Uncertainty affects all levels of an organization. When a situation is in flux, it may be difficult for managers to give clear instructions. Employees may be confused about how to resolve problems or meet customer needs.
If uncertainty is creating indecision, causing mistakes, or generating conflict, these steps may help:
- Define the problem. Are you waiting for information to implement a change, or is your team dependent on tasks that must be performed by other departments or vendors? Find out what updates can be shared with your team.
- Consult with Human Resources. While you may not be able to resolve an uncertain situation, you can help your team cope with their reactions to it. Talk to Human Resources about options for helping your team manage difficulties.
- Schedule a team meeting. Sit down with your team to discuss the situation. If individual employees are particularly affected by the uncertainty or seem to be struggling more, consider setting up a private meeting. Sample language: “I realize things are in flux right now. Let’s talk about ways to make the situation more manageable.”
- Solicit ideas. Ask your team for suggestions on improving the situation. Remember that “off the wall” ideas may be a gateway to innovative solutions to workplace challenges. Sample language: “Please send me your ideas for addressing the challenges we’re facing. Wild ideas are totally acceptable.”
- Address performance concerns. Behaviors you may notice include frequent mistakes, lashing out at others, tardiness, or lack of attention to detail. Many of these behaviors may be a product of frustration or anger about the uncertainty. Sample language: “I’ve noticed some changes in your behavior lately. (List concerns). I’d like to get your performance back on track.”
- Make a referral to LifeMatters. Uncertainty at work may make a difficult personal situation more stressful. If the employee mentions that they have been struggling, remind them that LifeMatters is available to help. If performance concerns persist or the employee has violated company policy, talk to HR and LifeMatters about making a performance referral. Consult with HR before taking any disciplinary action. Sample language: “LifeMatters can help you address any personal issues and help with managing stress. I hope you’ll call.”
- Follow up. Check in periodically with employees who have been struggling. Review any performance improvements and offer feedback. In addition, schedule periodic meetings with your full team to discuss how the transition is going and address new concerns. Sample language: “How have things been going? Please tell me what is working and what could be improved.”