08 Jun 2023
How High Performing Teams Can Solve the Hybrid Working Problem
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Andrew Rodgers, Principal, Leadership Practice at Odgers Berndtson, explains why this issue is challenging leadership team's mindsets.
For most countries around the world, the transition to home working was overnight. The crisis and government guidelines posed a significant leadership challenge, forcing leadership teams to make speedy decisions, and then provide support through painful changes for individuals, teams and the organisation. According to Accenture, a recent study showed that 83% of global workers preferred a hybrid work model.
The retransition to office working has been slow despite improved conditions, and leadership teams appear to be grappling with this hot topic to agree a policy for the organisation. Why?
The decision making is complicated by changing conditions and diverse expectations, perspectives and emotions coming from within the leadership team and also from outside the organisation. Questions such as 'do we mandate days in the office?' and 'how many?' are becoming befuddled with:
- dilemmas including the relocation of some employees: proving significant intangible value is being lost becomes difficult and office occupancy is not commercially beneficial; and
- unknowns such as: will normalising behaviours impact on retention; what new pains will be inflicted on employees; how inclusive is office working and does accommodating lifestyles affect commercial performance positively or negatively?
We have developed an approach to navigate such complex issues which enable the leadership team to be authentic and decide with integrity and in a timely way. Having defined the issue of determining the optimum office versus home working blend for the business, our mindset management model offers eight steps to de- and re-construct the leadership team’s mindset to determine what needs to change and deliver confident, collaborative and successful decisions.
- Steps 1-4: invites the team to understand their current mindset by acknowledging the various sources influencing thinking to determine the most important considerations, review and tune into the associated imagery, thoughts, prejudices and beliefs held, and identify and connect with the related emotions e.g. frustration, confusion, anger, doubt etc.
Having isolated and dismantled the existing elements comprising the collective mindset, a new frame of mind for the leadership team can be created that purposefully considers and constructs the components necessary to support a positive decision and outcome.
- Steps 4-8 of the mindsets management model create a clear vision for optimum hybrid working, taking account of the key considerations and components necessary to achieve success, identifies the anticipated motivational gains the new position will deliver, and addresses the challenges and obstacles to be overcome to deliver a tangible result. Having arrived at this position a well considered policy statement can be communicated to the wider stakeholder community.
Why does this approach work? Because it engages the leaders rational and emotional faculties in the discussion to address what is a deeply-invested in position for their colleagues.
Embracing emotions in decision making is challenging but it explores diverse perspectives at a significantly deeper level and delivers a clear committed and authentic position.
Whilst the resulting policy may not please all stakeholders, the decision approach and resulting communications will resonate more deeply so cultivate significant buy-in, enhance employee engagement and build trust and confidence in the calibre of the leadership team. The mindset management approach can be used extensively to dismantle deep-rooted thinking habits and establish new beliefs which drive innovation, changes in behaviours and new, transformational and sustainable growth.
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