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4 Ways to Effectively Lead in a Hybrid Work Environment: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Nov 08, 2022

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

This is Episode #130 and we’re talking leading in a hybrid work environment. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
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Marketing Smarts Episode #130: 4 Ways to Effectively Lead in a Hybrid Work Environment

The work world has changed A LOT in recent years – and of course we have a lot to say about it. One of the biggest aspects that’s changed is work environments. While it used to be expected to come into the office every day during the work week, the use of hybrid work environments is becoming more and more common. So, how do you lead your team in a hybrid work environment? In this episode, you’ll learn how to set clear expectations, when to schedule key team meetings, how to maintain consistent behavior, and make sure people don’t get too lax working from home. You’ll also hear how often you should be in the office, what to do when someone’s failing to get their work done at home, and the best way to handle losing talent over your mandated work environment. This episode covers everything from the changing office world to working from home. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you effectively lead in a hybrid work environment?
  • Should you mandate that certain days be in the office? And as a leader, should you be in the office all the time?
  • What do you do if someone is failing to get their work done while working from home?
  • How do you best communicate with your team?
  • What if you lose talent as a result of mandating that people are back in office some of the time?
  • Why do you need to set clear expectations with your team?
  • What’s the point of maintaining consistent behavior in the office and at home?
  • How do you get tips as a tour guide?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • 4 Ways to Effectively Lead in a Hybrid Work Environment

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts. I am Anne Candido and I am April Martini. And today we’re going to talk about how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment. This has become a big source of anxiety amongst many leaders as they try to navigate the complexity of having folks working from home and then coming into the office. So communication, culture, and even expectations are needing to be redefined in order to accommodate

April Martini 0:53
Oh, man. And I am going to have a lot to say on this one, because it is a consistent conversation with many of our clients. I mean, across the board at this point, companies worry about demanding that people come back. But then on the other side, communication and culture are suffering without people coming together in person. And my personal worry on all of this is about future generations being without any person to person contact for such a long time, that they won’t be able to develop those skills effectively. But in any case, we’ll get into all of that as we go along. Yeah, and I’m yet to find a topic that you don’t have a lot to say on. Fine. We’re trying to shorten our episodes, people, so you’ll hear me less.

Anne Candido 1:37
That’s not what I meant. But I just thought it was funny. All right. All right, well, so before we like jump into this, I think it’s important to call out that there isn’t one right way of doing this. So as usual, we will be promoting testing and learning. But there are some approaches that are working better than others. So we’re going to really focus on those. Yep, absolutely. So let’s jump into how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment. First thing is to set clear expectations on process, deliverables and consequences. And here’s the clincher, then you need to let go. Yes. Okay, let go. Did you hear that? Let’s go. Alright, so this is a key part of what we call vigilant leadership. And if you haven’t listened to any of our episodes on budget leadership, you should do so there’s some of our most popular episodes. Because that’s really going to help you reframe your style, your mindset, and really put you in the right processes and team structure in order to be successful in a hybrid work environment. So go listen to those episodes, they will really, really help. But let’s drill down in setting the clear expectations on process, deliverables and consequences. This really includes having to get over your control freak mentality. And I know everybody just cringed when I said that, because it’s definitely true. And always be like key. I can’t Yeah, okay. Yes, that’s me, right? You got to own it, you got to own it. And that’s really what are the letting go part becomes really important because it really comes from focusing too much on the doing and not enough on the deliverables. Right. Right. Alright, so specifically, let’s get into some things that are going to really help here. So first, you need to set clear deadlines, and be clear on the implications, the ramifications, and the consequences for missing these. Alright, so this is very, very important. A lot of people will let these things slide. Yep. So they will set up the deliverable. But then, you know, they’ll give some sort of maybe arbitrary, like, time that is due and so the person on the other side is like, well, do they really need it then or not? Or the day will come and it kind of go right, and the deliverables still not there. The leader will say, like, you know, let’s let’s, okay, tomorrow’s fine, right. So automatically, you’ve set up these, the situation and the head of their your people where they’re like, deadlines don’t really matter, right? Or

April Martini 3:51
you set out my favorite as you give a date. And then you’re like, I mean, if you can get it to me by then All right, kind of qualifier that they’re like, do I wait, is that a hard date

