Ep15: From Denial to Adaptation: Elizabeth Knox on the 5 Stages of Hybrid Work

Thursday, July 11, 2024
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  • Hybrid as a vehicle for the conversation about healthy/sustainable workplaces
  • Building trust and open communication in hybrid workplaces
  • Navigating conversations with mutuality to build hybrid cadence
  • Top technology traps in a hybrid work environment

In episode 15, I am joined by Elizabeth Knox, Founder of MatchPace, an organizational effectiveness consulting firm that helps leaders adopt hybrid work. She shared her valuable insights on the importance of leadership in navigating change in hybrid work environments, diving deep into the keys to successful leadership in building a thriving and effective organization. 

In our discussion, we unpacked how hybrid work amplifies the existing culture and dynamics within the organization, practical steps to determining a suitable hybrid cadence, defining mutuality and understanding why it’s crucial in making decisions, and more. Together, we explore the future of work and navigate the challenges and potential of hybrid work environments.

Hybrid is the Vehicle for the Conversation

Elizabeth Knox admitted that now that the hybrid work debate is over, the focus has shifted towards helping leaders move towards adaptation in order to create thriving and effective organizations. She explained that this involves supporting leaders in their personal growth and transformation, as well as guiding them towards healthy embodied leadership.

“The vehicle for all of this conversation about a more healthy and sustainable workplace is hybrid.” - Elizabeth Knox, Founder of MatchPace

We discussed the importance of authentic leadership in navigating change in hybrid work environments. Elizabeth Knox contrasted the impact of two different kinds of leaders on their organizations during times of change. Leaders who engage authentically with change tend to make a difference in the way their organization functions. On the other hand, leaders who simply “check off boxes” but lack genuine engagement can come across as robotic. 

Elizabeth Knox highlighted trust, authenticity, and employee engagement as crucial elements for successful leadership in hybrid work settings. Engaging authentically with problems and changes is a powerful skill for leaders to develop. She explained that it's important for leaders to understand their own fears, the needs of their clients, and the needs of their team when navigating change. A leader who embraces change and adapts to new circumstances will have a positive impact on their organization.

Read more: Your Employees Might Be Lonely - 5 Strategies to Build a Connected Workforce

Building Trust and Open Communication in Hybrid Workplaces

Elizabeth Knox emphasized how it is essential to have a foundation of trust in the organization before transitioning to a hybrid model. She believes that hybrid work amplifies the existing culture and dynamics within the organization. Employees who may already feel pressured to always stay connected, even during time off, may act in ways that are not trustworthy. She gave the example of an employee having their camera off while working at a ski resort.

“Hybrid work is like money—it makes you more of who you are. If your organization already has high trust and employees are ready to adapt to challenges, then they can figure out flexible work. But if you're already a low trust organization and people aren't coming to work with their engaged whole self, that's going to continue in flexible work. It's the idea of: if you get more money, you're going to do similar things with it.” - Elizabeth Knox, Founder of MatchPace

Elizabeth Knox also emphasized the importance of focusing on outcomes rather than physical presence when building trust and open communication in a flexible work environment. Hybrid work can amplify the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. It is crucial to reflect on the current state of the organization and determine if it aligns with the desired culture and values.

Understanding Hybrid Cadence and Mutuality in Organizations

Elizabeth Knox shared a little on how to set up a hybrid cadence. It requires understanding the type of work an organization does and knowing their team and clients first. Only then can organizations successfully determine the hybrid cadence that best suits their unique needs. Unfortunately, many organizations start with determining the cadence first.

Source: Elizabeth Knox on LinkedIn

Elizabeth Knox discussed the importance of approaching conversations with mutuality, focusing on the shared vision and commitment to a cause in order to accommodate each other's needs. Mutuality in conversations implies working towards a common goal and not just focusing on personal preferences. It involves understanding the needs of both employees and the organization, requires a collaborative and empathetic approach, and focuses on creating a balance between individual and collective needs.

“People walk into conversations with their own interest in mind. At the same time, they’re navigating things with other humans. Employees in successful workplaces realize that they’re on the same team and share a vision for their work.” - Elizabeth Knox, Founder of MatchPace

Elizabeth Knox shared an example of an organization making decisions based on mutuality and open communication. The organization implemented a 50-mile radius rule for new employees' first year to prioritize in-person connections and relationships. They believed that in-person connections facilitate stronger and deeper relationships, making work easier especially for new employees. The organization made a hard decision based on the importance of in-person connections for effective collaboration.

Top Technology Traps in a Hybrid Work Environment

Elizabeth Knox addressed the top technology traps in a hybrid work environment, including data security and over-reliance on tech tools. She emphasized the value of personal conversations over digital communication tools and warned that an over-reliance on technology tools can diminish work quality. Ultimately, people still need to talk to each other.

“Make sure your tech tools talk to each other, or actually work together, but then also make sure your people talk to each other because that can solve problems easier sometimes.” - Elizabeth Knox, Founder of MatchPace

Elizabeth Knox encouraged reimagining work in a way that integrates with our whole lives and allows for a more holistic approach to work-life balance. She emphasized that leaders can set an example and encourage work-life balance among their teams.

References

MatchPace helps organizations optimize their pace by structuring the workday to maximize focus, drive towards effectiveness and outcomes, and make the most of the power of the human brain and other productivity tools - with the goal of helping orgs achieve their objectives, retain their talented team, and give everyone back more of their most valuable resource: their time.

Speakers

HOST

Jenny Moebius

SVP @ Skedda | Angel Investor

Jenny is a top Go-To-Market (GTM) leader in the Greater Boston area, where she has a track record of building powerful brands and categories, generating demand (for both sales- and product-led orgs), and creating energizing mission-driven cultures of belonging in the B2B tech space.

GUEST

Elizabeth Knox

Founder of MatchPace

Elizabeth is the founder of organizational effectiveness consulting firm MatchPace. She is a former program manager and principal leader at CSRA, the premier provider of high-tech next-gen IT solution services to the department of defense, the intelligence community, and federal civilian agencies.

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