There’s a great deal of uncertainty in the world today, some of which directly (or indirectly) affects the businesses you lead. Political, financial, cultural and religious upheavals generate what seems like a unceasing state of insecurity, which can trickle down to your workforce and influence how they perform in the workplace.
Of course, many national and international developments have no direct relationship to your business. But, in fact, we’re all influenced by events, especially those that relate to the companies for which we work. So it’s crucially important that CEOs and business leaders know how to lessen the impact of uncertainty and keep employee morale and productivity as high as possible.
In uncertain times, leadership is what enables some businesses to move forward while others fall behind. Here are tips to help keep your teams productive and motivated:
Think positive, act positive. Regardless of your personal convictions, a leader’s responsibility is to behave in a positive manner at all times. Leaders “cannot buckle under pressure or panic,” notes Business2Community, adding that employees “need to be assured that their leader is going to stay strong, brim with confidence and radiative positivity throughout the organization.”
No one says this is easy, but it’s absolutely necessary in today’s world.
Acknowledge that uncertainty exists. Some leaders mistakenly avoid any mention of controversy or uncertainty in their employee communications. This approach only serves to heighten concern, since it appears the CEO or president is “out of touch” with what’s going on. Employees want to know their leader is aware of difficulties both inside and outside of the workplace and, just as importantly, has a plan to cope with that uncertainty (as it relates to the business).
Be visible throughout the organization. There’s little as demoralizing to employees as never seeing their leaders out and about, especially during tumultuous times. Being visible and engaged gives you a “strong understanding of how the uncertainty may be disrupting performance, attitudes, etc.,” notes Forbes. The experience also offers you insights into “what you need to do to step up your game and deliver what is required to ensure you never lose touch with what matters to them.”
Celebrate small achievements. Morale gets boosted when employees learn about (or participate in) projects and initiatives that achieve even limited goals. Take every opportunity to celebrate a minor achievement, so people feel like progress is being made, even during difficult times. (Of course, a big sale or successful product upgrade, for example, should get a lot of companywide notice.) Small wins indicate forward progress, which serves everyone’s interest.
Stay in touch with all of your constituents. A leader should never stop listening to what his or her constituents have to say. Can you implement a reasonable open-door policy in your company—a way for employees to “stop by” and share concerns or, more positively, ideas for helping the business thrive? Let them know you share their concerns and that your #1 priority is injecting certainty into their everyday lives.
Be honest. Being a leader in business isn’t the same as being a leader in government or some other venue. You’ve earned the trust of your employees. Don’t blow it by obviously neglecting the facts of a situation or otherwise papering over serious issues that everyone is dealing with. It’s not necessary to have all the answers, but it’s crucial to project an air of honesty and transparency, as much as possible.
In today’s marketplace, it’s safe to assume that uncertainty will remain part of our daily lives for a long time to come. Business leaders should understand this and act accordingly.
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