Anne Candido 4:00
is exactly that’s exactly right. And so what’s becomes really important here is to make sure that they’re very clear about how the deliverables impact something with regards to the business, whether it be how it impacts other people’s work, how it impacts the company’s bottom line, whatever that is, it establishes the need for that work to be done in that moment. Because really, that motivates people because nobody wants to be that person who just like, let the team down or doesn’t get their their work done in time. So it really does help with the motivation, but it also helps so everybody knows how all the pieces are coming together. The second thing is and I alluded to this already, is it you need to be less concerned about how people get their work done, right. So if someone wants to work odd hours, be less concerned with that and more concerted, they deliver quality work on time. Again, it goes back to having to actually set that expectation. But here’s where working from home has taught us this really great thing about fluidity right so you work you live and You can work some more, and you just kind of really started cultivating a lifestyle that helps you manage your energy levels and helps you manage what’s going on at home. And you don’t have to be so confined to the nine to five work life, this is a really phenomenal thing. This is what your people are really appreciating. So that’s why you need to set the deliverable timing and the quality expectations. But hey, if they want to work like, you know, in the morning, and then they want to take a little break, and they want to work in the evening to kind of finish it up, as long as they’re delivering what they need to deliver on time. It doesn’t shouldn’t matter to you, right? Yep, don’t let it matter. And then also be clear on channels of communication, and when to communicate. So if you expect everybody to be on instant messenger, or teams or whatever, and be responsive, if you ping them, make sure you tell them that like make sure that that is an element of communication, they’re very clear about if you want regular status updates, make sure they know that when are these are they weekly? Now again, don’t resort back to your micromanagement tendencies, and be like, I need an hour daily update just so I know what’s going on, right? Or do you want to know when a problem is actually happening? Or do you want to give them time to actually process through that problem, and then let you know what the solution is. So none of these are actually different than when everybody was in the office. But they come a lot more important and clarifying because when people aren’t together, the cause and effect thing is a little bit lost, like it’s distance. So when we used to see people kind of gathering at somebody’s desk, or like, hey, what’s kind of going on there? So we used to kind of go over and see what was going on. Or there were these impromptu meetings where people be like, hey, something just came up, let’s just have this like quick combo, or the watercooler talk, if you will, those are happening as frequently, especially with people being in different places. So you’re gonna have to work a little bit harder to connect the dots. Yeah, I

April Martini 6:53
think all of that is really fair. And to the comment I made before about the hedging. The thing that I always think about with this one is there’s a level of clarity needed. But there’s also a level of granularity. And yes, a proper level of control to but and I don’t mean control, like be in their business, that you need to set the parameters and then you control the parameters is more what I’m talking about. But this is where I think you get into a lot of trouble. Because if there is gray, what I have seen in a lot of the conversations I have with our clients is if there is room to finagle, people will do it. And I don’t mean that as a to say that it’s necessarily vengeful, or they’re trying to like pull a fast one that is not what I nature, right, yeah, whatsoever. But I think that there is a lot of perspective out there, to varying degrees and varying levels of intensity to where people are like, but I did the job at home successfully for that point in time. Right. And I think the argument here is, we did what we had to do during a period of time that was necessary for us to be doing that. Now we need to find the right balance. But I think you just have to be really, really crystal clear about the parameters that you are setting and then hold to them. So I’ve given the example. And this was not COVID related, but before on the show about when I became the head of strategy at the last agency, but I was also account managing a lot of the business, I wasn’t in the office a lot, because I was either out settling, or I was out with our clients, right. And so I instituted a very black and white level of communication strategy for my team. And so what they knew, and they could repeat it back. And it was just it was simple, right? Like, if you call me I’m going to assume something’s on fire. And I will get out of wherever I am as fast as I can to get to you. If you text me, that’s the next level of urgency. As soon as I can, I will get to it. If you email me with a flag, when I sit down, whenever I get back to my computer, even if it’s in the evening, it will be at the top. If you email me assume that I will read it by the end of the night. I may not reply, because if it doesn’t require one, but I will have seen it. And they could all repeat that back to me. And they all fell in line with that. And I was never surprised. And they never felt like they were left without my support. But that’s what I mean by granularity.

Anne Candido 9:26
And did they know what was urgent what was not urgent, right?

April Martini 9:28
Yeah, yeah. So we so my big thing is a boss was always I do not want to be surprised. So if that client is going to get to me before you like that was the chain of command for things, right? And then also, yes, that’s a very fair question. We did have other levels of support besides just me and we worked overtime to build that. So like the three supervisors below me, were empowered to a certain level to make decision but they were also a team together. So then they were able to lean on each other and so they could help assess for each other Is this serious enough that we need to involve April in it? Right? So yes, so we did have that sort of like what constitutes each of these. But we also kind of we’ve worked together long enough to that they knew what my hot buttons were, what the client teams hot buttons were, and when that phone call actually needed to happen. So anyway, and then the other thing I would say is, and we’re seeing this too, with our clients, there are some roles where, again, to my point about we made it work when we were in COVID, it does not make sense for that person to work from home. And I’ve seen it in everything from, we have systems that costs 10s, or hundreds of 1000s of dollars, we found a way to make it work and put something in that person’s home while COVID was happening. But really, it makes more sense for them to be physically in the office to do it. That’s one example. There’s also things like, alright, if you’re on the admin team, and there are clients coming into the office, it makes more sense for you to be there overseeing the setup for that client than trying to do everything virtually right. And those are like, really, really tangible examples. But you see what I’m setting up there. And so I think those conversations need to be having explained and those people need to own the fact that they put themselves in positions like it’s at will, right. So they put themselves in the position to work that role in the company, if it makes more sense for them to be there or proportionally be there more than other people. And or there are people that are fully remote, and that’s fine. That has to be owned, as well. And I think that people are shying away from the conversation and the tough conversations in order to take the path of least resistance or not have confrontation. But all of this to say you got to set up what the rules are communicated, make it clear and make those people on the other side that work for you have ownership in the reasons why and what their role entails.

