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017. The Secret to Leading Hybrid Teams: Emotional Intelligence

In this episode, we’re going to talk about how we can make hybrid teams work by tuning into our emotional intelligence. Now more than ever, is it going to be important to focus on the human connection. To really focus on powerful relationships and on the wellbeing of our employees.
By now we all have come to the conclusion that our way of working has changed and potentially has changed forever. There’s going to be some mix of working from home and working in the office.

So, how can we make this work? There’s a real challenge now for leaders and managers to start to look at: how can I, as a leader, support my team remotely, but also support my team when there are some people in the office and some are working from home, how can I build the connection? How can I understand my team better?

Today, we’re going to talk about how to answer those questions.

In this episode, I talk all about:

  • The logistical and practical challenges of managing a hybrid team
  • Tips to supporting your team members both in person and remotely
  • Three key strategies to communicating with your hybrid team and boosting human connection
  • And tuning into the emotional intelligence of ourselves and our team members

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In this episode, we’re going to talk about how we can make hybrid teams work by tuning into our emotional intelligence. Now more than ever, is it going to be important to focus on the human connection. To really focus on powerful relationships and on the wellbeing of our employees.

And if you’re listening to this episode, right when it’s released on the 7th of February, then I want to invite you to my free master class on how to become a confident leader in a hybrid workplace. This master class is going to take place on the 17th of February at 12:00 PM, Australian Eastern Daylight Time.

And we’re going to cover all the competencies that will have the biggest impact on your leadership in a hybrid workplace. And it’s all going to be for free. So join under to be part of this free master class. I can’t wait to see you there.

Hi, welcome back to the Lead Like You podcast, where I empower courageous and emerging leaders to lead with authenticity, emotional intelligence and their strength. Today, we’re going to talk about how we can support hybrid teams.

How we can make it work in this new way of working that we all going to have to adapt to in one way or another.

So as I record this it’s January 2022. And by now we all have come to the conclusion that our way of working has changed and potentially has changed forever. Some of you might have returned to your office and then you may have had to go back to working from home.

Some companies already introduced a hybrid model which means that some people might be in the office somedays, some people might be working from home and everybody is going to meet occasionally together as a team. And a lot of work might still stay virtual.

There’s got to be some mix of working from home and working in the office. And a research done by Microsoft has actually found that 70% of employees would enjoy working from home and having more flexibility, but they would still enjoy the occasional face-to-face connection with their team members.

So, how can we make this work? There’s a real challenge now for leaders and managers to start to look at how can we, how can I, as a leader, support my team remotely, but also support my team when there are some people in the office and some are working from home, how can I build the connection? How can I understand my team better?

How can I motivate and inspire them? How can I manage performance, and really connect with my team members.

So there are many logistical and emotional challenges for leaders at the moment. As we transition into this new way of working. And it’s also quite difficult because you, as a leader, you might feel quite tired and fatigued yourself. These past two years have had so much change and uncertainty, so much back and forth so much for you also emotionally to handle.

And then at the same time, while you have to manage yourself, you also have to manage and motivate your team, and you’re still responsible for the performance of your team. So there’s a lot of pressure on leaders right now, and a lot of adaptability that is required.

So in this episode, we don’t really want to focus too much on logistical challenges, but of course you can imagine that there are lots of challenges logistically, where we have to look at, okay, what are the timeframes that people come to the office? How many days, what are the hours? When are we meeting as a team online and in person, how are we managing flexible working time.

What are the tools and resources that we using? How do we do our meetings? What’s our meeting etiquette? When we have people in the room and people online, and some of you might have already participated in meetings where we had some employees in the office dialing in, maybe from a conference room and some employees on their laptops from home.

And the key challenge here is right away clear, the people in the office, they can have chit-chat, they can have discussions amongst themselves and for the people on the screens, it’s really hard to break into that discussion. They’re going to miss out on a few things. They’re going to miss out on the chit-chat and they’re also might not really feel like they’re part of the discussion.

