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4 Tips for Managers in a Hybrid World

4 Tips for Managers in a Hybrid World

Whether you’re a seasoned manager of big teams or a brand new manager with just one direct report, managing has never been more challenging.

How much space and autonomy should you give on projects? How often should you check in? How much do you share about upcoming company changes? What personal questions should you ask about a person's wellbeing?

It can be really challenging to know how to adjust your style and approach for remote and hybrid team members - especially at a time where you know there’s a good chance your team members might be open to or actively looking for other opportunities.

If you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to retain great talent and keep them engaged, be sure you’re following these four simple strategies.

[Related: Three Practices to Help You Adapt, Thrive, and Stay Relevant in the Hybrid Work World]

1) Ask your team members how they like to be managed.

It sounds so simple and basic. But truly, one of the best things you can do is to have a conversation about how someone likes to work - what styles and approaches work best for them.

Questions like:

  • How can I get the best of you?
  • How would I get the worst of you?
  • What do you need from me to do your best work?
  • Do you like small talk and pleasantries in emails or conversations, or do you prefer to get down to business?
  • How do you feel about texts, audio calls, emails, Slack as different methods of communication?
  • What time of day works best for meetings vs. deep work for you?
  • How do you like to receive recognition?

Michael Watson talks more about this "style conversation" in his The First 90 Days, which is a great read for anyone stepping into a new role.

Here’s the thing: Everyone is different. If you take the same approach with everyone you manage, you may not be getting the best of each person.

These are so basic and easy to implement, but they make a huge difference. Start by making sure you have the conversation.

2) Regularly meet with those you manage in a meaningful way.

This probably also sounds basic, right?

Much research has been done on the best ways to engage employees, and one of the most effective strategies is to have regular (often weekly) meetings to connect 1:1 with those you manage. Team members who get twice the number of one-on-ones with their manager compared to their peers are 67% less likely to be disengaged.

You probably do meet with your direct reports - but do you stick to those meeting times? Are you discussing bigger goals and their career development?

If you’re consistently rescheduling, canceling, or showing up late to these meetings, you’re disrespecting your direct reports. People want to feel in control of their schedule and what’s expected of them - and no one likes to be disrespected.

If you’re not taking the opportunity to discuss career goals and growth, your direct reports will be less engaged. People want to feel like they’re building a better version of themselves and growing. They want to know they are in control of goals they set and the ability to meet those goals. If you don’t know what their personal and career goals are, it’s time to make those a part of your one-on-one conversations.

Set regular meetings, stick to them, and make the conversations meaningful.

[Related: Do You Need to "Up" Your Remote Presentation Game? Five Questions to Ask Yourself.]

3) Make feedback future-oriented.

Hopefully you’re giving feedback - positive and constructive. Level up your feedback by making it future-oriented.

When you need to give feedback (positive or negative) it’s best to do it in the moment so it’s fresh in everyone’s mind. Do not not save up all the bad things over the last month to address in one conversation!

Regular feedback sounds like:

The presentation is a bit sloppy and we need more specific data and analytics in here.

Future-oriented feedback sounds like:

This presentation needs work. I want the Board to see all the great info you’ve collected but it’s currently got a lot of typos and formatting errors. What data and analytics do you think the Board will want to see next month? What would you change for the second draft?

4) Bring career goals into the conversation.

There are lots of reasons people leave jobs - better compensation packages, escaping bad managers, or toxic cultures. But one of the most common sources of frustration is a lack of career progression and development at their current company.

If you want direct reports who stick around, you have to give them something to stick around and work for. Showing them you care about their career takes dedicated time and initiative.

It starts with asking those you manage about the professional (and maybe personal) goals they want to achieve:

Where do you see yourself in five years? What key skills or experiences do you think will be necessary to build to achieve your professional (or personal) goals? What areas do you want more coaching on and what would that look like for you?

It continues by framing feedback and work project assignments with how they set the person up for those goals they’ve outlined. Regular management conversations might sound like:

I need you to take the lead on this deck for the client. You’ll need to do X, Y and Z.

Great management conversations sound like:

How do you feel about taking the lead on this deck for the client? I think it would give you the opportunity to flex those presentation and influencing muscles you’ve talked about wanting to strengthen. I think this would add to your portfolio for future client-facing work.

If you truly want to stand out as a great manager - particularly in our complex world right now - it takes dedicated time and energy. But just taking ten minutes before each meeting to think about your feedback delivery and engagement plans is a great start to build some of these strategies into your daily practice as a manager.

[Related: Flypaper Onboarding: A Manager's Secret Weapon]


Emily Lamia has been helping people grow and develop in their careers for over a decade. In 2015, she founded Pivot Journeys to create experiences to help individuals navigate their next career move and find meaningful work.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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