Mentoring Teams in a Hybrid Environment

Effective mentoring has never been more vital. We are experiencing an unprecedented level of change and disruption in today’s workforce, and the norms we have operated by are in flux in virtually every facet of our lives and careers. Understanding power styles, and how they change in different environments, can help mentors when part of their workforce is operating from home, some are coming back into the office and still others are doing a little bit of both.

My research on power styles, and my book, Power Genes, are based on a simple premise: power is relational.  A person’s power style is reflected in their relationship with themselves, how they interact with others and the way they relate within their organization’s culture.

The emotional triggers and behavioral responses that form the foundation of any employee’s signature power style is rooted in the ways they were conditioned to respond to the first authority figures they encountered in life – the caregivers in their family system.

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For example, the norms that people experience in the family system impact the way employees deal with conflict on the job. People who were conditioned to keep the peace in their early family systems often become conflict avoiders on the job who hide in plain sight during contentions meetings. In contrast, people who were raised in families where conflict was considered a form of healthy competition, may share their opinions with dramatic flair both in their emails and in the conversations they have with their colleagues. Neither power style is innately good or bad, and both stem from the emotional and behavioral norms they internalized early in life.

What’s vital to bear in mind as we mentor teams in a hybrid environment is that, in many cases, the power style employees display on the job isn’t always the same as the one they operate from in their personal lives. Some employees who command respect and set strict standards at work can be far more passive in their personal lives. At the other extreme, it’s not uncommon find employees who feel like they don’t have a voice on the job look for ways to authentically express themselves in their personal lives.

Savvy mentors take all of this into consideration to make sure that they are helping their teams remain focused, emotionally agile and supportive of one another.

Here are three helpful mentoring tips that can jump start the inner work your teams need to focus on to collaborate consistently during this rapidly changing time.

  • Make sure members of your team don’t just focus on the transactional dimension of their tasks. Remind them that, in order to advance, they need to balance the message they want to deliver with an understanding of how their colleagues feel about themselves after interacting with them.  After an interaction, do their colleagues feel appreciated, supported and motivated?  Do they leave others feeling anxious, confused or emotionally erased?
  • Encourage your team members to be mindful of the conversations they are having with themselves under pressure. Are they feeling emotionally triggered by something in their environment that’s impacting their perspective on a professional challenge?  By encouraging the members of your team to align their thoughts, feelings and intentions in the moment, you can help them find a balance between the roles they are required to play in the home and on the job.
  • Discipline your team, and yourself, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt under pressure. This fosters norms among team members that create a tone of unity everyone can draw strength from to stay calm and focused under pressure.

By bearing in mind how people’s power styles can morph when they are working from home, as well as how they may react when their work location is in flux, you will be better prepared to keep your team on course to navigate this disruptive period and position themselves for success once the current crisis abates.

Maggie Craddock

Maggie Craddock
Maggie Craddock is president and founder of Workplace Relationships LLC, an executive coaching firm, and author of Lifeboat, Power Genes and The Authentic Career. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Maggie Craddock

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