Hybrid Work Environments: How to Lead in a New World

September 3, 2021

Written by Debbie Aarons

Senior HR & Leadership Development Consultant

It’s September, the start of the new school year and back to work is looking a little different than usual. Over the past 18 months we have seen leaders adapt their styles to manage remote teams. Now as we enter another phase, leaders are asking how do I lead in a hybrid work environment, what do I need to focus on to be an amazing leader in this new world of work?


To make things simple, let’s focus on the 4 Cs of leadership: Context, Connection, Communication and Coaching.


As a leader you have access to more information than your team and by providing context you can support team members in understanding how their work adds value to overall goals of the organization. You can help them to see the connections between what they are working on, the priorities of your business, the needs of your customers and the work that other departments and teams are doing. Effective leaders are consistently setting context and helping team members to connect the dots.


Which brings us to connection. Connection in a hybrid work environment may look different than in a remote or in-person work environment but it is just as important. We know that having a sense of belonging and a feeling of connection to our work, our manager and our team is crucial for employee engagement


Here are three areas to focus on in a hybrid work environment:

  1. Be intentional about how you connect with your team both 1-on-1 and as a group.

  2. Schedule regular check-ins and make sure that you check in (on how people are doing) before you check up (on the work that they are doing).

  3. Find ways to bring the team together, build trust and better understand and appreciate each other. 

“Seek First to Understand and then be Understood”
Stephen Covey

Great leaders are awesome communicators – they listen to understand. As a leader, you communicate all the time but what training have you had in how to be an effective listener? Open listening is tough, it requires you to put aside your preconceived thoughts and truly understand the other person’s perspective. Understanding your own level of emotional intelligence can help you to better understand yourself and others so that you can manage emotions and lead through challenging situations.

Coaching can have a profound impact on enabling others to achieve results and maximize their impact. As a leader your success is dependent on the success of your team and developing your skill as a coach will improve your team’s performance. Managing in a hybrid world forces you to empower your team members, to trust them as capable, to focus on results and to coach them so that they can maximize their potential and achieve amazing results.


At Vertical Bridge HR, training leaders is what we do! We’d love to understand more about the specific needs of your business so that we can create a customized approach to develop your leaders and take your business to the next level. We can support you with practical solutions to help you to navigate the hybrid world of work.

About the Author

Debbie is a creative and energetic human resources and organizational development professional with a Masters in Human Resource Management and over twenty years’ experience gained in the UK and Canada. Debbie is committed to establishing leadership for organizations to maximize their talent and potential.

Debbie has worked with organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Taking a collaborative approach to consulting, she has partnered with leaders to design and implement innovative programs and practices that bring out the best in their employees. Debbie is an engaging and effective facilitator and communicator and a certified emotional intelligence coach.

Whether designing performance management systems or facilitating employee development programs, developing leadership development workshops or implementing succession planning practices, Debbie demonstrates an unique ability to respond to the specific needs of each organization and situation to enhance the employee experience and help create great places to work.

Prior to moving to Vancouver in 2000, Debbie worked in London, UK.  She now lives in Steveston, BC with her husband and two children. Debbie is passionate about contributing to the local community through volunteer work and community building activities. She has served as director and president of not-for-profit societies and seeks opportunities to bridge her deep human resource expertise with her desire to make a difference in the communities in which we live and work.

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