Anne Candido 11:51
Yeah, there’s a really, really good points. All right, or second point of how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment is to hold key team communications and meetings for days. Everyone is in the office. April, what do you think about

April Martini 12:05
this? Yes, so I think this is a really good strategy. And we are seeing companies having some success with this. So if it’s company news, or announcements, or strategy sessions, or reviews, those are all things that are better to happen in person with everybody present, right, that does help build the culture that we talked about the beginning that has suffered on the heels of COVID. And the reason for this is because people can participate without the technical barriers. But there’s also those things that I said, I’m so worried about the next generation when it comes to like how to read body language and how to see reactions happen and watch dynamics that even who gravitates to who, when you’re in the office, who sits next to who and who’s talking to who and with Janna, who during the meeting, yes, because this is where things get really tricky to navigate. If you’re only on the computer all the time, you might not know that the CEO is outside of work friends with your boss, right like that might not be transparent when you don’t see those interactions happening. And understanding those personal cues. But also letting other people get exposure to you. That is a way that you show up on both sides. And that’s the appearance of your personal brand. Those are the things that like I said, you can’t see or digest or interpret when you’re just on the screen. This is also really important. If you’re giving either heavy news, it’s usually sad or negative in some capacity or recognition. Something positive on the other side, it’s important to be able to gauge reactions in person so that you can kind of get the temperature check on what’s happening when that’s being delivered. Right people can turn their cameras off on Zoom, you don’t know if they’re distracted, you don’t even know if they even heard what you said, when you were giving that presentation, right? They could be on mute, they could have you on mute, because they’re yelling at their kid, you know. So there’s all kinds of those dynamics. It’s also really, really impactful. And this is something that I think was quite frankly, really hard during COVID to give those positive recognition moments, right. And to have people called out, it’s just I think that a lot of that fell off. And that was where some of the culture stuff suffered and where people didn’t feel like people quite so much because they were just behind the screen. So the caveat here is making sure that everyone actually is there. Not the important people are there too. So if you’re giving recognition, make sure that person or that team or whatever is in person or they know what’s going to happen or whatever. And then just remember that the thing that you really need to be communicating to everybody is we are all human beings and human beings need interaction with other human beings. I think that there is and we’re seeing this to a lot of angst around coming back that I think is actually only because people Bull are so severely out of practice. And even people that traditionally liked coming to the office are suffering from this as well. I mean, I’ll never forget having dinner with a couple of friends one, one who’s introverted one who’s an extreme extrovert. And the extreme extrovert looked at us across the table was like, I’m sorry, I’m having a really hard time being here. And it was because she hadn’t been in front of people for so long. So this is another place where I think you need to one address that everyone is feeling this way to some degree. But also coming back into the office does not have to be the big bad wolf, I think some of it is, is saying it out loud and continuing to say it out loud. And then also appreciate wherever your teams are. So if it makes more sense that it’s a two hour meeting the first time and you encourage people to stick around or come before whatever, then do that. And then go to for write or say we want people in the office, but we realize it doesn’t need to be nine to five for a lot of you people. So come for half day, or come 11 to two or whatever that looks like make sure that you address it. But then also be flexible about what that looks like. Don’t just say, Okay, everyone is coming back in hammers down nine five.

Anne Candido 16:10
Yeah, I think those are all really, really good points in my builds on that would be one is to try to infuse some fun with the point. Yeah, when when people are in the office. Now it doesn’t need to be forced fun. And you don’t need to go back and make up for lost time and make these meetings like four hours long. So that you can share that time together. I mean, there might be use a cost for those may be quarterly or, you know, twice a year or something to that effect. But make sure you have some fun thrown in there. And the other thing I’ll say, and we’ve seen this as a little bit of a bad habit, and we’re going to get into this a little bit more later is that everybody feels like there’s a layer a layer of protection when you have zoom, right? And so especially for people who are more conflict averse, or more introverted, they will tend to use Zoom is that barrier to be able to deliver the news. So then they could just hit done and be like, well, that thank god that’s over. Right. Oh, fair. And then there’s no access access to, you know, easy access to follow up questions, especially like, you know, remember all these meetings where you’d have these meetings, and you’d have these discussions. And then you would like, seek out somebody after the meeting to get something more clarified. Or to have additional conversation, say, Hey, can I just chat with you for a minute on that? When you hit the Done button on the Zoom? It’s like, like banana, you know, it’s like the finale. Like, it’s like it’s done, like, you know, and there’s no access point them for like, Well, should I pain a person and you know, kind of see if we can have another conversation. So avoid that, especially if you are tend to be introverted or a little bit risk averse, because it doesn’t help your team be able to process what you are saying. Okay, so make sure you’re very cognizant of that.

April Martini 17:48
Yeah, I think that’s exactly right.

Anne Candido 17:51
All right. So then the third point for how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment is to maintain consistent behavior, whether in the office or at home, and April, as she alluded to this already, but so good at

April Martini 18:03
pre empting. Sorry, yeah. It’s because I talked so much, right?

Anne Candido 18:07
Well go back to our original opening. You having a lot to say about lots of things. Which is why I love you.

April Martini 18:15
No shortage of talk. Alright, anyway, would you guess I’m extroverted or introverted.

