Managing a Hybrid Workforce – Success Strategies

Managers are now challenged to effectively manage staff remotely. The cadence of when employees must be “in the office” versus working remotely varies from credit union to credit union and even department to department. Managers and policymakers must realize that team management focuses on equity versus equality.

Let’s first identify the purpose of employees meeting together, the desired outcomes, and the common denominators of managing employees in the office versus working remotely.

  1. Performance is Paramount – A manager must focus on an employee’s output, task completion, and ability to meet deadlines. This is what matters the most. It doesn’t matter whether an employee is sitting in a cubicle or is remote; their ability to provide quality work and output is vital. Too many managers brought up in the “management by walking around” world try to manage staff based on time and place requirements. This “antique” management style is inappropriate in a remote work world. The focus should be on whether the employee is getting quality work done on time and not on when and where they are doing it.
  2. Engagement is Vital – It does not matter whether a person is on a team call or sitting in a conference room; their attention and input are essential to an engaged employee. An engaged employee demonstrates active listening skills, keeps up with the conversation flow, and readily provides input and insights. When an employee “appears” not to be engaged in the discussion, it becomes a performance issue.
  3. Collaboration is King – Most initiatives in a credit union require cross-functional teams. The effort to coordinate projects across silos and departments is vital. An employee’s ability to seek answers, support, and feedback across silos is what makes these strategic initiatives successful. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and others have collaborative applications that make these conversations effective for those sitting at a conference table or connecting remotely. The “when and where” the employee works is vital during collaboration meetings.
  4. Innovation must be Omnipresent – Innovation is not the result of proximity of bodies but the result of merging ideas, thoughts, and minds. Engaging in virtual conversations where all the minds are focused on solving a problem, seeking solutions, or innovating a product or service is all required. This merging of minds can be done remotely when the facilitation of this effort focuses on hearing all voices, encouraging robust dialogue, and a willingness to challenge each other’s ideas and build on them. The “when and where” the employee works is vital during innovation meetings.

What are the Management Strategies for Leading a Highly Effective Hybrid Workforce?

Communication – It is not enough to communicate the tasks to be completed; expressing the Manager’s Intentions and Purpose is vital. These two communication elements are often used synonymously, but they are different. The Intention is to identify the expectations of each team member, including the quality of work with timelines and the consequences of failing to meet these two criteria. The Purpose of the work is to identify what the result of this effort will yield, why it is essential, and how the credit union, staff, and members will benefit from it. Too often, I see managers laying out the tasks without communicating the intention and purpose.

Performance – In the hybrid world, performance is measured and monitored in real-time. The semiannual or annual performance review system went the way of “managing by walking around.” A manager must have frequent coaching and mentoring conversations to keep employees engaged and focused on the intention and purpose.
When an employee misses a deadline or a quality measure, the conversation must be near immediate to have the employee help find ways to mitigate the consequences of these misses. A discipline of having weekly or bi-weekly one-to-one meetings with each direct report is a proven way to enable these coaching and mentoring conversations. The one-to-one needs to be agenda-driven, not a free flow of conversation. Whether you use a one-to-one discipline or not, you and your staff must agree on a covenant of honesty and transparency. The goal is for the manager to know if there is a problem or issue BEFORE it reaches the crisis stage. These one-to-one meetings should be open-ended questions, not directives. An example of a one-to-one agenda is:

  1. Check-in for employee well-being:
    1. How are you?
    1. What personal and professional challenges are you facing that are affecting your work?
  2. Are there things missing that will prevent you from doing your job?
  3. Are there any tools, training, or resources that will help you?
  4. What can I do to support you?
  5. I appreciate you because…

Demonstrate your Emotional Quotient (EQ) – In a hybrid workplace, a manager must be intentional in exhibiting empathy, compassion, listening skills, and one-to-one engagement. Employees will embrace a leader who demonstrates they honestly care for, listen to, and appreciate them. The intentionality of expressing your EQ is vital in helping staff feel needed and helps them have a sense of belonging to something meaningful. That sense of belonging is essential to every employee and allows them to value the work, the credit union, and the manager.

Stay Flexible – Employees value hybrid work because of its flexibility in managing their work-life balance. A manager must be intentional in understanding this need for flexibility. Some employees find their most productive times are early mornings or even late nights. We all have a work cadence that works best for us. Of course, everyone must acknowledge the need for collaboration and meeting times at fixed schedules. Beyond these prearranged gatherings, the manager should be flexible in when and how an employee works. A manager needs to avoid adding arbitrary work requirements that adversely impact an employee’s need for flexibility. Remember, the goal is for maximum engagement and productivity, period.

Focus on Equity, not Equality – What this means is the manager needs to make sure each employee has what they require to be their very best at their job. Not every employee has the same work, family, relationship, and time constraints, so trying to do everything equally is a recipe for failure. Adapt and adjust to what each employee needs to succeed and acknowledge that some employees will have different needs and accommodations than others.

Managing a remote workforce does add challenges to a manager. Still, suppose the manager stays focused on what is important to them, engagement and performance, and what is essential to the employee: flexibility, clear expectations, connection, appreciation, equity, and feeling like they belong. In that case, the manager’s role becomes very clear.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at


  1. Brad Roteman on January 21, 2024 at 12:01 pm

    As usual, you have the right message at the right time.

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