So there’s lots of challenges logistically that an organization and a team has to work out.

And as we transition into this, I’m supporting my clients on a one-on-one basis or in my new Lead Like You group coaching program. I support them in these challenges to really build their confidence and their strategies, to communicate more effectively, to manage these changes and to connect on a real deep level.

And if you’re interested to check out the group program, then go to, and you will see all about the program and how you can join we are kicking off at the start of March. But today I want to give you some really useful tips that you can implement straight away to support your team and yourself as a leader in these times.

So just quickly, when we look at these logistical components and logistical challenges. We need to make sure that we have clear guidelines in place that we communicate very clearly and make it very explicit as to what is expected.

Where are the things that are standardized for everyone? Where are the guidelines and rules and what are the components that employees can now choose in their own way and be flexible about it. So, what is your standard about coming to the office? How many days per week? How many meetings do you have face-to-face and online? What kind of meetings are you doing? Are you going to do cameras off for certain meetings, cameras on for other meetings? Are you going to do phone meetings to avoid the zoom fatigue, for example.

What are the guidelines around your meeting culture and how often do you meet face-to-face versus virtually?

What are the rules for in meetings, when you have a hybrid team, people in the office and dialing in from home? Do you make it a rule that everyone has to be at their own laptops? So that it’s a fair playing field for everyone. Everyone is connected. Everyone is part of the discussion. Everyone can read everybody’s facial expression and connection.

So that’s a really important thing to think about to actually, instead of having a group of people in a meeting room, you can still have them in a meeting room, but each on their own laptop.

Then you have to define maybe certain co-working hours. So everybody has to be online, then have some flexibility around it. Some people might like to start earlier. Some people like to work later to make it work with a family lives as well. Sorry, what are you guidelines around that?

You might have to adapt your office layout. A lot of companies have already changed the layout to maybe have more space for meetings because now the time that they come to the office, it’s more about coming together as a team, rather than working on your laptop on your desk, by yourself, because you could do that by yourself at home.

So do you need to change the office environment to support your teams?

Don’t forget things like celebrations, lunch, perks that you offer. If you offer them for people in the office, you have to offer these as well for the peoples that are dialing in online that are working remotely because it has to be fair. If you can’t make it fair, don’t do it, because you don’t want to disadvantage the people that are working remotely and are not connecting in the office.

Make sure you have tools and systems in place. Make sure you have one central cloud-based storage for all the documents. So everyone has access and can see the progress. Nobody feels left out.

Have clear reporting structures. How often do we report on KPIs? What are our measurements? What are our expectations on performance? We really clear about that and repeat yourself regularly so that everybody knows what is expected. So clear communication about the process of reporting, the meeting processes, the meeting structure, the working times, the flexible times, what is your guide and what’s your policy make that really clear and explicit.

But today I do want to focus on the emotional component and the component of managing people in these times and managing hybrid teams. Some people might thrive in this environment. Some people might enjoy working from home. Some people really crave being back in the office. Some people enjoy the hybrid world. Everybody’s going to be different.

There are a lot of challenges for individuals. There’s blurred lines between your personal life and your professional life. When do you log off from work when you’re at home, how do you make sure that you feel accomplished at the end of the day? How do you make sure that your team members feel like I can make the decision now that I’m done, and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

There’s a lot of uncertainty, constant change in the office, out of the office, lockdowns. There’s a lot that’s happening and it’s going to continue to happen. So how do you manage that uncertainty and that change? How do you support your employees through that time.

There could be conflict that comes up because people are not necessarily meeting in person or maybe there are groups that are forming in the office. So how do you manage conflicts? How do you motivate, how do you inspire? How do you set goals? How do you keep them moving forward as a team? How do you build that unity, that trust?

How do you make sure that they feel like they belong?

How do you build connection? How do you build relationships? How do you provide feedback? These are all challenges that are about human connection and human relationships. And that’s where it’s really important that we tune into our emotional intelligence.

