20 May How to stay visible as a leader in Hybrid
“Who is that guy?”
“Mmmm, I think he’s got something to do with sales?”
I heard this frantic, whispered conversation at the last All Hands event I attended.
The ‘guy’ in question, was actually the MD of the business. The one who’d grown the business from nothing to the muli million-pound business it is today. But these newbies had no idea. Sure, they’d heard his name but had never actually seen his face. This is something I’ve seen increasingly as businesses welcome new team members on board when working in hybrid.
We can’t inspire people if they don’t know who we are
As leaders, we’re here to inspire, motivate and create a vision for our team. But we can’t assume that just because we’ve got the big title people know who we are, what matters to us, or what we stand for. This is especially true as we scale and the ratio of employees to leaders increases.
Add hybrid into the mix and this becomes even harder.
So how do we stay ‘present’ when we’re not physically present?
Get on video.
I get it, you’re busy building the business, the last thing you need to worry about is overcomplicated communication. A quick video to your team keeps you visibly at the forefront of their minds and is a great way to share plans, experiences, or thoughts outside of All Company get-togethers.
I worked with a fantastic MD who did a monthly video that was shared across the whole business. He kept it to 5 minutes and used it as an opportunity to share what he was working on, what was going on across the whole business and to celebrate any exciting wins.
Short, sweet, and relevant – these videos had a fantastic viewing rate. Teams reported that they felt supported, that leadership was in touch with their reality and that employees had a clear idea about what was going on, even if they were working remotely. Interestingly, people also felt that the MD was a human being, not just ‘the boss’ and communication started to become more transparent across the whole business.
Keep it simple.
It doesn’t have to have a shiny production value. You can film using Zoom, Loom or even your phone! Ask your people what they’d like to hear more about and set aside 5 minutes to share what’s going on in your world.
‘Walk’ the Floor
Physically walking around the office used to be a great way to stay visible. Dropping in on conversations, overhearing something juicy, being present. Not so easy in hybrid.
Take a proactive approach. Drop into the occasional team meeting, just to say hi and listen to what’s going on. One leader I work with does this once a month, working her way around the business over time.
“People were scared at first – they wondered whether I was checking up on them. But over time, they learned I was just there to listen, to build my knowledge of different teams, the dynamics and challenges across the business.
I have to force myself not to try and solve the problems I hear (which is my natural instinct), but by listening to and coaching the team, I’ve built a brilliant understanding of the on-the-ground experiences which has informed our growth strategy. And the team knows I’m not an inapproachable tyrant!”
Create ways for people to access you
Employee Forums are a great way to hear from your people. If you have one already, you’ll know its a great way to give employees closer access to you. Not for every meeting (after all, a huge bonus of having an Employee Forum is that people should be able to voice their concerns outside of the hierarchy), but occasionally doing an ‘Ask me anything’ type session can be really advantageous. It gives you the opportunity to listen to employee concerns and ensure one point of truth.
For truly courageous leaders doing a similar ‘Ask me anything’ session in an All Company setting can certainly up your visibility. But be prepared. You may hear things you don’t like.
The job here isn’t to get defensive, but to communicate why decisions were made and to listen listen listen. Then you can use that intelligence to make more informed decisions in the future.
“At times, going into the Employee Forum has felt like going into a bear pit. Especially during times of change. But listening to people’s concerns means that as a leadership team, we’ve been able to be really responsive to challenges and we’ve had a good idea of where we might experience pushback. It’s hard when people don’t understand our approach. But it’s another great opportunity to share our thought process and help get people on board”.
So let’s not take it for granted that our team knows exactly who we are and what we stand for. What could you do to increase your visibility today?
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