Anne Candido 18:22
But as we mentioned, I mean, it was really, really difficult to get over a lot of that control freak micromanagement behavior when people started working from home. And when you mentioned April’s like if somebody in like, immediately responding, like, what are they doing? Are they messing around? Like, what are they talking about? Like? Are they doing their work? And if they’re not here, how do I know they’re actually doing their work, right. And what we’ve learned and we shared this already, is the biggest way to really, really set paranoia and fear is to have the clear expectations on process, deliverables and consequences. And then let go when people start to deliver like you expect them to, you can start to build that trust. But now that people are spending their time we suggest actually taking this approach of the way that people work from home into the office and not to inadvertently fall back to some of our micromanagement ways just because people are accessible. So we tend to take a lot of advantage of this when people are just right there especially in a cubicle style environment or the Open Office environment as I use my little air quotes. But here’s some areas of inconsistency is it we’ve seen prime and we’ve talked to our clients about that are really driving their people crazy. Okay. So one is drive bys. One big reason why people like working from home is because there are less distractions, right? They feel more productive, they get more done. So if at home you ping people like is that still a thing is Is it paying? I am teams, whatever, you know what I’m talking about instant messaging. I don’t know we still slack all the time. Yes, yeah. So if you’d normally do that to see if somebody’s available, fold up practice in the office to don’t Go in interrupt their flow just because they happen to be like four cubes over, right?

April Martini 20:04
Don’t be a Golden Retriever puppy. That’s why I always say, Don’t get so excited that people are there that you just can’t help yourself, but go bother them. Sounds like something somebody told you April. Maybe it just happened. I, this is the point of the podcast, I’m sharing my advice.

Anne Candido 20:20
I really appreciate you being through my experience. Thank you. Yes, I was told that, yes, I figure so much. Another one that’s been driving people crazy, is making it hard for people to participate if they aren’t in the room. So I remember what it was just phone conferences, we didn’t worry as much about that, because you were just kind of calling in mostly to listen, if you did, it was mostly the meetings that you know, you couldn’t be at, but you didn’t really feel like you had to take an active role in most of the time, unless you were the leader that was hosting the call. But it’s very different when people are on Zoom and in the room and you have more video connection. So you have to really work hard in order to make sure to logistics are able to accommodate for that, right. So things like using whiteboards and flip charts don’t work as well. If people are on Zoom, they can’t see your whiteboard and flip chart, you might have to actually invest in one of the ones and we just use this and one of our clients, which was very nifty is like the wife did you just say nifty? And it was nifty. Oh, nifty. And I mastered that thing in like five minutes. And I know that that is fair. Yeah. And so there are I say that to say even I’m a mechanical engineer by background. Um,

April Martini 21:35
it was what you say words like nifty, nifty, right?

Anne Candido 21:38
It is a very technical term. So as I was saying that, yeah, it was it was easy to use that board and then everybody could see it, whether you’re in the room on the camera, it translated so everybody could see what was going on. So really look into some of these things, whether they’re digital whiteboards, or they’re you’re using the actual whiteboard feature on Zoom. Sometimes everybody might want to be on Zoom, even though I have one microphone answer. Some of these are tech things you have to work through. But everybody can be on Zoom, then. And then everybody can have access to that. So there’s lots of ways of working through it. But be intentional on how you’re doing it so that everybody feels included in the conversation, because it’s very easy to forget the people who are not in the room. Yep. Right. And then the last one, I’m going to say, and I’m gonna turn it over to April is making assumptions. And this happens both ways. Right? We talked about, you know, if you ping somebody don’t answer right away, that’s one that was always a big thing. But it’s also now as people are starting to get a little lacks, we’re gonna get to this in a minute. But again, a little laugh sometimes with their appearance on Zoom. So sometimes, you know, you could show up and look like you just rolled out of bed for a nine o’clock meeting. So if you look like you just rolled out of bed for a nine o’clock meeting assumption on the other size, they slept in, or they didn’t, they weren’t up. But maybe that person was actually up at six, doing a bunch of work and didn’t have time to change. Right. So that also translates back into the work environment to use. And then all of a sudden, if you say let’s just call him Alex for a second Alex is in there talking to Joe about the game the night before. Do you like that game until like midnight? So Alex is obviously sleeping in because that’s I saw him on a Tuesday morning after Monday Night Football game, looking to shoveled at nine o’clock meeting, right? None of that is probably true or could be true, but you just don’t know. Right? But it’ll drive you crazy. It’ll send you down rabbit holes, creating these stories about people. Don’t do it, again, set up the expectations for the deliverable process. And then let go.