Communication and listening has become much harder when we moved into remote work, but it’s also going to be again challenging when we start to move into a hybrid environment. You will have some people that can, that catch up regularly in the office.

You will have some people at home. How do you make sure everybody feels connected? Everybody communicates regularly? How do you make sure that people are part of informal conversations, even if they’re not in the office? So it’s really not an easy process and therefore to really build that connection and to communicate better and more effectively, and to be able to adapt to how are we communicating? Who are we communicating to? It’s really important that we tune into our emotional intelligence.

We have to build psychological safety and trust for our team members. We have to make sure that they feel like they’re part of something bigger. They’re part of shared purpose, and they feel like they belong. We’ve heard it a lot that now some people have started to quit their jobs, look for something else because suddenly when we had more time to be at home, to be with our families, we start to look for the bigger purpose instead of just driving to work every day, commuting and just doing it for the sake of it.

People really now want to feel like their work is of purpose, that they’re doing something for the greater good or that they’re doing something that somehow has meaning. So you have to make sure that your team feels like they are connected to purpose.

So in other words, emotion intelligence is keen out to make this work for your team as a leader, and to really make this a success.

So let’s start by looking at what is emotional intelligence, and emotional intelligence is the ability to connect and understand your own emotions. And then also from there, start to understand how your emotions and your triggers have an impact on your thinking, your behavior and your actions. And there is a certain part of self regulation and emotional intelligence that allows us to make sure that whenever we have an emotional reaction, we can self-regulate.

So that this emotion, this reaction does not have an impact of how we behave and what we do in our communication to other people. And then the other part about emotional intelligence is the empathy, the human connection, the relationship building skills. So how can we tune into our other people are feeling, how do we tune in to understanding where they’re coming from and how we can motivate them and how we can build this real vulnerable trustful connection.

Three emotional intelligence, competencies, and skills that I do want to talk about today because they are quite important and beneficial for you to connect with your hybrid teams. So the first one is self-awareness it’s internal and external self-awareness. It’s first the understanding of who you are, what are your emotional triggers? What are your emotional reactions? What are the things that come easy to you? How do you feel on a regular basis? The ability to check in with yourself, what you stand for? What are your values? What are your strengths? And then there’s external self-awareness. It’s about how are you perceived by others? Does that align? Does your view of yourself align with how you’re seen by others? What are you putting out there? How are you acting and interacting? How are you making the other people feel? Then a big part is the self-regulation. As I described before, it’s about managing your own emotional reactions, managing your motivation, your inspiration, setting yourself goals, but also regulating your emotions in the moment to make sure that you can stay in a neutral state when it is required to be there for your employees, to be the support that they need.

And lastly, it’s the empathy and the social awareness. What’s going on for my team? What’s happening? What are the connections here? Where are the areas of conflict? Where are the good relationships? Where is maybe a little bit of lack of trust? Where am I sensing that someone is not feeling well?

So it’s this ability to tune into what’s going on around you.

And that’s much harder now because when you’re in a room with people, you will just accidentally see and get a feeling for what’s going on, you might hear certain things. You might see how somebody is moving and acting and reacting. Maybe they’re coming late several times a week and you can check in what’s going on for them, but in a hybrid world.

Times are blurring, flexibility, work. Some people are remotely, some people are in the office. So you can’t rely on that. You really need to be intentional in tuning in. So how can we do that?

Here’s seven points I want to make. Number one is about regularly checking in with yourself, using your self-awareness and self regulation to see how am I feeling right now? Do I feel motivated? Do I feel inspired? How have I shown up in the meetings today? Have I put myself out there the way I want to? Have I made the people feel the way I wanted them to feel? Have I really interacted as my best self in this conversation? Or is there something going on for myself? Wellbeing, what can I do for myself to support myself? What do I need right now? Who can I talk to? What can I do for myself? So regularly, really checking in because to manage a team in these certain circumstances, you need to be really self-aware of how are you coming across when you’re in front of a camera, when you’re in the room, how are you positioning yourself?

