Leading a Hybrid Nonprofit Team? These Soft Skills Are Key
It’s no secret that the way people work has changed a lot over the past few years. Before the pandemic, many nonprofit teams were entirely onsite, whether that meant sitting behind a desk or performing hands-on work out in the field. Now, some of those teams are split between homes, offices, and facilities, with many employees asking to continue working from home permanently.
Moving to a hybrid workforce model impacts the way a nonprofit operates. To lead a dispersed team successfully, managers will need to renew their focus on soft skills like communication, flexibility, and teamwork. Taking these steps can help:
When some employees are working from home and others are together in the office, the input of remote workers can get lost or ignored, and they may start to feel a sense of isolation. It’s up to managers to actively bring remote meeting attendees into the conversation and ensure they’re able to share their thoughts. The more managers model this behavior, the more natural it will become for other employees to do the same.
Being proactive and intentional about checking in with remote team members and seeing if they need anything can also go a long way. A simple message like, “Hey, I have some extra space in my schedule, can I take something off of your plate? I noticed you were busy,” lets employees know that you’re present, attentive, and focused on their needs.
Leading a hybrid team requires trust. Without it, managers may struggle to gain a clear and honest picture of how employees are doing and what they really need to thrive. And one of the best ways to establish trust is to open up about the challenges you’re facing.
This isn’t always easy. Leaders often want to convey strength and efficiency, so being vulnerable may seem counterintuitive. But by sharing things like “I’ve been feeling burned out so I plan to take some time for myself this week,” you let your team know that it’s okay for them to open up about their own struggles and ask for help when needed. Be prepared to spend more time listening than talking after mastering this soft skill.
Be willing to learn
With hybrid working being a relatively new phenomenon for many teams, there will be a lot to learn along the way. Listen to your team’s feedback and embrace adaptability rather than falling back on what you’ve always done in the past. You can also use LinkedIn Learning to enhance your communication skills as you go. Here are some courses to get started with:
Soft skills are critical
Soft skills are essential for working well with others, and that’s especially true when you lack the additional context and opportunities to connect that onsite work can provide. By cultivating these skills yourself and encouraging your team to do the same, you can build a positive hybrid work environment at your nonprofit.
This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article “How to Develop the Soft Skills Needed to Lead a Hybrid Work Team,” authored by Anne McSilver.