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The way people work has changed exponentially over the past three years.  Online meetings, flexible working, we all know and have lived through the changes. The future workplace is here, and it’s hybrid.

Leading remote and hybrid workers requires a new set of skills for managers.  HR functions have become strategic, and so the responsibility for the operational HR has been placed more firmly on the shoulders of line managers.  This can lead to difficulties when there is a perceived skills gap or lack of confidence, particularly when dealing with a challenging subject matter.

No matter the sector I’m working in, one theme which often emerges with clients is that few managers feel confident enough or feel they have the skills to have more challenging conversations with their staff. Whilst it has always been a trend, this has significantly increased since the pandemic. In some cases, there have been gaps in their training and in others they have simply been concerned about saying the wrong thing and ending up with a grievance against them, worse still is a tribunal.

With this in mind, I developed a tool called the Heat Grid. This tool gives managers the opportunity to identify the challenging behaviours they are dealing with and categorise them in terms of the level of acceptability and complexity to resolve.  The aim is to empower them to tackle problems early and effectively.

I used the Heat Grid with a management team in a retail business. The individuals identified key challenging behaviours and then allocated them to the different quadrants on the Heat Grid.  Each quadrant illustrates a different level of complexity – from a simple spark from a sparkler through to an inferno of intense heat. Multiple smouldering fires and bonfires are less intense but still tricky to control if not dealt with effectively. The Heat Grid helped these managers to identify how their conflicts had escalated because they had not been dealt with early enough. The team recognised that they were not intervening at the ‘sparkler’ stage, thereby stopping the issue escalating.  We discussed and developed strategies for tackling issues earlier to avoid clustering at the inferno stage.

Why not have a go yourself? Think of some of the challenging conversations that you may need to have or may have avoided so far and place them on the Heat Grid. Is there a pattern? Are there clusters of behaviour? What are you currently doing about them?

If you need help, then give me a call.