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The hybrid worklife

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A virtual or hybrid working life requires a higher degree of personal commitment to your own well-being. We can be hybrid competent. When you are hybrid competent, you are (among other things): Proactive – which meaning gets access to information and good at building and maintaining trust and relationships and therefore also is better at it virtually.

Whether you work physically, virtually or hybrid, personal energy determines how well you thrive, perform, collaborate, lead and how efficient you are. In my coaching practice, I find that some people are better at keeping a responsible personal energy level than others. It is often quite unsaid, but there is almost an expectation that if you are to be found in a higher management level, you have to master how to keep a high personal energy level (we can discuss the fairness, but it is the reality many face). Hence, in this article you get a brief introduction to what it means to work with your personal energy in your work life and why it is extra important when working virtually or hybrid.

Would you prefer reading this article in danish? Then follow this link.

Personal energy in the hybrid or remote workplace

It can be difficult to keep the energy up behind the screen. A virtual or hybrid working life requires a higher degree of personal commitment to your own well-being. Even if you have a manager who does an effort to know how the employees feel – it’s just harder to sense through a screen or when someone from the team is home while others are in the office.

An article from Harvard Business Review states that we can be hybrid competent. Hence that, they point that in addition, to a shift in power which the manager should be aware of equalizing, some employees are more hybrid competent than others and therefore better can manage working from home. When you are hybrid competent, you are (among other things):

                  • Proactive – which meaning gets access to information
                  • Good at building and maintaining trust and relationships and therefore also is better at it virtually.

This article is about how to collaborate remotely, and thrive better working from home. Henrik and Caroline are fictive people. Their names and circumstances have been anonymized and changed.

Henrik is Technical Project Manager in a team of five. So he’s an informal leader. He depends on the others doing their job. Because he is responsible for the deliveries and the project. But he doesn’t have hire/fire responsibilities.

Usually, the collaboration with Caroline is fine, but for the last two months Henrik has started doing Caroline’s work instead of delegating it as he should as a project manager. But he doesn’t feel like he can count on her anymore. It’s easier to do it yourself – “and then we also avoid unpleasant mistakes like the one she made to the steering committee”: he told me in a session. Henrik has also stopped talking to Caroline like he used to. Now, working from home, it is easy to avoid her. But they still have the regular project meetings. One day it became too much for Henrik.

Henrik’s challenge

Henrik has a challenge. Before the pandemic he was part of a team of five where they were very effective and had a really good time together. Although Henrik is not very talkative and actually thrives on workdays at home, he now waits for the Corona pandemic to be over so everything can get back to normal. The collaboration with his colleague Caroline has gone off track, and this has major consequences for the project, the team and Henrik:

  • They have lost their commitment.
  • They don’t get much done in the project.
  • Their funding is at risk due to a mistake that Caroline has made – at least if you ask Henrik.
  • Neither Henrik nor Caroline thrives – and the others in the team can feel it too.
These days, there are many managers with anxiety, and as a leader you will most likely have to deal with anxiety in some way – yours or others. In my profession as an Executive Coach, I talk with highly competent and resourceful executives around the world about their challenges, problems, and objectives in life and in work. One question that is being discussed in many of my virtual coaching sessions these days is, how one is dealing with anxiety as a leader. My clients are executives in multinational corporations. Some of them are anxious for their families, companies, and countries. Actually, often they themselves are in a quite good position, but because they have a wider responsibility what used to be the normal pressure can become extra intense in times of crisis.

Would you prefer reading the article in Danish? Then you can read it here.

In times of uncertainty and change, what is good leadership differs from how to lead routine work in steady conditions. The first step is to understand how the difference between technical and adaptive challenges. Because it is in the very problem definition phase that a leader goes wrong.

Is it a technical or an adaptive challenge? Why people sometimes get it wrong to identify challenges and solutions in times of change and uncertainty.

As an Executive Coach, I get to work with some brilliant people. These people are leaders in multinational corporations. Most of them have very strong technical skills, which made them successful and brought them to the leadership position that they are in now. In this regard, despite their unique personalities and trait, I believe they are rather representative of most executives.

Are you more interested in reading in Danish? Then you can find the article here.

Closing the gaps?

For many leaders, minimising risk and uncertainty is imperative, or at least, is at the core of leadership. Sometimes the solution involves hiring consultants that can provide a detailed step-by-step process with the objective of closing the gaps. But this doesn’t always work, especially not now. No one really knows where things are going in these times of great uncertainty and it can be rather unproductive to take a technical approach to something that is really an adaptive challenge.   

The hardest thing is not to learn new ways, but to unlearn what used to be the right thing to do.

Is your challenge technical or adaptive?

There is a difference between technical and adaptive challenges. It’s really important to understand how these differ to lead in uncertainty, solve the challenges, and be agile.

Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky, researchers at Harvard University, identified two types of challenges in change: adaptive and technical challenges.