IF the global pandemic and shutdown taught the world anything, it was the benefits of remote work. Offices sent employees to work from home and found those employees could be effective and efficient. Thus, many businesses have continued to encourage staff to work remotely. Many others that do require some time on-site have developed a hybrid practice that allows people only to come in when necessary. In most cases, this approach has been a resounding success across the board; however, inefficiencies must be addressed in some situations.
It’s not quite a perfect world, hybrid or remote working scenarios. Of course, as a relatively new phenomenon, how could it have achieved perfection so early on? Some areas that teams have found need tweaking include meeting deadlines and lacking communication and feedback. Add to that list poor cohesion and collaboration within the team, and you might start to feel hopeless.
Fortunately, none of these problems are unsolvable; indeed, there are clear pathways forward that can help your team’s hybrid practice improve. It is essential to understand that at the root of most issues within a team are those related to human resources. Understanding your team members and taking warm but clear and direct action is essential. Once you’ve gotten to know your team, their strengths, and their weaknesses, you can implement an action plan for success.
1. Know Your Role
The first step to take in managing a team is to manage yourself. Just like that old proverb, “physician, heal thyself,” you as a manager must manage thyself. This can mean proper time management and understanding the basics of your position. What is your job? What is expected of you? What are your metrics of success? Once you’ve answered those questions, explore your own strengths and weaknesses as a project manager and leader so you can play to them.
Armed with self-awareness, a clear directive, and a vision for what’s to come, you can begin to manage your team. Remember that the weight of success or failure falls mainly on your shoulders, so your job is to support your team as best you can. When you have a struggling team member, reach out and ask how you can help. When a member of your staff performs above and beyond expectations, celebrate their achievements as a team. You will be even stronger as a hybrid project manager with a few technological tips.
2. Get Your Team on a Project Management Application
You understand yourself and your role and feel good about your team and their roles. It’s time to get everyone on the same page. The best way to do that is through a project management application like Click-Up, Slack, or Asana. You can post projects there and move them through each phase, including which team member is assigned to which phase. You can even integrate the application with time management tools like Calendar.com or Google Calendar.
Getting your team all on the same software applications helps create a unified feeling. Many people who work from home, even in hybrid form, may feel isolated and left out. These emotions can often lead to burnout and resentment, which will certainly affect team morale and outcomes. You can avoid this downward spiral by getting your team onto one of these applications and generating a virtual office atmosphere.
3. Establish a Workflow With Clear Benchmarks and Deadlines
With everyone on board, ensure everyone knows the roles and responsibilities of everyone on the team. Each team member should know who hands off work to them and to whom they must hand off work to. With whom do they collaborate directly? And what is the critical nature of the role of each person’s contribution to the team? When you establish this clear structure, everyone has respect for everyone else, and they understand how they contribute to a larger vision.
It is also imperative you establish a structure within each project. Set benchmarks and deadlines, and let your team know why. A common problem in the workforce today is that people feel disconnected from their labor. Working from home can exacerbate that issue, leaving people feeling like an unimportant number among many. You can resolve this by explaining the entire project, how it benefits the company, and how the benchmarks and deadlines make sense. Then, help your team see the value of calendar management to keep everyone on track.
4. Update or Replace Communication Technology
A seemingly small problem that can lead to more significant issues is the failure of communications systems. If your employees have slow software on their computers or outdated smartphones, expecting communication is challenging. It can be frustrating for team members to have tight deadlines and intense pressure only to have technological failures. While your staff must have a good wifi connection, it is up to you to provide newer hardware and offer guidance on updated software. In short, make sure everyone on your team has the tools they need to perform the tasks you assign.
The tools your team needs will be both the physical computers and phones and the software that goes on them. On your end, provide the most up-to-date hardware that will support constantly improving software. Then, require your team members to have the most updated versions of Zoom, Skype, or Google Teams so that you can have regular team calls. This combination of efforts on your part and the part of your team will allow for ongoing conversations and updates around projects. Your team will likely feel valued when you provide the equipment they need, and as a result, they will be more likely to stay updated.
5. Encourage Input and Collaboration
Finally, once you’ve built a cohesive team, gotten them on board and online, and ensured they have everything they need, you only have to keep it going. The best way to do that is to encourage input and collaboration. While many managers say they have an open door, the implicit message is often that “the door” is closed tight. You let your team know you appreciate feedback and input by asking for it and valuing it when it comes in. Listen attentively, react with genuine consideration, and react with wisdom.
Then, show your team how to turn to each other and rely on each other. It is not a competition among your employees but a unified effort toward one goal. You are all working toward the same vision — a successful company serving a real community need. When this vision is fulfilled, everyone succeeds. Teach your team members to collaborate toward that aim by connecting employees who will work well together and can learn from each other.
Ultimately, a project manager’s most important job is to cultivate a happy workforce. Happy employees work harder and aim higher. Interestingly enough, it is not usually money that makes employees happy but feeling valued, and this is where you come in. You can provide this service — keeping your team happy — by ensuring a strong, cohesive, collaborative team. And you can do this by providing the tools, software, time management guidance, and feedback they require.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by RDNE Stock project; Pexels