, with at least some people coming to the office only some days a week. Now, the future of work is clearly hybrid. But middle managers are not very well prepared for hybrid work, we see high burnout and middle managers. So a future forum survey found that 43% of middle managers report burnout 43%, that’s nearly half. And that’s a higher demographic than for either top leaders or rank and file workers. The burden of implementing policies in hybrid work is a major source of burnout for middle managers. Because the executives make the policies, I help 24 companies figure out their policies for hybrid work, and work with their leadership team to figure out hybrid work. And if I wasn’t there to facilitate implementation, they just make the policy and they’d lead the implementation up to the middle managers, which is not a good approach. So I do not advise companies to do that, I advise them to work and train their middle managers on how to do the implementation effectively. Middle managers don’t have prior experience with hybrid work. So they naturally do what comes just naturally to them. They apply office centric management to hybrid teams. And when they try to shoehorn this office centric management into hybrid work, it doesn’t work very well, and then they feel burned out. And because of the results of meeting expectations, hybrid management requires a distinctly different approach, it differs, it is not the same thing as office centric management. And there are five keys I want to emphasize for hybrid management success, one, intentionality, not automaticity. Two is trust, not paranoia. Three is autonomy, not micromanagement. Four is connection, not presence. And finally, fifth is accountability, not faced. So those are the five principles we’re going to discuss. Now, you will have to understand that hybrid work involves a context shift challenge managers, as we all naturally go on autopilot throughout their activities. This usually works well when we’re driving a car, most of the time when in a dangerous situation, it’s good to go on autopilot, because we are just going to be so preoccupied with driving. Otherwise, it’s like the first time we’re driving, right? We do not want to do that. Except when the complex changes when you to, let’s say, enter a highway or you’re leaving a highway, or otherwise, when you’re trying to do something different when you’re maybe trying to figure out your way. And the GPS is not giving you the right direction. The context has changed. And you need to figure out what is different when the context shifts. That’s when you need to be intentional, not autopilot. But our brain, unfortunately, is poorly suited for changes in context, because of what’s called the status quo bias. It’s a tendency to stick to what we know we’re comfortable with. And so managers naturally want to return to what’s comfortable for them, the dynamic in the pre pandemic environment when they know how to control and manage things. Another problem is functional fixedness. It’s kind of like the hammer nail syndrome. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you learn one way of functioning. Everything seems to be the appropriate way of functioning. So let’s say when you learn one way of leading a team, then you apply that leadership methodology which you learned in the office to hybrid teams, and that doesn’t work very well. So managers using Office centric methods in hybrid work is not great, and they end up ignoring better solutions specifically adapted to hybrid work. This is a serious problem. So these are two cognitive biases, the status quo bias and functional fixedness which I see as the biggest problems in hybrid work. So Let’s talk about the first one, overcoming management or leadership to intentionality. Middle managers must be trained to recognize context shifts, and find the best methods for the new environment in which they find themselves and accept that it will not be comfortable, they have to accept that they will be uncertain that they will lack control, they’ll lack confidence. And that’s fine. That’s what happens naturally in the new environment, you don’t have control, you don’t have confidence, you have uncertainty, middle management, stuff like that. I mean, nobody likes that. But especially people who are in minute management positions, because they’re supposed to be the ones who are in control. They’re supposed to be the ones who now they’re supposed to be the ones who have confidence. But the first step to making good decisions and figuring out how to work well in a hybrid context, is admitting that you don’t know that your previous experience has not prepared you. For this new context, I need to learn new ways of collaborating or leading of matches. Okay, not paranoid. Productivity. Paranoid is a term that was used by Microsoft researchers who found that 85% of leaders, quitting middle managers lack confidence in employee productivity when the employees are spending time working remotely. So this last cuff trust leads to what Microsoft researchers called, quote, productivity paranoia, unquote. So leaders fear that there’s lost productivity due to not observing their followers. In fact, however, research shows that five to 10, there’s a large productivity boost, for remote work five to 10%, it’s huge. There’s been a very clear increase in productivity in the US since the start of the pandemic, so very, very clear boosting productivity, or since people might remotely but unfortunately, since there has been a forced mandate returned to the office, there’s been dropping productivity. So you will see that US productivity Shut up in q3 q4, q2 q3 of 22,000, and started going down in q1 of 2022, as the return to Office mandate started taking place, which is not great. So that is an indication, of course, that productivity is higher with remote work, and you need to be really thoughtful about why you’re asking people to come to the office. You need to address the trust issues middle managers have, it’s difficult for them to trust employees when they’re not observing employees. And that’s another cognitive bias we have to deal with, that I have to deal with often when I talk to the middle managers called the illusion of control. There’s an overestimation of control over external events. That’s what the illusion of control refers to. So it’s prevalent, more authoritarian managers who can have a tendency to micromanage and they believe that in office presence means productivity. But research shows that in office employees actually work much less than eight hours a day. How much time do you think they spend working? Only 36 to 39% of their time, according to various studies, is spent