BCG Henderson Institute

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One of the most common arguments against hybrid work is that you can’t mentor and coach people when you’re not working in close proximity to each other, impeding their growth and development.

While it’s true that there’s no substitute for face-to-face, one-on-one personal interactions and collaboration—getting to know a colleague over drinks, dinner, or a long plane ride together, for example—when it comes to mentorship and coaching there are many ways to make it work in hybrid and, perhaps, even make it work better!

Here are several suggestions to make it work for you:

1. Make sure you meet initially in person. Hybrid doesn’t mean 100% remote. A lot of people get that wrong. The reason hybrid is the predominant work model coming out of the global pandemic is because we found out during those dark days, as researchers have subsequently confirmed, that some things are done better together, in the office, and some things are done just as well or better apart, away from office distractions. Building a relationship, whether for mentorship purposes or any other, requires real face time. It doesn’t have to be often. But it has to be where you begin. I’ve mentored people I see only occasionally—maybe once a year at most—but it requires a strong foundation. You build that foundation by finding time to go out to dinner or drinks and getting to know the person you plan to mentor on a personal level. After the initial relationship has been built, quarterly or even twice-a-year meetings may do.

2. Keep a log. After you get to know the person you’re taking under your wing, write down what you learned so you don’t forget: their spouse or partner’s name, their children’s names and ages, where they’re originally from, where they went to school, what they do for fun, what their career aspirations are, what they’re working on, what they’re particularly good at. When you have remote mentoring interactions, don’t hesitate to refer to your notes so you can ask about the family, or how a particular project is coming along. Trust me: It’ll make them happy that you remembered. Be sure to keep the log current. Update it every time you have an interaction. As I get older, written notes become so much more important!

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