April Martini 23:37
Yes, so all of that, I want to just say one thing, going back to when we were joking about the the technology, but one of the things I will say that I do think that COVID accelerated is a lot of these tools that are out there. So I just want to say, if you are nervous about being able to get things like digital whiteboards, and learning how to use it, they are really, really intuitive. I remember several years ago when we were trying to figure this out from a research standpoint about how not to travel, but to bring people on and be doing like one on ones and things virtually, it was a nightmare disaster, and we just trashed it. Even just a few years ago. Yeah, yes, yes. And that, yes, that was a long time ago. But so anyway, I just want to give a plug for that and say there are so many really awesome solutions that and I think this can get you a lot of credit with people that you’re trying to make it work from a hybrid perspective. So that’s a little bit of an aside. But I think and you’ve heard us say this throughout this episode, the truth of the matter is the world of work has changed significantly. So you have to find whatever those objective measures are, and they’re things like we’ve said, quality of the work. Is it getting done on time? What are the things that you have communicated that they’re respecting or upholding, regardless of whether they are in person or not? Because like Anne said, some things changed and the Aleksey sample is perfect. I mean, I used to go to work every day with a full face of makeup. Regardless, that was a, you know, a hard rule for me, it was how I felt comfortable. I don’t show up that way all the time on the zoom camera. And I certainly don’t show up that way if it’s just me and and and the internal teams, right. So that’s just one thing that I think has really changed, we’ve gotten a lot more casual. So if there are things that you’re seeing, and they’re driving you crazy as the boss, you are within your right to set what those expectations are, however, you need to really think about whether those things are important or not, and assess what things have changed, that maybe are just a little bit of like a bug in your bonnet type thing. Yeah. Right. So one of the examples that I was talking to someone about recently, this person was super frustrated, because they’re in the office every single day. But as we dug deeper, the reason they’re in the office every single day is because they can’t focus at home, because they have a spouse that works from home. And they have two young children that while those young children are being taken care of by others, this person actually doesn’t have the discipline to manage not going out or letting the kids come in or whatever. And so he goes to the office, because that is how he can be productive. Yeah, but you can’t just halo that onto the rest of the team and be mad. Now, I did tell him that he has a whole lot of validation from the other side, which is there really is no structure or mandate or anything for when people come to the office. So there’s just more of a quote unquote, we would like you to come into the office and no expectation, no expectations, I mean, to the point of this episode, right. So he’s not wrong on the other side. But that’s where I think we really are in a world now where there are way more individual cases and exceptions than there have ever been before. And so you just have to go back to what objectively makes sense for each employee and then build against that versus like an said, if you start swirling in this place of like, well, why is this like this? And that’s like that, and this person just shows up like this, you’re going to end up in a mess in your head, and you’re never going to be able to be productive insult yet. Yes. So

Anne Candido 27:12
true. So so true. All right. The fourth point of how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment is to make sure people don’t get too lacks, and they’re working from home environment. So April,

April Martini 27:23
I preempted myself again, oh, my gosh, okay. Anyway,

Anne Candido 27:26
I don’t have a script or anything. Right.

April Martini 27:32
Okay, fair enough. Right. All right. So this is going to be beat up on April 8, I got it. All right. It’s just me never gets old, I have thick skin. Okay. So as we talked about, in the example, just previously, the the appearance, right, so I gave an example of kind of like levels of professional appearance, right. So I still have zero patience, if it is an environment where we are presenting to a client, and anyone on our team shows up on that camera and does not look presentable, we have an issue, which is immediately addressed, and the expectation is reset, even though it has already been set. So that is something that you know, no matter if we’re talking about coming into the office or at home, you have to present yourself well for the expectation of the culture of the environment. And the leadership needs to communicate what that is, I think we do need a little bit of a reset what, right because we did get casual, yes. So I think everybody skewed way more casual than ever before, it’s just that some people have stayed too far on that spectrum. We also should really dress one up for who you are engaging with in the formal environment. So with the example of forthright people, when I know that we are presenting to a big client, or really important client or a very buttoned up client, I am super conscious of what I look like that day, right. And I just had this the other day where I was meeting with a new CEO for the first time, and we’ve been working with their team for a while now. And so I showed up and the first comment from the client was like, Damn, girl, you’re looking good today. I’m not sure what that says about what I. But I mean, I did purposely dress, very, very polished. And I mean, he isn’t even a polished person. But it just it’s my expectation of myself, right? It’s a CEO of a company. Yes, that’s what you need to do. Right? So respect, it’s a respect thing. Absolutely. And then also being mindful of the environment that you are in. We have tons and tons of folks that use those backgrounds. Now, I always get distracted by them, because I love them. So I’m like, Oh, look at that one. Maybe I can and then I’m like starting to redesign my office in my head. Anyway, that’s my own personal problem. But those are a really great way to make sure that things look professional, right? Because if you’re in a space, I mean, if you’re in your basement and there’s toys everywhere from your kids, right? You can easily snap one of those on. It’s not a distraction. It’s easy. Again with in terms of resets, right Your children really shouldn’t be there. If you’re presenting to clients, right? Your dogs should not be barking. We have a puppy in the house. Again, if I am on with just internal teams, or even some of our partners and Denise there, and I know they love dogs, and it’ll be a point of levity, I let her be in there knowing she might bark at the mailman. If I am presenting to a client or closing a deal or whatever, that dog is locked away where I can’t possibly hear her even if she does bark, right. So I think that was something that we gave people a ton of grace, because we were in a terrible time that no one had ever experienced before there was nowhere else for kids and pets to go. And a lot of people were never planning to work from home in the first place. Right? But if you are and in the instances you are, it’s the expectation of respect back to the companies that are allowing for this to happen. And as the manager, if you’re seeing issues with it, or consistent issues with folks, you have to have that reset that I was talking about before and make sure it really I’m considering this a recalibration. So I think if everybody puts it in their mind, that way, you can’t expect people to snap back one way again, it will probably never be exactly the same way again. But if you continue to reinforce and recalibrate expectations and kind of do tuneups, then people should be able to get back to where they need to be.

