"If there is one thing that is certain in business, it is uncertainty." Stephen Covey.
Anytime we make changes in our lives, at home, or in the workplace, we experience uncertainty. Take for example the turmoil we are all facing with diseases, low milk prices, low corn prices, and immigration. In addition, we have changes related to ownership, leadership, emergencies, injuries, and death. It is enough to make even the strongest people feel apprehension, concern and confusion.
Uncertainty affects every person on your team, not just the owners and leaders. When change occurs, whether planned or unplanned, it can alter personalities, affect daily work, and influence behavior. When owners and employees feel unpredictability and doubt it can cause chaos within your business.
As a leader, there are steps you can take to eliminate some of the unnecessary uncertainty and create more stability.
- Communicate often. The less information people have, the more emotional and erratic they become. Allow your employees to ask questions; consider hosting Q & A sessions for every member of your team. Explain what is changing and what is not changing as it pertains to the situation. Assist your teams with understanding the situation, how you will work together to manage the change, and explain how they can be part of the solution.
- Be clear in your message. Don't muddle your words and give mixed signals. If you create more confusion your employees will feel additional uncertainty. Make sure everyone on the leadership team is giving the exact message to employees, vendors and even spouses.
- Remain positive. As a leader, your employees will look to you and follow your lead. If you are positive, your team will feel more positive about the change.
- Plan for unexpected employee changes. Managers and key employees should create and maintain a detailed description of their daily, weekly and random duties they must complete. This list should include current and future goals as well as the present issues they are facing. This information will prove to be extremely beneficial for the team members who must fill in or replace when an unplanned void opens.
- Cross-train employees. Incorporate cross-training to help eliminate the fear of not having trained personnel. Cross-training allows your teams to maneuver through change easier and makes it easier to work together.
To help your teams manage uncertainty, provide encouragement and empowerment at all levels. Be the person you want your employees to be!
In business and life, the only constant is change. The uncertainty that comes with change affects some people more than others and managing those stresses is part of great leaders. Many people can lead when everything is going well, but the true test of leadership is during hard times. Be deliberate in your actions, messages and above all stay positive. Fear is contagious but so is great leadership in the face of change.