It’s really important, especially in a camera when you work remotely that you pay extra attention to your body language, because you have less room to work with. You can only work with your upper body, your face, your hands, you can’t work with the rest of your body.

You can work with your voice. Yeah. What’s the tone of your voice? So more than ever, you have to be very intentional about how you show up and how you position yourself. Point number two is about regularly checking in with your team members. Finding a way to see what they prefer. What’s their preferred way of checking in virtually or in person via video conference over the phone, once a week or maybe every two weeks, but I would suggest not to make it less than every two weeks because the regular one-on-one check-ins are so important to build that trust, to build that relationship, to really build that connection so that you are on top of it, that you are sensing when things are changing.

And when we were all back in the office, this might’ve happened accidentally. You might have been able to catch up with your employees at the coffee machine, or you walked up to the cubicle in the morning and had a quick check-in that obviously is now taken away and you might sometimes have it in the office and sometimes not. So it’s really becoming aware of, have I checked in with this person lately? And if not, how can I check in on make it a regular thing? If you make this a regular meeting, it also doesn’t become awkward. If you set the stage, if you set the expectation that we’re sharing, I’m sharing from me, you’re sharing from you.

We are checking in and I mean, it, I’m genuine in my approach. You can build that trust and that relationship and they will open up to you.

Point number three is when you check in really, truly listen, tuning in more than ever, looking at their facial expression, looking at their body movement are they’re shifting forward. Shifting back. Are they looking down? Are they looking up? It’s not so much to see where they’re looking. It’s just, is there a change of eye contact?

Is there a change in the tone of their voice? All of these could be little hints that the topic they’re talking about is something they’re emotionally engaged in or emotionally connected. Maybe they’re upset, so you can tune in a bit more so important to truly, truly listen beyond just the words. And you will practice that and you will get better at that, but it’s important, be intentional.

So here is important that you have your self-awareness so that you can tune out everything that’s going on for you be neutral, breathe, be there, be really intentionally listening. Don’t think about what you got to do next, all the pressure that you’re under, all the stress or the worries that you have, you have to practice to let that go to be really mindful of who you’re talking to.

And then really, truly listening.

Number four is a really big point about communicating regularly and intentionally, and really, really clearly, and make everything explicit. It’s so important that, you are absolutely transparent about goals, expectations, performance expectations that you might have. What does good look like? What does done look like? How are you expecting things to work? Where are things that are important for you or for the company? Connected to the goals of the company? Are the goals changing? Because the environment is changing communicate regularly because again, You now have to do it always in a formal setting and by formal setting I mean, it has to be a meeting that is organized because you can’t just walk up to a cubicle. How do you make sure that everyone knows about the message? Because this is one thing that becomes very tricky in hybrid teams. Don’t forget that if you are in the office with some people and you’ve had a quick chat or a quick discussion in the kitchen about a certain point, the other people have not heard it.

The people that are working from home. Make sure that you take note of what discussions you had, to then fill in the other people at a later stage, because otherwise they will feel left out. They will feel like decisions haven’t been made without them. So make sure that you really pay attention to what you’re talking about with whom and in which environment, and then make sure you fill in the rest.

So Everything is transparent because you gotta make sure everyone feels connected to the team So regular communication, be really clear about what you’re communicating and why you’re communicating it. And then how are you communicating it?

There’s big importance about regular feedback now. Because again, it’s really important to make sure that we are on track. We all know what we’re working towards too, because we don’t have these informal communication channels. So make sure you give regular feedback and build up a culture of regular feedback where that is okay.

Where that is expected, where that is normal. So make sure you give feedback regularly and build up a culture of regular feedback, both ways, ask for feedback, invite feedback, and provide feedback, positive feedback. When you see someone working in their strength and also constructive feedback, when you feel like they could do something even better or differently.

