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Helping your team thrive in times of uncertainty

3 min read


Your team is looking to you for answers, but you don’t have many. There are a lot of moving parts, and more’s uncertain than certain. Perhaps your job’s affected and you’re dealing with your own angst.

Meanwhile the work must get done. After all, this could take a while, and suffering results will only make matters worse. How do you inspire confidence in the context of an uncertain future?

It’s not easy. But, acknowledging the uncertainty and helping your team work through it will save a lot of wasted time and emotional energy.

4 ways to help your team thrive in times of uncertainty

“Accepting that the world is full of uncertainty and ambiguity does not and should not stop people from being pretty sure about a lot of things.” ~ Julian Baggini

1. Keep your cool

If you must freak out, do it in private. In uncertain times, nothing will calm and inspire your team more than your “game on” attitude. If uncertainty makes your stomach turn like you just went zorbing, acknowledge that to yourself and go find a trusted advisor who finds change and ambiguity exhilarating to help you with your plan.

2. Share what you know

It’s easy to feel like everything is uncertain in times of uncertainty. That’s never true. Be crystal clear on what you do know, what’s not changing, and what your team can count on. Do your best to get as much information as possible, and make a case to be able to share it. When communication goes dark, the stupidity they’ll spin while staring at the ceiling at night is likely 17 times worse than the truth.

3. Envision alternative scenarios

When the future is uncertain, it’s easy to think, “Anything could happen.” That’s seldom true. More often the most probable scenarios can be boiled down to two or three. Brainstorm those possibilities and develop contingency plans. This exercise goes a long way in calming minds and spirits, while generating creative possibilities that could actually work across scenarios.

4. Don’t waffle

There is much that can still be accomplished during times of uncertainty. Focus your energy on what can be done and do it elegantly. When you make decisions, stop second-guessing them out loud. If you need to change course, do it boldly with strong communication and explanation. Otherwise, keep your boat sailing swiftly in the announced direction.

Most importantly, keep the team focused on showing up strong and doing the very best work each day. Nothing beats stress like success.

Your turn. How do you help your team focus during times of uncertainty?

Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and author of Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.  A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. Named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and as a Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business by Trust Across America, Karin improves business results through deeper trust & connection.

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