When the Future Is Unclear
The entire world has had to adjust to new levels of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. What we used to consider “normal” has completely changed and the future continues to be unclear. And yet we have to continue our lives in as thoughtful and steady a way as possible. We have to find a way to help employees through ambiguity.
How the Brain Reacts to Ambiguity
Human nature evolved while life was mostly predictable. Our brains became increasingly skilled at recognizing patterns and developing behaviors that accommodated them. When circumstances reflect predictable designs, we are comfortable. But when things become less predictable and we are less able to control them, we feel threatened. We are less motivated, less able to focus, less driven by purpose, and we suffer from a sense of loss of well-being.
Because our brains did not evolve to handle uncertainty well, we become less capable overall. What does this mean for those of us in the working world?
Strategies for Dealing with Ambiguity
Not knowing what comes next is certainly challenging. But the story need not end with decreased engagement and a diminished ability to make decisions. In fact, there are employee engagement follow-up strategies we can adopt that help us manage uncertainty in a positive and productive way.
- Be Realistically Positive
Though the path ahead may not be easy, the belief that everything will work out fine helps you stay motivated. Have confidence that, if you hang in there with realistically positive expectations, the future will be better than the present.
- Think Big Picture
Don’t get stuck in the weeds of indecision and ambiguity; instead, look at the larger purpose of what we do and why we do it. This kind of big picture thinking helps you stay focused on what matters most. You’ll be more inspired and motivated and will find you are better able to solve problems and stay resilient when facing challenges.
- Foster More Honest Communication
Work with your team to prioritize a culture of employee feedback and more open conversations about what is working and what is not. The risk of offending someone is less damaging than the consequences of operating in an environment where honest feelings are not shared, and suspicions and rumors abound. Direct, straightforward communication leavened with a dose of empathy supports a culture where team members truly work and solve problems together.
The Bottom Line
Face it. There will always be uncertainty. But when you can help your employees adopt a more optimistic outlook, broaden their perspective, and communicate more openly, you help them shift from the paralysis caused by ambiguity to a strategy that gets the job done.
To learn more about how to better engage your top talent, download Top 6 Forces Driving Employee Engagement and Strategies to Move the Engagement Needle