And prepare for your conversations. In person conversations we can sometimes make up for stuff or react really quickly because we can see or sense a change in how the other person is feeling. And then we can kind of make up for it. We can apologize if we said something. Remotely it’s much harder. So you got to really prepare critical conversations, be clear on what you want to say, why you want to say it and how you want to say it.

Take time to think about that so that you can be really intentional in the way you communicate it.

Point number five is show vulnerability. Really open up about how you are feeling, you don’t have to show and say everything that there is to say about your personal life, but think about when can you share how you struggled or when you’re not sure about it, even working on the process of how the hybrid team can work, do that together.

Say I’m not quite sure what do you need? this is what I prefer. This is how I feel in these situations. So be open and invite them to also be open when you’re vulnerable. When you’re showing that you’re trusting them, then they will start to trust you in return. But you have to start as the leader, you have to give a little to then be given trust back.

So it’s not easy for people to admit if they’re having a hard time. And if you do that first, then it’s also a little bit easier for them.

Number six. The point number six I want to make is to really look at how can you build the common purpose and the feeling of belonging for your team? What exercises can you do maybe at the start of the year to look at what are the goals and the common purpose of this team? What are the values? What do we stand for at the team?

And how can we make sure that we reconnect to that purpose on a regular basis throughout the year? How can we make sure everyone knows what part they play. If you’ve done strengths development with your team, make sure that you know, how each strength plays a part in fulfilling that purpose. What is the contribution?

Every single person makes based on their uniqueness and their unique strength. It’s really important to spend some time on that. Look at team development, team days, bring the team together in person for these special days to look at what’s the purpose here? How are we connected to this? What’s our big why as a team. And point number seven is also invest in the development of the emotional intelligence of your team members. If you help them and get them trained or coached in their own self-awareness, their connection to their emotions, to how they’re feeling, then it will be much easier for them to put into words how they’re feeling when you ask them in your check-in.

Cause some people might not be used to talking about that. Some people really have a hard time describing how they’re feeling or understanding what triggered them, maybe. So look at what are investment development options that you have. How can you help your team members to build their emotional intelligence?

I do this quite regularly with teams where we work on emotion intelligence for teams. We look at the strength of the team members and we really focused on developing their own understanding their confidence of who they are, what they bring to the team, their contribution, and how they can build their emotional intelligence skills based on their unique strength.

And that way you really give them the competencies to manage themselves better, to build their resilience, when things are a little bit tough, but more importantly, you build their abilities to tune into themselves and tune into the team which will build better relationships for the whole team.

When your employees have high self-awareness, high emotion intelligence, they’re also better connected to what motivates them. They know what inspires them and how they need, how they can get that. So they can communicate that better with you and together you can work on that. So look at investing in your teams, investing and spending time together, for team days, being together, do something fun together, do something really strategic and goal planning together. So everyone feels part of the big teams and goals. Do some training, some development, invest in your team.

So all of these you can do with your emotion intelligence, tune into your awareness, your social awareness, your empathy, make sure you know how you can manage yourself really well, regulate your emotions, understand your reactions, and then start to connect on a deeper level. The most important thing right now is human skills. Human connection. It’s about being able to connect and build trust. That’s how you will get a high performing team with people that feel well, people that are motivated and people that are ready to start this year, really powerfully. If you’re interested to build your emotion intelligence, I do have a guide, a free guide of twenty ways to improve your emotional intelligence, right now.

I will link to the guide in the show notes. So make sure you check that out.

And if you feel like you would love some support, some more support and personalized support, understanding your strength and your emotional intelligence competencies to lead in this world and to be ready and confident as a leader to trust your own abilities to trust the way you show up in these times, then maybe check out my 12 week Lead Like You group coaching program, we’re starting at the start of March and you can find more information under, I would be thrilled to work with you. Thank you so much for listening. And I’m looking forward to speaking to you soon.