How Do Leaders Motivate Their Employees in a Hybrid Environment?

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Did you know that over 66% of companies are planning to go hybrid moving forward? In this massive, unprecedented shift in the way we are working, the question is, how do leaders motivate their employees in this new multi-channel environment? Besides ensuring that your executive search process gets the best leaders on board, here’s what you can do to motivate your employees in a hybrid environment.  

What is a hybrid work environment?

Simply put, a  hybrid work environment is a combination of in-office and remote working. It is not just about employees who work remotely; it is a new way of working that requires coordination between all team members and technology, whether they are in the office or on their home couches. 

While some might think of this as simply an enhanced version of flexible scheduling — like shifting to part-time hours to accommodate child care — a hybrid workplace is actually a way for leaders to restore balance to their teams’ lives and better manage flexibility in how employees work. Especially now that the pandemic has made our home offices feel like full-time workspaces. 

As we move through 2022 with enormous changes still underway due to the pandemic, hybrid workplaces are going to become more common for companies around the globe. And for executives to be prepared for this new reality, they will need to understand how leaders can motivate their employees in hybrid environments.

Below are a few ways to kick start your hybrid work foundation:   

Leaders must inspire employees to do their best work

To motivate employees, start by explaining the ‘why’ of their work. In times of uncertainty and change, it is especially important for leaders to communicate the purpose behind a task or project. Employees are found to be more motivated when they understand the big picture and how their role fits into that picture.

Leaders also need to understand that motivation is personal. While understanding the ‘why’ may help motivate many employees, motivation is a personal experience, so it is essential to truly understand what drives each individual on your team and what holds them back from doing their best work. 

Moreover, every employee is different. Some prefer praise and recognition for outstanding work (extra points if you do this publicly) while others are driven by opportunities for growth and development through new projects or learning programs. Still, others may be incentivised by monetary rewards or bonuses for meeting project goals on time or even early! 

Knowing your team members well enough to recognise which motivation strategies will not only help you better inspire them to be more productive but it will also speak volumes about your leadership skills and commitment to those who report to you.

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Bear in mind that the leader’s tone sets the tone of the entire company. So, it is critical that leaders exhibit a strong sense of optimism combined with empathy toward employees during times of uncertainty — and that they communicate this positivity in both words and actions as often as possible across all channels (emails, video meetings, one-on-ones, etc.)

Recognition is a powerful tool

Consider the ways you recognise achievements because even a simple “good job” can influence employees positively and help them stay motivated. But the best way to show recognition is in a way that’s meaningful to the employee, whether it be publicly or privately. 

Be sure to provide your employees with meaningful recognition for individual wins as well as team wins since it is easy for people to feel like they are doing all of the work while others get the credit.

Understand that recognition is not just about celebrating achievements; it is also a way of letting your employees know they are valued and appreciated members of your organization so that they can feel confident in their abilities and encouraged enough to improve.

Consider what’s working and what’s not

As a leader, one of the best ways to find areas for improvement is to be open-minded and willing to objectively evaluate what’s working in your hybrid environment and what’s not. 

What does your team like about it? What do they dislike? Is there anything you wish you could change? Do you feel that you are doing enough as a leader to support them? Are there any technological barriers preventing them from being productive?

Questions like these will help you identify potential gaps and better support those on your team using effective communication and engagement strategies.

Remember that everyone is different

There are two types of motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when an employee wants to do a task or activity for its own sake, without any apparent external reward. Extrinsic motivation is when an employee does a task or activity because of an expected reward. 

The distinction between people who are motivated intrinsically and extrinsically is relevant to the discussion of how leaders should motivate their employees. 

This doesn’t mean that leaders can’t motivate employees who are satisfied doing their jobs on their own. In fact, it is important for leaders to recognise which employees need more direction, which are able to work independently with little supervision, and which motivators will work best for each individual. 

It is also essential to remember that what works now may not always work later. For instance, a person who thrives in autonomy today may be eager for feedback or collaboration tomorrow; someone who finds intrinsic rewards fulfilling right now may become dissatisfied if he or she isn’t getting promoted at some point; someone who requires close supervision today may desire more independence tomorrow. 

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You get the idea! So, you need to remain on your toes to ensure your employees stay motivated regardless of where they are working from. 

Create a space where people feel they can speak up

The best way to do this is to make sure that the employees know you are listening and that if they have a suggestion, you will hear them out. Remember: one of the reasons people don’t speak up is because they don’t think anyone will listen. When it comes down to it, whether your company already has a feedback system in place or not, simply listening will go a long way toward making employees feel heard and motivated.

One way to listen better is to invite suggestions with specific questions rather than being vague about it. For instance, you could ask your employees what tools they would like to use in their remote work or ask them what changes could be made around the office that would help them feel more comfortable going to work every day. 

You can collect this information using an anonymous suggestion box, a team chat app like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or even through an online survey app such as SurveyMonkey or Typeform (which have both free and paid plans).

However you end up collecting employee feedback, make sure you share it verbally with your team first and foremost — and then go on to take action based on the suggestions offered by your employees whenever possible. This will show everyone that there is buy-in for all levels of the organisation and that no matter who makes a suggestion at work, someone’s ears will perk up and an action plan might be created based around their idea.

Encourage coaching and shadowing other team members

Coaching and shadowing others is a great way to help team members learn from each other. As leaders, you can encourage employees to engage in these activities as they develop new skills or work with new technologies.

The coaching-and-shadowing process is a bilateral learning opportunity, so both parties will have a chance to expand their skill set. In addition to the concrete benefits of being able to accomplish more tasks, this kind of collaboration can help teammates stay engaged when they are working remotely and is a great way for leaders to expand the overall knowledge base of their teams.

A hybrid workplace is hard, but good executives/leaders make it better for all employees

Nobody doubts that a hybrid workforce is difficult to manage. There are many challenges to overcome when employees are split between working from home and from the office. However, competitive leaders know how to motivate and support their employees, no matter where they are based.

Hire ambitious leaders for your organisation with the help of a good executive search service and see your organisation soar in any environment.

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