As employees ask for ongoing flexibility, many organizations are embracing a hybrid model where individuals may work in the office a few days each a week, or they may choose to be remote, in-person or a mix of both.
While many teams have been able to successfully navigate remote work out of necessity, managers should be mindful of the long-term implications of the shift. To thrive after the pandemic, staff need to be equipped to collaborate productively from different and often asynchronous environments.
To recognize the talents that employees need to develop to operate effectively in this environment, consider 10 habits of successful hybrid groups and the underlying soft skills that support them. As you read through the list, I encourage you to make notes of the practices your staff have fully embraced and where there may be opportunity for improvement.
Common Habits of Productive Hybrid Teams
1. They are aligned on common goals.
Individuals who don’t interact with their colleagues every day need to understand the group’s overarching objectives to guide their work. It’s also beneficial when employees recognize how each person contributes to the whole. To put these practices into action, communication is essential to articulate progress toward goals and address challenges. Prioritization skills will also help your people chip away at collective targets.
2. They take initiative.
In hybrid environments, teams that can motivate themselves to take individual and group action will be more successful. Consider how you can support your people in expanding their self-awareness, so they can learn about the internal drivers that will propel their own success. Collaboration capabilities can also give staff members tools to better encourage and motivate each other.
3. They have norms.
Operating principles are relevant in any group, and when employees work in different locations, it’s especially useful to have common rules of engagement. To co-create norms, individuals will benefit from strong communication and collaboration aptitudes. Emotional intelligence also promotes self-regulation to help individuals adhere to norms and address conflict if the norms are not followed.
4. They are results oriented.
By prioritizing outcomes over activities, hybrid teams can support their success because they are less concerned about the day-to-day actions of their coworkers and more focused on the results produced. By investing in skill building around problem solving, collaboration and creativity, you can promote a mindset that focuses on outcomes.
5. They can navigate change.
Even with norms and clear priorities, circumstances are always evolving. Groups that are not physically in the same location may have additional challenges in getting back on the same page to address transition. To navigate change, hybrid team members will benefit from talents like adaptability, communication and stress management.
6. They communicate often and effectively.
In a distributed workplace, individuals need to use virtual meetings, chat channels and collaboration tools to their fullest extent to operate productively. To manage multiple avenues and deliver a meaningful message, I invite you to invest in building your staff’s communication skills, including expanding their capacity in written and verbal communication as well as negotiation and listening.
7. They honor each other’s time.
When navigating different schedules, it’s important to be respectful of one another’s calendars. Successful groups plan ahead, block out time for projects and meetings and keep their colleagues informed of changes in their plans. They also honor their coworkers’ off-hours because they recognize the importance of work-life integration. To support these practices, help your employees strengthen their time management and communication capabilities.
8. They get to know each other as people.
Simply understanding a colleague’s job function and responsibilities is not enough to work together productively. Strong teams also have an understanding and appreciation for their coworkers as individuals. Interpersonal aptitudes like emotional intelligence can promote a positive environment where staff members are interested in learning about one another and have empathy for each other.
9. They proactively ask for alternative perspectives.
Great teams do more than just tolerate other input, they actively seek out the thoughts of their colleagues. These individuals appreciate the gift of cognitive diversity as a way to arrive at better results and improve upon their ideas. Soft skills like collaboration, creativity, problem solving and curiosity help groups embrace this important habit.
10. They create psychologically safe spaces.
Teams that are able to candidly share dissenting opinions and be open about mistakes tend to be better decision-makers and have healthier dynamics . While creating an environment like that does not happen overnight, some of the underlying talents that support psychological safety include self-awareness, emotional intelligence, communication and curiosity.
To summarize, if you’d like your people to adopt the practices above, I encourage you to empower them with 12 interpersonal aptitudes:
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving
- Stress management
- Time management
Take a few moments to revisit the habits that you identified as areas of opportunity. Consider which of the talents listed above appear most often within those practices. Then, you can start to develop a plan to build those valuable capabilities.
One Way to Set the Foundation for Soft Skills Development
It can be difficult to know where to start to help your people collaborate more effectively. I recommend beginning with self-awareness. Explore opportunities to expand self-understanding through mindfulness programs or workshops like Emergenetics’ Team Dynamics for Small Groups and Meeting of the Minds .
As your employees learn more about how they prefer to think and behave, they can recognize their own strengths and the diverse preferences of their colleagues. That foundation of self-knowledge and respect for the brilliance of others can set the groundwork to help staff identify which soft skills are already strong as well as where they may need further development.