on work. The remainder is spent on non-work activities. So you don’t really trust employees to work when they’re working remotely. Because extensive research has shown they’re more productive when they work remotely. Middle managers need to learn to trust employees that expectations of performance will be met. And showing trust very clearly leads to better performance. There are certain things that have done better in the office like collaborative activities, more intense forms of synchronous collaboration, mentoring and training, socializing, nuanced conversations, but for productivity for your wishes for individual tasks. Overwhelmingly, it’s but they’re done at home for the large majority of people who have a normal work from home well set up office. Now the middle manager’s desire for control is unrealistic and goes against the principle of autonomy, which is very important for knowledge workers. Autonomy is critical for productivity, engagement and innovation. For knowledge workers, it’s best done through intrinsic motivation. So we do our best work when we’re intrinsically motivated. And that comes from having autonomy. There is a study of 370 companies that shows that more innovation comes with autonomy rather than less autonomy. And a survey by Metis found that 80% prefer independence or higher levels of autonomy at work. This is about knowledge workers. So very, very clearly, people have a preference for it. And research shows that it increases productivity, engagement and innovation, job satisfaction, morale, engagement and for retention. autonomy in the post pandemic environment means flexibility and self control of work location and time. So the best approach is to give flexibility to the entire team and let the team determine its approach. Then they will figure out when to collaborate. That’s the time when they need to be in office, when to do mentoring. And what to do on the job training, when to do socializing, when to have nuanced conversations. Again, an up survey showed that 46% of employees are engaged if a team determines office policy, versus 35% of employees are engaged, if office policy is determined by the leadership. So that’s a huge, huge improvement. That’s nearly 20% improvement. So this is really an over 20% improvement. So this is really great. Now, one thing to keep in mind is connection. There’s a challenge of Team connection and remote work. So the research on remote work shows that you have stronger relationships with your colleagues on your team. And you have strong connections between team members, the same thing found by Microsoft study, but you have weaker cross functional connections to people on other teams. So this cross disciplinary innovation, innovation is hampered by remote work. So hybrid contexts require an intentional color, connection, and cultivation for those cross functional weak ties. So that you have better cross functional collaboration, which is important for innovation for major projects. To build weak ties. It’s beneficial to have in person events, happy hours, volunteer activities, training sessions, with more than one team and bear that have remote social activities like video game sessions, virtual escape rooms, other sorts of virtual activities that are building weak ties across the company, and connect junior staff, with senior staff through mentoring. That’s an effective way to extend the network. If you make sure that the mentors are not part of the immediate team of the mentee. It gives junior staff on the job training, which is a major challenge in when people spend time working remotely and improves their integration into the organization which is another big benefit for people when they spend time working remotely. Now, another thing to think about is how do you evaluate your people, the traditional staff evaluation relies on FaceTime. This is not great. So this enter your review is based on interactions how the leader feels about whether team member how much time their team members spent in office, it’s vulnerable to what’s called proximity bias. 42% of supervisors report sometimes forgetting remote workers and remote staff are 15% more productive according to one study. But the same study found that they were less likely to get promoted, even though they are quite a bit more productive. Equating face time to accountability and productivity and performance is a bad idea. So effective hybrid evaluation means accountability, not face time, focus on meaningful goals, outcomes that advance a team’s business objectives. And then don’t focus on time spent working to focus on those meaningful goals and outcomes. So have weekly one on ones that include performance evaluation, most good managers already have weekly one on ones, meaning you might have bi weekly if you’re have someone who works a lot of their time independently or in a managerial position you might have one month, let’s say you’re a middle manager, you have a number of lower managers under you, you will have me be meeting with them maybe once a month or something like that. I see their tendency in companies I help transition to figuring out their hybrid work. So have with you but weekly as the general tendency for teams of me to collaborate together more intensely. So every three to five key goals for the week, at each weekly one on one meeting. Then, on the next meeting report on the progress coach, the mentee coaches the supervisor on problem solving, so that all team members know where they stand. So that’s really helpful when a supervisory Team Lead meets with their team members once a week for managing performance, as well as other things that once a week meeting sets three to five weekly goals. Then the next meeting goes over three to five weekly goals, coaches them and problem solves them if they don’t accomplish some of their goals, and then sets three to five goals for the next week. It really helps the members know where they stand and gives them psychological safety. So to recap, how do you thrive in the future of work? There are five keys to effective hybrid management for those middle managers: intentionality, trust, autonomy, connection, and accountability. So these are the five keys to being an effective hybrid manager. And I hope you found that this episode of the wise decision makers is beneficial and valuable for you. Make sure to subscribe wherever you check this out and leave a review. It helps others discover the show and it helps us improve the show. Alright everyone, I hope to see you in the next episode of the wise decision maker show. In the meantime, the wisest and most profitable decisions to my friends 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.