Angelina Gennis, Senior Analyst

Show Notes:

As companies have settled into a blend of office- and home-based work, some managers have struggled to find their footing. What does it take to manage distributed teams effectively and keep employees motivated? Senior Analyst Angelina Gennis shares advice on this week’s podcast episode. 

Gennis begins by explaining what it means to manage well: setting the right expectations and fulfilling those expectations. “What happened when we moved to hybrid work was we did not reset expectations,” she says. For some teams, the result has been misaligned perceptions of whether expectations are being met — confusion “that continues to linger long after it’s excusable,” she says. 

To address the issue, Gennis says, it’s important to focus not on the hybrid experience in itself but on culture. Managers should examine the behavioral norms and rituals that shape the culture — things such as the channels employees use to communicate, how they participate in conversations, and the tone they use with one another. Employees expect managers to forge an emotional connection with them and instill a sense of belonging and help them feel heard. 

This leads to the concept of mindfulness, which Gennis describes as being aware of the interactions, the purpose, and the power dynamics that occur in a hybrid environment. Mindfulness, she says, helps managers cultivate compassion, meet employees on their terms, and shape meaning through their actions. She also points out that mindfulness is not directly measurable, but it can be inferred from culture energy, which is the employees’ perceptions of how committed, adaptable, motivating, and purposeful the culture is. 

The episode closes with Gennis describing Forrester tools to help managers assess and improve their mindful management skills and understand the gaps between their perceptions and employees’ perceptions of the culture. “The good news is that there are very rational next steps [for achieving] the outcomes you’re hoping for,” she says. 

For a deeper dive into this topic, check out the agenda for Forrester’s CX Summit North America happening in June, which will include sessions on leadership and AI, culture building, and more.