Anne Candido 31:21
Yeah, I’m going to emphasize to those points, which I think is emphasize one and build on one because I think everything you said is extremely important. One is that the COVID grace period is over. Yes, right. If you are working from home, you are expected to be working from home. So it’s like pre COVID mentality again, where you’re not home because your kids are not in school and are doing home school or virtual school, right? You’re expected to have care for your kids, whether they’re in school, or whether or not you have a nanny, like this is not like trying to manage so I don’t have to pay for childcare anymore, or I don’t have access to childcare anymore, right? Same thing with your pets, I totally agree with you. I think if it’s in a meeting where it’s very casual, then that’s probably fine. But it gets a lot of gives me anxiety when I’m trying to figure out what to do with my dog. And if I’m not in in a informal medium and informal meeting. So you need to plan for those things or distractions from your family coming home, I put a sign like a post a note on my door and be like I am in a meeting do not bother me, right so that I don’t get the just random, hey, I’m home, we know what’s going on kind of thing. So be very mindful of studying, it’s spaced out like it is now an official office. Alright, that is super, super important. Now people are starting to lose patience with people who are not doing that. And rightfully so. Yes. And it’s not seen as okay anymore. Right? The regardless of what people thought this time last year, and I think the second thing that I’ve been seeing a lot too is people are justifying the way that they show up based on the way that other people are showing up to with regards to what they’re wearing, even if future clients. So if my client is sitting in their basement and they just have a T shirt and shorts on I don’t know if they have shorts on this assuming they have shorts on T shirt and shorts on super casual. Yeah, super casual. It’s okay for me to show up in T shirt and shorts. No, it’s not. It is absolutely no way okay for you to show up in T shirt and shorts. Unless this is a client that you’ve known forever. And you’re having a very casual meeting. But those I would say are very like few and far between. I mean, you should be still dressing in a way that you would be dressing in order to go to the client’s work, like their office or their their place of employment. Yep. Right. Do not believe that just because they’re dressed like that. It’s okay for you to dress like that. Because again, it goes back to what we were saying. It’s a sign of respect, is it shows that you care about the meeting, that you are presenting yourself in a way that they understand that they are important, it gives them that competence that you have thought about that and that you are showing up in a professional manner. Plus, I think once you’re dressed like that, it makes you actually act more professional. If you’re dressed very casually, I think you start acting very casually, too. So those are the two things I wanted to reinforce both. Yes. Awesome. Okay. To recap how to effectively lead in a hybrid work environment Sekler expect expectations, unprocessed deliverables and consequences and then let go. This is a key part of what we call vigilant leadership. It includes having to get over your control freak mentalities, which focus too much on the doing and not enough on the deliverable. Second, its whole key communications and meetings for days everyone is in the office, company news announcements, strategy sessions, reviews, all are better when everyone is present in person so everyone can participate without tech barriers. And so you can monitor all those important nonverbal engagement that helps you assess culture. And one caveat to this that we didn’t mention is don’t wait on the some of these things, though, for when they’re in the office. So your team is the last to know good. So that’s the caveat, right? maintain consistent behavior whether in the office or at home, it has been difficult to overcome or control for He also knows micromanagement ways, when people started to work from home, but now that those ways are working, bring them into the office as well. Make sure people don’t get to laughs and are working from home environment, maintain a professional appearance is important no matter if in the office or on Zoom. Alright, so our next segment is in the trenches where we give real world examples, specific industries and situations, but with broad application for anyone to digest and put into action. All right, our first churches question, Should I mandate that certain days be in the office is that a leader should I be in the office all the time? Alright, so I’m gonna get my perspective. And I’m gonna invite April to give her so my personal perspective, is that I think you should mandate certain days in the office, and it should be the same every week. That way you can plan those important connections that we mentioned. And you can help to develop some level of culture with everybody in person, and hopefully, then that culture start to translate outside the walls. And but not in a timeframe that is so long that people kind of forget, I mean, we noticed this with one of our recent clients who their style is to be working from home, like everybody works from home. And then they brought certain folks together for this big brainstorming. And everybody was so excited just to be there and see each other and they’re like, I haven’t seen you in person in a year, it’s just so nice to be with people and have this energy, and you can feel the energy in the room, like I’ve never sensed an energy like that in a brainstorming session, really, I mean, so there is something to that. And you really need to facilitate that. So make sure that you are allowing that space and time. But it’s it’s much easier if you know which days everybody’s gonna be in the office, and you expect that. And so you can plan around that, you may need to flex because you might need to go to leadership team meetings that have to be in person, but we do believe I at least I believe, and I’ll see what April believes, I believe in practicing what you preach. So if you are saying it’s okay for your team, to have this hybrid work environment, you should practice one as well, in order to be able to model the behavior that you want to see. So if you’re always in the office to kind of make sure people feel like, even though you’re saying one thing, you’re kind of acting another isn’t really okay. Isn’t that okay? And then one person starts going to the office every day. And pretty soon, another person does, because they’re like, Oh, well, so and so’s going, then I must go to? That’s what I would say, April, what do you say?

