Uncertainty is scary. The unknown is scary. While there’s always uncertainty and the future is always unknown, a team I worked with recently has some pretty big anticipated hurdles coming up in about a year. The height of the hurdles is not clear, nor if there will be ground to land on when they leap over. They’re struggling not to fret. They’re struggling not to worry.
Needless to say, this impacts focus, productivity and morale.
The management team wanted to know – in the face of these uncertain times, how can we support our teams?
Here are four of the 14 recommendations I covered:
- Your team is a reflection of you – as the leader you can’t do chicken little. Emotions are contagious. If you’re freaking out, revving up, snowballing catastrophe, so will your team. Watch your language – what are you saying about the future? You should acknowledge the fear, you just don’t want to feed it. Acknowledging the fear lets your team know that you “get it” – you’re not clueless or in denial. This is part of sharing your humanity as a leader. Stay positive, not pessimistic or Pollyanna. If you need to unabashedly “release” your own worries, share your concerns with a comforting friend outside of your workplace.
- Remember: What you and your team are up to in the world TODAY is bigger than this fear. You can’t let the fear become a scapegoat for not getting the work done. There is work to be done today. You have clients who need you to show up 100% today. Focus on the top three strategic action items your team can accomplish this week towards your quarterly goals. Celebrate completion.
“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strengths.” Corrie Ten Boom
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” Charles Schultz
- What actually is known and unknown? Defining these two in simple high level bullets can be surprisingly empowering.
- The present
- We’re all in this together
- It’s not our first rodeo
- There’s work to do now
- We’re resilient and resourceful
- We’ll figure out when the time comes
- Our commitment and convictions
- What’s next
- The future
- What’s going to happen
- The weather two weeks from now
I have a roofing company client. 90% of their revenue is determined by Mother Nature. If there’s a storm, they make money. If there isn’t, they don’t. That’s uncertainty.
- Focus on what you can control. You can always control your response, attitude, behavior, words and actions. You can always choose to be proactive rather than paralyzed. In times of uncertainty, step up ownership of your authority. When the fog is thick, they want the leader to lead.
Don’t let uncertainty undermine you or your team’s efforts. Stay on course. Focus and finish on what needs to be accomplished now. Acknowledge the fear, but don’t feed it. Lastly, be courageous and confident in your convictions.
Need more info on how to deal with uncertain times (or even day-to-day workplace culture issues?) Check out Culture Works!