Uncertainty. As humans we hate it and many of us don’t deal well with it. We can’t plan effectively, we feel like we’re stagnant and we’re constantly focused on the ‘what if?’ It’s unnerving, incredibly frustrating and contributing to a lot of anxiety and stress that people are feeling at the moment. I mean many of us can’t even plan a holiday at the moment. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges leaders are facing with their employees at the moment. It’s certainly a difficult one because no one really knows what the future holds and for those of us in Victoria, we don’t even know when our restrictions will end and how long that will last for. It’s difficult to be able to provide a level of comfort when we are living in such an inflated VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world right now.
However, with every challenge and obstacle there is a way to manage it and move forward. This is always in our control and whilst we might only move forward marginally, we’re still moving. The direction may change often, even daily but the key is to get the momentum happening.
So what is the key to managing uncertainty?
We must be communicating with all of our employees often. Why? Because it empowers others to be able to make decisions for their careers and lives – good or bad. The worst possible thing that you could do for your employees right now is to leave them wondering what is going to happen. This creates a vacuum that they then try to fill with assumption and guesses, most of which may be completely off base and cause unnecessary anxiety.
So whilst none of us have a crystal ball (if only!), we need to be communicating to our team with:
- Clarity – honest and transparent communication about the state of play and your plans as far as you can communicate them and translate this to what this means for your employees.
- Consistency – Communicate often. In times like these weekly communication isn’t enough. The more the better ensuring your communication is relevant and adding value.
- Constancy – Ensure there is constancy to your information unless something has changed. Back up any verbal communication with written communication especially when it’s involving a change in plans.
- Connection – Everyone handles things differently and whilst you are delivering communication broadly across the business, it’s also importantly to understand your team individually and what they need to feel empowered and enabled.
The above takes time and courage but the power of this can’t be underestimated because what you are doing by communicating in this way is building trust with your team. This is crucial for any organisation to be able to move forward with any sort of positive momentum and team conradery as we transition into our ‘what’s next’.