Leveraging technology to succeed in a hybrid world

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By Serendis

June 7, 2022

At Serendis, our passion is to create agile, mindful and inclusive leadership cultures. For many years, we were driven by the idea that disruption and change was upon us, and we wanted to support leaders to face ‘the challenges of the future’. In many ways, and even pre-covid, challenges leaders face are no longer in the future. The pace of change is now a constant and adaptive leadership is not a luxury but the only key to success.  

The covid years have fundamentally transformed the way we work and what employees expect of their workplace. It puts even more pressure on leaders to adopt a different style to engage, manage and deliver team performance. Technology is becoming central in the way leaders face these challenges. 

Here we share best practice with you.  

The Challenges: 

Breaking down team siloes 

We have long known that collaboration, knowledge sharing and effective communication within and across teams has a critical role in the success of organisations. Research from Microsoft employees in the first 6 months of the pandemic demonstrated that the shift to remote work led to increased siloes and decreased communication and connection between business groups. Conversely, those with existing strong ties to each other spent more time transferring information at the expense of time spent with weaker ties where they would likely access new information. To facilitate networks, communication and connections in organisations, we have found that Microsoft Teams has filled the many gaps that emerged from hybrid or virtual ways of working. When used effectively, it creates a virtual office where conversations can flow naturally. 

Our top tips for using Teams effectively: 

  • Ensure people understand how they can customise their notifications to be notified of important messages and not be saturated unnecessarily. 
  • Be clear on how to tag people or channels in your messages to target your communications accurately. 
  • Don’t be afraid to create a channel for informal interactions – just be conscious of how many people are in a particular group, so the chat doesn’t become overwhelming. 
  • Utilise some of the clever features to maintain your efficiency. These include saving messages to read later if you can’t action or read something immediately, pinning your most relevant teams and tailoring your notifications in a way that works for you.

Prioritising inclusive strategic time 

The buzzword of diversity and inclusion are nothing new to current leaders, but what challenges many is how we leverage diversity, and specifically cognitive diversity to achieve better outcomes. Dr Scott Page’s research explains that cognitive diversity will bring new and different ways of thinking and problem solving to an organisation, leading to faster, better or more innovative outcomes. To leverage cognitive diversity, an inclusive culture must be present. In an overly simplistic manner, this means providing everyone with a safe space in which to voice their ideas, and be heard.  

We recommend providing this opportunity through the use of Miro, a sophisticated yet easy to use online whiteboard platform. Miro easily enables everyone to contribute their ideas to generate a diversity of perspectives that can then be considered, debated, and enhanced.  

To encourage contributions from everyone, we recommend:  

  • The meeting organiser set up a meeting framework on a Miro board, focusing on the key areas of input required from the group. 
  • Allow anonymous contributions if appropriate. 
  • Utilise the data collection and voting features to understand the range of perspectives. 
  • Search the library of templates and smart meetings to design a session to wow your audience in a way that engages their imagination for maximum idea generation. 

Fostering transparency and accountability 

Teams are undoubtedly more productive and engaged when managers are transparent. Greater transparency leads to greater trust which, in turn, leads to increased engagement and long-term success. Indeed, the pandemic has created a varied experience of this within organisations and teams. To enhance greater transparency and accountability, we have found it useful to share our work deliverables and progress. We use monday.com to support us to do this. Monday.com is a Work Operating System allowing individuals and teams to create workflows, projects, processes and to do lists. It easily allows for task delegation, team collaboration, communication and timeframe accountability. 

Monday.com tips: 

  • Ensure everyone understands the importance of utilising monday.com and are committed to keeping it up to date. It only works if the data is reliable. 
  • Create boards for relevant projects, processes or team deliverables and share the board/s with the relevant people. 
  • Turn on notifications to keep up to date with progress on relevant boards. 
  • Attach files, tag people and write notes so all relevant information is always accessible in a central location, and all stakeholders and team members are clear on progress.

Succeeding in the subtle art of hybrid meetings 

A 2021 report by McKinsey found that in the post pandemic future of work, nine out of ten organisations will be combining remote with on-site work, and that for the most part, productivity has not been impacted by the shift to hybrid work.  

A critical element of this shift is ensuring that meetings are still effective and that people working remotely have the same opportunities as those working on-site. Holding regular team meetings and maintaining team cohesion is essential. We have found that Zoom is a simple and reliable tool to enable seamless and flexible meetings.  

Our best Zoom tips: 

  • Each person joins from their own device during a meeting, even if they are in the same room and we encourage cameras on, where possible. This means everyone can see each other’s facial expressions and those working remotely don’t feel distanced from a group who may be on-site together. 
  • Break-out rooms are a brilliant way to replicate in person group chats and to enhance connections in a smaller group. 
  • Experiment with the great app integrations to bring some fun and energy to your meetings where relevant. We love Heads Up!, Kahoot and Bingo!  

Providing more mentoring and coaching to people 

Mentoring and coaching have long been seen as an effective way to invest and develop people within an organisation. As millennials are set to make up the majority of the workforce by 2025, organisations need to pay close attention to their expectations. According to PwC, Millennials expect workplaces that are collaborative and creative, fun, flexible and provide continuous feedback and opportunity for growth. Put simply, millennials prefer their managers act like a coach or mentor. To cater to the needs of the millennials’ desire for feedback and growth, and to develop leaders’ coaching and mentoring skills, introducing a proven and guided mentoring program is essential. 

To implement an impactful and proven Mentoring Program, look no further than MentorKey, a new SaaS platform designed by Serendis with 15 years of deep expertise in coaching and facilitating mentoring programs. We know what it takes to deliver a mentoring program with impact. MentorKey is an easy to use yet highly effective way to administer Mentoring Programs that provides both mentees and mentors with personalised guidance on how to achieve a successful outcome that will forever enhance the careers of both parties. 

The world of technology is moving faster than we can keep up with and organisations and leaders will need to constantly innovate and iterate to remain successful. There are endless IT solutions to solve for almost anything and it can be tempting to want to try them all. In order to keep it simple and remain focused on what you need to achieve, be sure to identify the gap or challenge you need to solve for and seek the right technology to support you from there.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Serendis consulting options to support your people strategy, or would like to know more about MentorKey, please click here.