Considerations for leading and interacting when you head a hybrid workforce


If you are micro-managing your team, either you have the wrong people, or they have the wrong manager.

If you’re a leader or manager, and you’ve recently felt that the hybrid working arrangement – both place and people – makes you feel out of control…

Relax, you’re not alone.

Leaders often feel like they are the only person in the world who can control their business and its environment. And that’s fine. But what if you become a bottleneck that sabotages your team’s performance?

Take a few moments now to reflect.

Micro-managing is unsustainable and exhausting for you and your team. It will suck the life out of your most talented people, who won’t appreciate being babysat.

After all, if you want a flexible hybrid working model, and to leverage the benefits baked into that, you need to encourage self-determination and autonomy. That is the key to a successful hybrid environment.

In other words, don’t suffocate your team through micro-management and calling meetings for presenteeism sake. Those days are gone.

Exert less control, to feel more in control.

While high-touch leadership remains important in a hybrid working environment, micro-management can damage output and performance. In fact, it may even scare away top performers, stunt learning and growth, initiate fear of risk and innovation, and cause resentment – especially if people don’t feel trusted or respected.

Instead, try trusting your team members and… let go! Ensure they have the resources and skills to complete their tasks effectively, and make sure they feel heard and supported. Also, encourage people to speak up, because this communicates and proves that you’re an attentive leader who prioritises them.

Find a hybrid rhythm for team meetings.

Consistency creates dependability and expectation, which is essential when things are in flux. If you’re going to lead a team but you’re not seeing them face-to-face on a regular basis, it’s important that you create a psychological sense of togetherness without micro-management.

Never underestimate the importance of the rituals you’re creating and the signals you’re sending. Team meetings – huddles, cuddles, scrums, stand-ups, chats, etc. – remind individuals that they are part of a unified group striving for common goals.

Whenever deliverables are discussed, ensure that there is a status report or minutes to track and create accountability in black and white, informing the agenda for the next meeting.

When people know they have to account for their commitments in a meeting, it galvanises action. A status report, agenda, and regular meetings (only those that are required) should alleviate micro-management.

Teams need fuel to fire them up

Just like a fire needs fuel and oxygen to burn, so does your team. Your people thrive on your attention: notice them. Micro-management suffocates their flames while constructive attention fires them up. Change your words from span of control to span of attention.

Do this quick micro-management audit to see where you may be leading with control instead of attention:

Take a piece of paper, turn it landscape and fold it to create four columns, or create a table on your computer if you prefer.

Here are the headings for each column:

  • Who in my team am I micro-managing?
  • How is this playing out?
    • For me and the person involved?
    • Is it serving either of us or the business interest?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • Action: What do I need to do to pass responsibility back to them?

Outcomes of this exercise:

  • Writing down your micro-management issues will make you more self-aware. This law of awareness versus effort often results in some matters resolving themselves naturally with no intervention at all.
  • In some instances, you may need to sit with a team member and have a conversation with them. Say something like this:
    • “I find myself micro-managing you and it’s not good for either of us in the long run.”
    • “What do you think I need to stop doing to allow you to do your job?”
    • “Are there any areas where you need support that I don’t know about?”

Deskless shouldn’t mean voiceless.

As a hybrid leader, it is critical to ensure your meetings provide everyone with agency and airtime wherever they are. Moving forward in hybrid, you will be much like a TV presenter running a panel discussion, with some members in studio and others online.

Here are some tips:

  • Ask specific people for feedback at certain times of the meeting.
  • Make sure you keep a checklist of who is in the meeting (in the room and online) and tick them off once they’ve made a contribution.
  • At the end of the meeting, make sure you ask for comments, feedback or suggestions from anyone who hasn’t contributed.
  • You can use a wheel of names spinner from time-to-time to introduce an element of surprise regarding who gets to share or comment next – almost like a gameshow host.
  • Just because you’re the producer running the meeting, doesn’t mean you have to do all the work. Give team members different roles and vary who gets to do what.

Become an effective hybrid leader.

Your people want to contribute and make a difference. It’s part of human nature. So try to empower them, especially now as you transition your ways of working. Lead them, communicate with them, foster connection, and let them get on with the job.

Who am I?

I’m Nikki Bush. I help senior leaders to navigate the challenges of today’s working world. I can work top-down starting with leaders, or bottom-up starting with staff. Three key elements of a growth journey with me include keynote presentations, interactive workshops, and Nikki’s Nudges (a series of videos, podcasts and articles).

Email info@nikkibush.com to talk more about adapting to the hybrid world.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Read my blog; How to connect with your team in a Hybrid World to gain more insight.