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Tips for management in the new generation of hybrid and remote work with Brandy Ferrer of Pathfinder Strategies

Brandy Ferrer and her team at Pathfinder Strategies have been helping organizations navigate good management practices in the digital landscape and shared the top three common difficulties they have encountered.  

Brandy Ferrer, Pathfinder Strategies
Image courtesy Brandy Ferrer
Image courtesy Brandy Ferrer

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Over the last decade, businesses had been working on moving to more remote work-friendly structures, but when the pandemic hit, many were forced to find solutions faster than expected. Some companies adapted easily, while others have been left behind in the dust, anxious for the day employees return to the office full-time.   

The only problem with this plan is that many employees like the flexibility of working from home or hybrid working, making it harder for businesses that prefer the in-person work model to find and retain employees. Brandy Ferrer and her team at Pathfinder Strategies have been helping organizations navigate good management practices in the digital landscape and shared the top three common difficulties they have encountered.  

The Transition from In-Person to Remote Management

Brandy said, “one of the most common challenges in managing remote or hybrid teams is that there’s substantially less management by visualization.” Managers are unable to walk around the office, chat with people about their work and see what is being done at their desks. 

As a result, “managers have to be much clearer about responsibilities and expectations, and communication has to be more intentional,” explained Brandy. “Expectations conversations should happen regularly — every time there’s a new goal, an additional task, a process update. These are two-way conversations between the manager and the team member (or the manager and the team). Team meetings and one-to-one meetings are perfect opportunities for expectation setting and adjusting.” Brandy noted. Pathfinder Strategies understands that this transition can be difficult for both managers and team members. The group offers consultation and training on successfully transitioning to remote and hybrid management. 

Office Relationship Dynamics

Another aspect of remote work that leaves many people wondering is the development of trust and relationships between all levels of employees. Brandy commented, “now that we’re working remotely, those little trust-building moments that we used to have with each other, for example, we could sit together, and I could look you in the eye across the conference table. Or if you told me, you were going to send me a report, and you forgot. I could just pop by your office and be like, hey, don’t forget to send that report. Those little moments of trust-building no longer exist in the same way.”

In today’s world, communication among the team is more important than ever to build a supportive culture. Teams that prioritize connection enjoy stronger relationships which are good for the well-being of the team and improve the team’s confidence in one another. These teams perform at a higher level and are better positioned to drive innovation.   

We know those organic “water-cooler” moments as we once knew them are gone and have been replaced by endless instant messages and zoom meetings. So what can be done to build supportive connected cultures in a remote or hybrid environment?  Brandy shared a few suggestions; “Start where you are. If your team is already meeting once a week, build in a few minutes to do a check-in or talk about one great thing that is happening in each person’s lives outside of work.” Brandy also mentioned that “many of us have become transactional in our working relationships because we’re so busy and because digital communication lends itself to that.” Brandy cautions managers to avoid the transactional approach and dig deeper. “Get beyond, ‘How are you? I’m fine too” and invite more meaningful conversation.” 

Managers can encourage team members to connect with one another outside of scheduled team meetings. Rotating 20 minute one-to-one meetings, “walking” virtual meetings and virtual coffee chats are all ways to accomplish this goal. 

“Remember,” Brandy said, “the time spent on these activities is an investment in your relationships which benefits you, your team and your company.”

Adaptability and Prioritization 

Adaptability has always been an important aspect of management because even the best laid plans can go sideways. But Brandy shared that adaptability is more important today than ever before because of changing business and labor pool dynamics. 

One of the critical enablers of adaptability is to prioritize effectively. You might have 17 major tasks for the month, but how do you prioritize them so things run smoothly and employees remain happy? As Brandy says, “if you have 17 priorities, you really have no priorities.” Pathfinder Strategies suggests assessing the biggest underlying issues and formulating an execution plan around that, and setting the expectation that things may change. Doing this will enable managers and teams to work towards outstanding goals rather than focusing on putting fires out day to day.

About Pathfinder Strategies

Pathfinder Strategies helps businesses navigate the ever-changing human side of the business environment. Their coaching, consulting and workshops have helped numerous companies improve performance, retain employees, save time, achieve their goals and realize a future of success. Download their eBook, “10 Proven Strategies for Keeping Your Best Employees,” to begin learning ways to improve workplace culture and keep employees happy. You can also contact them for a free consultation about how to handle difficult situations managers are experiencing today.

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Written By

George Nellist is a public relations, marketing and strategic brand expert who has executed social media and strategic marketing campaigns for a variety of Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. For more information, visit Ascend Agency.

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