As I watch the unfolding drama of the Coronavirus pandemic and the impact of the Global Lockdown I am reminded of the turmoil, fear, and stress that comes from uncertainty and the damage that it can cause on morale and the anxiety that it can create.
Here are seven tips to help bring order to chaos.
1 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Don’t bullshit people; they can spot bullshit a mile away, and it undermines your credibility.
Tell people what you know.
In uncertain times people need information, without information, it just increases anxiety and stress, neither of which is of benefit to them or the leader.
Tell them what you don’t know.
Be honest, if you don’t know something tell them, otherwise people will think you are withholding information, or worse still they may hold back something they know, which you don’t.
Tell them when you will know.
For those things that you don’t know, provide a timeline for when you think you will know. Knowing when the uncertainty will end can reduce the level of uncertainty and the associated stress levels.
2 Explain Your Plan
As a leader, it is expected that you will come up with a plan.
Tell people what your plan is, explain why you are making the decisions you are making. If they are logical, you will get buy-in, if not you will get questions.
Transparency breeds trust and in uncertain times, trust is a great commodity to have.
3 Ask For Input
As leaders, we are not expected to have all the answers or all the ideas, but we are expected to identify the best plan, based on all of the information available.
Without asking for input, we can potentially miss out on vital information, or even a potentially better or simpler solution.
It also gives the opportunity to be involved which can reduce the sense of powerlessness which can come with uncertainty.
4 Be Flexible and Adaptive
In uncertain times it’s possible that new information will arrive that will challenge our plan, or present a better solution. We need to keep an open mind, and not just stick to the first plan as a way of increasing certainty.
We need to be flexible and be able to adopt better solutions as they arise. Our goal should be to keep moving forward and at the best pace possible, not just sticking to the plan.
5 Be Positive
Confidence in the leader is crucial during times of uncertainty.
Our teams may not know what the solution is, but they need to be certain that they have someone who will both define the way forward and achieve it. As leaders we need to project confidence, to help build that trust.
I always remember the Robert Louis Stephenson quote “Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.” as I think this is great advice.
6 Create Small Wins
Identify small wins that the team can achieve quickly and easily.
These quick wins need to be meaningful and celebrated, as that will help to boost confidence, increase morale, and create momentum.
7 Be Visible and Stay Engaged
In times of uncertainty, the leader is the rock to which people cling, it gives them hope and confidence, but this can be diminished very quickly if the leader is absent for lengthy periods, as doubt and uncertainty will increase.
We need to be visible, positive, and engaged, to keep morale and motivation moving in the right direction.
Leading in times of uncertainty can be difficult, but we need to remember it can be even more difficult for our teams, and they are looking for us to guide them and lead them to success.