Hybrid pilot shows value of line manager training

A hybrid working trial shows the difference training for line managers can make to their confidence about embedding new ways of working.

Illustration showing virtual meeting


A new and first-of-its-kind UK pilot designed to teach managers how to navigate the evolving world of hybrid and flexible work has found that bosses lack confidence in motivating their teams, running meetings, and managing conflict remotely.

The two-month pilot programme was led by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Timewise.

The hybrid trial – conducted from September to October 2023 – brought together leaders from 30 organisations in a wide range of sectors, from health and social work to construction, manufacturing and law enforcement. Structured as a series of immersive workshops, Timewise offered ongoing training and support for participants on effective management, building a hybrid team and communicating with and motivating teams.

While CMI research found that 86% of managers say their organisation operates in a hybrid way, research from the University of Birmingham found that only 43% of managers have training to manage hybrid teams. Following the pilot, CMI evaluated its impact and found a significant difference in skills before and after the pilot in several areas:

● Resolving conflict and having difficult conversations online (46% confident prior to the pilot, 86% after the pilot).
● Keeping their teams motivated (43% confident prior, 89% after the pilot).
● Balancing work and home-life commitments (43% confident prior, 82% after the pilot).
● Managing underperformance (36% confident prior, 79% after the pilot).
● Building connection and cohesion among hybrid teams (43% confident prior, 93% after the pilot)
● Understanding the biases that can emerge in hybrid working and how to mitigate them (32% confident prior, 96% after the pilot).

Participants in traditionally non-hybrid sectors also shared their experience of the pilot. They include healthcare leader Petra Smith who found herself unexpectedly leading a team of health and safety professionals amidst a transition to hybrid work. Struggling with communication and structure, she enrolled in the pilot and learnt how to foster open dialogue and set clear expectations. With monthly meetings, regular field visits and team meals, Petra has cultivated a collaborative environment,
leading to happier, more transparent teamwork and her own growth as a leader.

Amy Butterworth, Consultancy Director at Timewise, said: “Flexible working has mainstreamed – but for many, the experience still feels a little rough around the edges. During the pandemic-response years of 2020 and 2021 everyone adapted at pace, learning however they could. As a result, a myriad of ways to work in a hybrid way took root – not all of them good. Our programme combined Timewise’s specialist flexible working knowledge, with CMI’s deep expertise in supporting managers, and has evidenced that investing in specific hybrid management skills and capability benefits the managers themselves, their teams and their organisations.”

“Business leaders need to understand that managers are designing and embedding flexible cultures without even realising it. Cultures that may set the tone for the next 20 years or more. The path ahead can look chaotic, or it can be planned out strategically and made fair for everyone. Fundamentally, it is important to realise that managing hybrid teams is a core business discipline for the twenty-first century, with a skill-set that has to be learnt.”


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