TRUST & ENGAGEMENT: The Keys to Successful Hybrid and Remote Teams

High-performing teams have a high level of good trust. Fostering a culture of trust is not just a goal—it's a STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE for success in the modern era. In today's high-tech world, it would be easy to assume that people are well-connected. What challenges this assumption is the reality that while the tools are available, many people don't know how to use them, and when they do, they are not using them in similar enough ways to be truly connected. Trust and Engagement are vital components of maintaining connection and promoting collaboration. Remember, trust builds engagement.

Successful Hybrid and Remote Teams

Before the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, working remotely in the tech and sales fields had been in operation for decades. During and after the Global Pandemic, many other fields have embraced remote work. This embrace has meant dynamic changes that often feel like building a plane while flying it. Two things that are evident in the level of success, especially for small businesses are Trust and Engagement

Scenario

In the mid-2000s, an HR specialist pitched the idea of going to a hybrid model, especially during times when they needed to concentrate on a project without interruption and the closed-door solution wasn’t working. At that time, the department’s Director had the mindset of having to see everyone at work in order to manage them. Otherwise, how could they trust that everyone was working?  The HR specialist’s response: “Just because you don’t see me doesn’t mean I’m not working.” This specialist went on to earn a JD, and a PhD. Their strong, reliable work ethic, along with the work ethics of most of that workforce was already intact.

Why didn’t the HR Director trust that their company’s hiring practice and work culture were strong enough to have trust in their workforce? Well, for industries that could have made the hybrid/fully remote shift but didn’t, the Global Pandemic forced them into it.  Now, organizations have to build, embrace, and support trusting their workforce.

Trust

TRUST. High-performing teams have a high level of good trust. Good Trust means trust in the company, each member of the team, suppliers, and all. People need to be able to rely on the company, and each person within the company to have a high level of integrity. Meaning “Do what you say you’re going to do within the timeframe you say you will do it.” It also means that if you make a mistake, you take responsibility for it and do all that you can do to communicate and make it right with your team, the customer, and so forth. This also means that the company has a culture that implicitly and explicitly demonstrates that if you make a mistake, it will not be held against you beyond the incident. Next is communication that is thorough and faceted enough to reach everyone on the team. In those communications, the team knows what the communication plan is, there are multiple entry points, and everyone feels heard and valued. Ultimately, trust is the foundation of strong relationships and effective teamwork. It enables individuals to collaborate, take risks, and innovate without fear of judgment or reprisal. As organizations navigate the complexities of remote work and evolving workplace dynamics, fostering a culture of trust is not just a goal—it’s a strategic imperative for success in the modern era.

Engagement

In today’s hybrid and remote workforce, maintaining connection and promoting collaboration goes a long way to supporting healthy engagement, which supports ongoing trust. Remember, trust builds engagement.

Maintaining Connection

In today’s high-tech world, it would be easy to assume that people are well-connected. What challenges this assumption is the reality that while the tools are available, many people don’t know how to use them, and when they do, we are not using them in similar enough ways to be truly connected.

In hybrid and remote settings, employees may become isolated or disconnected from their colleagues. Remember that with multiple generations on work teams, their experience and expectations of connection may be drastically different from one another. Add to that the reality of different personality, behavior, learning, and communication styles, and the level of complexity gets exponentially greater.

Engaging employees through regular communication, team-building activities, and regularly scheduled virtual meetings that are meaningful for each member and highly productive helps maintain a sense of connection and belonging.

Promoting Collaboration

Collaboration Enhances Productivity: Collaboration encourages employees to work together towards common goals, share ideas, and solve problems collectively. In a hybrid or remote workforce, effective collaboration tools and practices facilitate seamless communication and teamwork, leading to increased productivity and innovation.

Collaboration has a significant effect on preventing work silos. A work silo, also known as a “silo mentality,” refers to a situation within an organization where different departments or teams operate in isolation from one another. In this scenario, there is little to no sharing of information, resources, or goals between departments, leading to inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, and a lack of collaboration. People in work silos want to be engaged, they just don’t know how. (I’ll expand on this topic in an upcoming blog post.)

Here are 2 things that leaders can do to maintain connection and promote collaboration within and among hybrid and remote teams:

Facilitate Regular Virtual Meetings and Check-Ins

Keep in mind that in the era of TikTok, Instagram, and text messaging, people have developed shorter attention spans. When it comes to virtual meetings, and in-person meetings for that matter, brevity and meaning are golden! This means that before scheduling a meeting, leaders must invest more time in planning the Agenda, invitation list, and interactions for that meeting. It also means that you might work to make the most meaningful meeting happen in the shortest amount of time. Be thoughtful. Be concise. Make sure every person who is invited to this meeting knows their role in the meeting. They need to know why they are going to be there. If consistently done, regular virtual meetings and check-ins will bolster trust and have a positive impact on engagement.

Utilize Collaborative Tools and Platforms

For the most part, collaborative tools and platforms are abundant and accessible.  Many companies provide access to collaborative tools and platforms that enable seamless communication and project management. Here are some well-known platforms that facilitate real-time communication, file sharing, and project collaboration like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom (note that I am not endorsing any of the platforms, just informing you that they are out there). Make sure that everyone knows how to use these tools at a level that helps them to be efficient and effective. Encourage team members to utilize these tools for sharing ideas, providing feedback, and collaborating on tasks, regardless of their physical location.

By implementing these strategies, leaders can help hybrid and remote teams stay connected, foster collaboration, and ultimately achieve their collective goals more effectively.

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