Hybrid working – how to encourage and coach high performance behaviours

Whether people are working from home, the office or travelling to multiple sites, research continually shows that there is one behaviour that drives high performance more than any other.  Officially the behaviour is called ‘conscientiousness’.  In practice, it means doing what you say you’ll do, keeping commitments, taking responsibility for getting a result, not just following a list of tasks.

Some organisations have so little trust in their people that they resort to ever-increasing surveillance of the workforce.  But in practice, if you want a conscientious workforce, you need to have managers who know how to coach that behaviour.

It’s easy to get it wrong in a hybrid world.  For conscientiousness does NOT mean always being ‘switched on’, answering emails 24/7, or picking up on all the work left undone by others.

So here are 4 ways to coach conscientiousness:

  1. Be very clear what you do expect of people
  2. Encourage your team to set realistic timeframes for delivering their work
  3. Explore with colleagues what might get in the way, thus preventing them from doing a good job in the time available
  4. Help your colleagues understand whether a piece of work needs to be done to a ‘good enough that we can move on’ standard, or whether the better they are able to do the piece of work, the more value it could create.

Here are some coaching questions that might help:

  • What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of getting this work done on time?
  • How will be best for you to do this work – which aspects are best done mostly working alone (perhaps from home)? Which aspects do you really need to be with colleagues for – how can you make that most effective?
  • What could you do to minimise the risks of over-running on time or budget?
  • Have you got the right people in your team for this piece of work, if not – will this delay you?
  • Would it be better to get this piece of work done simply and quickly, or could you create more value if you put more time and resources into it?
  • Given your answers to these questions, what is a realistic timeframe for delivering the work?

These coaching questions are easy to use in a virtual context as well as in a face-to-face situation.  They challenge people to think about where and how they need to use their time and any other resources (including colleague’s time).

You may want to share the questions with your colleague before the coaching session, so they have some thinking time.

Remember there are no ‘right’ answers to these questions, you are simply helping your colleague to think through a conscientious approach to delivering their work.