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Want a Smooth Transition Into Hybrid Work?

Want a Smooth Transition Into Hybrid Work?

Picture your favorite puzzle.

When you empty the box, pieces could land anywhere. Some pile atop each other; others form their own trails further from the rest. The odd three may have flown far into the corner or slid underneath something.

That’s one way to think about diverse talent models and hybrid working. From internal talent to freelance and crowdsourced talent, the workforce is scattered and more diverse than ever before. What this convergence of diverse talent models has done is further accelerate the exciting transition to hybrid work.

We can think of hybrid work as the puzzle pieces all belonging to one set and necessary for the completion of the final product, yet contributing from different locations in varying degrees and unique ways.

From booking office shifts to the opportunity to work from any corner of the globe, hybrid work is exciting, but still has many leaders and teams scratching their heads as to how they really get there.

The reason? We have noticed that because this is a bigger conversation of behavior change, dependable systems, and team cultures will form a much-needed safety net as teams transition into a work environment where talent is organized differently and work is no longer a place where you go, but just something you do.

Now, as leaders begin testing these systems and rebuilding cultures that support hybrid work, there are a few important factors that will help remedy the anxiety that grips leaders as they catch a glimpse of the multi-colored puzzle pieces scattered all over the floor.

1) Belonging.

As part of a conversation on using neuroscience hacks to change behavior, David Rock cites a Colorado State University study aimed at understanding the main drivers behind behavior change. It found that there was one variable that come out on top: community.

In workplaces riddled with change, it makes a difference when leaders understand their teams crave belonging in order to cope and thrive.

When team members feel others are transitioning as they are, they are empowered with a sense of safety and security, and the threat response that is often associated with work lowers drastically. How can we foster and encourage a sense of belonging in our team through routines and rituals that help individuals feel they can relate to a bigger whole?

As organizations expand rapidly in size, mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship have a way of creating smaller hubs and cohorts where every member of the team feels part of a social whole.

2) Mastery.

When I join a team, one of my keen pursuits is to be of value and contribute something of my expertise. Not only this, but I want to know there is room within the organization’s systems and resources for me to hone my skills and consistently sharpen my expertise.

Mastery is often underestimated, but is directly linked to our innate desire and need for status and being valued for what we bring to the table.

In what ways can our team contribute to helping individuals hone their skills and sharpen their expertise in their chosen areas? How can we ensure we are giving credit to team members for reflecting and investing in cultivating mastery?

Having an abundance of learning resources available is fantastic. Ensuring individuals across all levels of the organizations know about these and can access them is superb. But what makes all the difference is an organizational culture that translates to lifelong learning.

3) Autonomy.

Whether you consider yourself obedient or not, it takes much more to encourage individuals to transition when your words are all they have to go on.

When instructions come from outside ourselves, they heighten our brain’s threat response. We are not making the choice ourselves, so in an effort to regain our sense of autonomy, we choose something contrary to reaffirm to ourselves that we’re still in control.

The Journal of Applied Psychology published a study concluding that autonomy in our jobs actually has the ability to reduce our mortality rate. What are opportunities for increased autonomy and empowerment in your workplace?

The less we feel in control, the more compromised our senses of belonging and mastery will be. A great place to begin is defining the different levels of decisions that are made within the team, from high stakes to low stakes.

Create systematic buffers to consistently cushion any collateral damage. This is especially important at the early stages, when teams begin flexing their newfound autonomy muscles.

4) Generosity.

A study into empathy and fairness done at the University of Zurich lead by Dr. Tania Singer found that we feel almost compelled to reciprocate what we think we are getting. The point: We value fairness.

We are able to better comprehend receiving a bad hand when we understand that's what we've been giving to others. In which ways can we begin a generosity cycle that our teams can reciprocate?

Craft rituals where different members of the team can feel they are being of service to each other’s needs. This can go so far as enacting rituals of thanks or well-wishes where there is a sense of honoring the other for who they are and what they contribute to the growth and success of the team.

5) Purpose.

Purpose is the glue that keeps us together. When a distributed workforce can still create a clear connection between their work and personal aspirations, they connect on a much deeper level to the organization, other team members, and themselves.

Purpose is the highly undervalued secret weapon in a hybrid work world. How can we begin to understand the personal purpose narratives of our team members and help them align these to the work of our team?

I have witnessed too many leaders hope to build a sense of purpose without having meaningful conversations. The deeper we can tap into the things that set people’s hearts alight, the more we can help them align their work to that. You can then use coaching methods to support each member to make these connections.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and as we build our puzzle, it is vital to keep in mind that many of us are still reeling from the systematic dynamics of hybrid working. So take your time, but keep in mind that the sooner we can create systems and cultures that foster a sense of belonging, mastery, autonomy, generosity, and purpose, the better equipped our teams are to transition confidently into the new world of work.

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If you're navigating an organizational change/transition, just changed functions, or moved homes and want to do it right, Zanele Njapha is who many such as Vitality Global, Marsh & McLennan, Saint Gobain, and Volkswagen are speaking to.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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