April Martini 37:21
Yeah, so I will say number one, I like the team approach to being in the office. And I am also onboard with choosing a day or two that makes sense and keeping those same days for the most part. So while you have to be flexible, this is where I will say you as a leader can drive yourself crazy, trying to be too flexible. Yeah, we are seeing this happen. So just make the schedule what it is. And I do think that people will start to enjoy being in the office with their teammates together, versus randomly picking, I’m going to do Tuesday, I’m gonna do Friday, I’m gonna do Wednesday, whatever. When it comes to the perspective of what you exemplify as the leader, I too feel like you should, to the best of your ability, do the hybrid thing. However, I gave the example before of a person who couldn’t work from home for a whole variety of reasons. So if that is your reality, and your situation, and we actually have someone like I had said that that is the case, then you need to almost bend over backwards to over communicate and reinforce to people and then not penalize right about the fact that they don’t need to be there. So my reinforcement is always, you know, as a reminder, I just do better when I’m in the office, I realized that’s not true for all people, I want all of you to be here Tuesdays and Wednesdays, every week outside of that. I don’t care and then behave as such. So if someone does start coming all the time, and thinking they’re gonna get a leg up, you can’t treat them any different than the rest of this. So, so fair, yeah, that is sort of my, I think, I just would say the simpler the better for you and for everyone. And then be mindful if you’re going to say one thing and do another and keep reinforcing. Yeah, the FOMO thing is very real. If you make people feel like they’re missing out, yeah, then they will start modeling behavior. So they don’t feel left out tingly, right. Yeah, yeah.

Anne Candido 39:28
All right. The second and a treacherous question, what do I do if someone is failing to get their work done by working from home in April, basically said this is working from home or a hybrid work schedule is a privilege, not a right 100,000%? Right. So this is one of the expectations you need to manage that we’ve said over and over again. And you need to state clearly that at any time that doesn’t look to be working for the team or the company or the business, that it will be revoked, right. So that’s the expectation that you’re clearly setting in it. doesn’t have to be fair that everyone gets the same privilege to the point like some people are going to have to be working more in the office. It’s just the nature of their job. That’s the things that they need to do they need to facilitate whatever the office work environment is. The only thing that needs to be fair is everybody has the opportunity to yes, they can, right? Yes. So that means if like, Ann is like having trouble making her deliverables, and they’re not quality deliverables, I might need some more attention. And so therefore, I need to come in the office, and I need to be in office environment so that everything can be more managed and more facilitated right. Now, the also, the big thing here is that you need to set the expectation that everybody must abide by the rules and guidelines. Now, don’t be arbitrary here. This is really, really important. As in you mentioned this before April. It’s like, if you’re acting one way, one day, and then you kind of let it slide, and then you know, somebody else does it. And then you’re like, penalize that person for doing it being penalized this person, things start falling apart. And then also make sure that as things are happening, even if it’s at work, or at home, that you’re documenting things as they happen, so you can have those really legitimate conversations. And if they choose to leave as a result, because they don’t like the environment, like you said, April, it’s like, well, it’s sad to see people go, but you have to facilitate the culture first.

April Martini 41:24
Yeah, so I’ll be real, real clear on this one. If someone’s not doing their work from home, and you deliver the message, they better get their button the office, they know what’s good for Yeah, exactly. Because really, and this is where I’ll bring up respect again, right, they should understand that they need to save face, and that they should play it safe for a while because they have caused you said boss an inconvenience with their behavior. So you need to nip it in the bud immediately, you need to cite specific examples, you need to reset expectations, you may need to do a performance plan, like and said this is a privilege, not a right. And this is where I lean into the pre COVID days at the agency, there was an opportunity for everyone to work a portion of time from home, however, they had to earn it, and then maintain it. And for some people, quite frankly, it was never an option. Yeah. And it was fine. And so I think that this is one where you know, I said in the beginning, I don’t necessarily think that in most cases, there’s malicious intent associated with things, but this one, and you can hear me hear it in my voice. This one’s a really big pet peeve of mine because of the fact that it is a privilege. And so for the employees, you want to keep in the really good ones. It almost is that they like they overcompensate. Right. And I’m not saying that you lean into that behavior, you take advantage of it or whatever. But it’s more that they appreciate it for what it is versus when people are not delivering. I just feel like there’s no exception for that. And they’re taking advantage.

Anne Candido 43:10
Yeah, I think it’s a really good point. All right, our third in the trenches question, What if we lose talent or is out of mandating that people are back in the office some of the time? April?

April Martini 43:20
Yeah. So first, reevaluate that you’re not swinging too far one way or being unrealistic? Or micromanaging the pitfalls and dangers? Yeah, make sure it’s not you that we’ve talked about in the episode. If you’re not, then you’re really going to have to be honest about whether they’re the right people? Because really, do you want people that are not invested in the culture of the organization or that don’t want to be part of the team or come in person? I mean, did you listen to what I just said? The answer is kind of a hard No, right. So in most cases, really, I do believe that the people that you want to stay will rise to the occasion, and the others will weed themselves out. And that will be fine. Even if in the moment you don’t feel like it’s fine. I think over time, you will see things like culture improve, or people gel better together, or those types of things. I’ve seen this work, quite frankly, as a really good criteria for who stays and who goes because the good apples are the ones that are feeling the impact of being isolated. And maybe it is a little scary to have to go back in and see people but they’ll get used to it again, just like they were used to it before and likely learn to enjoy it. It’s just the practice of being back in person. So for the ones you want to keep help them, give them a little extra TLC, understand or acknowledge their emotions, be empathetic, all of those things but like I said, the ones that you want will rise to the occasion and the ones that you don’t want or need over time will self select out.

Anne Candido 44:45
I really truly believe that. Yeah, I believe that too. And the initial point I put on that one, it goes back to the earlier point we just made is to make sure it’s not you and you’re not overly indulging your own desires wants and tendons so sure right. So if you’re an extrovert At a person you like people around, and you just want everybody to come back to the office, so you have people to hang out with and go out to lunch with and talk to you all day. And your team is not wanting that you need to really honor the team. And you need to learn how, as a leader, to be more of a vigilant leader in put your own things aside in your own desires and tendencies aside for the betterment of your actual team. And I know this is really hard for you, especially as sent me and some introverts who are like, they went the other way, right? They want to everybody wants to want everybody to stay at home, and then not have to go in the office and have to deal with that is the other is both sides of the fence, folks. And so you need to figure out what’s gonna be the best for your culture best for your team. And then you need to find the right solution there. And like we said, it can be a little bit of a test and learn there’s no right answer here. It really depends on the people. It depends what the people’s tendencies are, and depends on how you get the work done and how you get really good work done, right. Yep. Yeah, good builds. Okay, and our third and final segment is a marketing smarts moment. And this is something that we’ve seen in the environment around us that people are actually using the marketing smartphone and maybe not using their marketing support as well. And so mine is the New Orleans Premiere Haunted Ghost, Voodoo Vampire and Mystery Tour since I just got back from New Orleans Say that three times fast New Orleans premiere haunted ghost voodoo vampire Mystery Tour. That naming Wow, yeah. And it distinguishes it from the other one, which was like the New Orleans premiere voodoo haunted ghosts mystery vampire tour. You saw like the all read the stranding crisis. Okay, yeah, but putting that aside for a second because that was actually not my point of this one. That was a talk about the actual tour itself. So now if you actually did a New Orleans, there is a gazillion of these right, you’ll see them during the day, you’ll see them at night, we have one to go at night doing it adults, only one. And I actually highly suggest, if you’re going to do this, you do the adults only one because some of the stories are quite gruesome, and they’re quite intense. And they don’t really have a PG version. So if you want the actual experience, you actually probably need to get like the R version, that kind of makes it come to life a little bit more. And this one, particularly I thought was really good. And in our it was really good, because our tour guy was a amazing storyteller. Alright, so here’s an image, Robbie Rob. Now, Robbie, Rob, look the part as much as talk the part, if you’re going on a spooky ghost tour, or whatever the rest of this time, you kind of it’s kind of makes it work when your guide kind of is a little spooky as well. And the way that he tells us story is is a little spooky. So this was a two hour tour, um, get to hear all the stories, there was definitely we took some pictures, some paranormal activity going on, because New Orleans, I guess is one of the most haunted cities in the world. And it’s on a ley line. And you can say whether or not it’s real or not real, it didn’t really matter. It was still experiencing cool. Yeah. And because like New Orleans was the original Dora district, like the whole place is like open container, you just take your drink, and you go along, and we actually stopped to the bar to refill and you keep going along. So the experience of it is all really awesome. So you’re probably like, Alright, thanks. If I’m in New Orleans, I’ll do that. Do this tour. What’s the bigger point here? And I think the bigger point here that I wanted to really bring forth is two things. One is, being an amazing storyteller really amplifies the experience. So we were looking around, and we were kind of listening to some of the other guys and they just weren’t nearly as good as him. And he was actually selectively cultivating his group. You can tell he’s like, Yeah, I’ll take these. And then somebody else can be behind me. He goes, Oh, you guys go over there. And you know, so he was definitely salt. It’s like to be cultivating his group. He’s reading the room, he’s reading the room, and hire good talent raised. So this was the other thing, I think that was really important that this, he got a ton of tips, because he was able to tell fantastic stories in bring it all to life in a very cohesive and consistent way. But as well as like, really looking the part in adding that extra level of like, going above and beyond. I mean, it was yes. So those are my two lessons.

April Martini 49:17
I think that’s that’s great. And that’s exactly the point of this, right? It’s, we’re talking about the experiences we actually have, but all of those applied no matter what role you’re in, or what you’re trying to achieve being an amazing storyteller, showing up and playing the part being on brand consistently across the board. And also owning the audience. I mean, I’m feeding it back a little different than you said, but that’s what I take away from that.

Anne Candido 49:41
Yeah, and the other thing he did really, really well was he pointed out other places that we might like to go so we it was an added value and go in anything but he was like Muriel’s restaurant for example. We actually had dinner Muriel’s restaurant, they have a ghost table, you can eat at it for an extra 50 bucks there is the actual like authentic voodoo place like, this is where you go get your readings and stuff like that. So it helps you to get acclimated to the city in a different way from somebody who’s actually lives there. Done that, you know, in those sorts of things versus guessing because there’s a gazillion places you can do your booty readings, right? Yep. So that was my marketing smarts moment. So just to recap how to effectively lean in a hybrid work environment. First is set clear expectations, unprocessed deliverables, consequences, and then let go. This is a key part of what we call vigilant leadership. It includes having to get over your control freak mentalities, which focus too much on the doing and not enough on the deliverable. Second is whole key team communications in meetings for days everyone is in the office, company news announcements, strategy sessions, reviews all are better when everyone is present in person so everyone can participate without tech barriers, so you can monitor all those important nonverbal engagements that help you assess culture. Third is maintain consistent behavior whether in the office or at home. It’s been difficult to overcome or control freak gusto nose micromanagement ways when people started to work from home but out those ways are working. Let’s bring them into the office as well. And finally, make sure people don’t get too lacks and they’re working from home environment. Maintaining professional appearance is important no matter if in the office or in zoom. And with that we’ll say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need

April Martini 51:21
help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now go show off your Marketing Smarts!