How to Manage Your Team in Times of Uncertainty

It’s not just death and taxes that are permanent in this world: so is change — and at no time has it been as fast, disruptive, and all-encompassing as in the 21st century. The experts warn that it will not be slowing down any time soon; in fact, continuing breakthroughs in pioneering technology like AI, genetics, and IoT will trigger ripples of transformation that will touch every aspect of our daily life. The turnover will also be very, very fast, with new science, processes, and business models replacing new ones. Today’s trend is tomorrow’s obsolete model. The rapidity by which one tech discovery will build on another, with a convergence that will spill over into other industries, has been called ‘exponential.’

With change comes uncertainty, which is something that not a lot of people have an easy time adjusting to. No matter how difficult they may be, many of us can take the bad news; it’s the uncertainty that kills us. Loss that is financial, professional, or personal may be devastating, but we can deal with it in some form or another after the dust has settled. Uncertainty is like the tremors of an earthquake; not knowing when and where the next one will hit leaves us on vulnerable, shaky ground.

Just check the news today. World-changing events seem to be challenging the foundation of everything we had thought to be rock solid. Terrorist events too close to home. Once strong international alliances of nation splintering.  It’s a far changeable world than the one we lived in ten years ago.

As a global mobility specialist, you don’t want uncertainty paralyzing your team and stopping them from giving their best. You want them to be at the top of their game, especially when the next stock market fluctuation throws a monkey wrench into your long-term strategies. You want them to be pillars of stability as everything becomes unstable, like staunch sailors on board a sturdy vessel braving rough waters.

To bring that about, you must also play your role of stalwart captain. You must be the bedrock of certainty that they can look up to when things turn tough.  The confidence has to start with you. It has to radiate from your every word, and shine from your demeanor. You must be able to inspire trust from your men.

Trust starts with honesty. You can’t protect your team from cushioning them from the harsh realities. Telling them the hard truth, like the possibility of layoffs, will prepare them in case the worst does happen; at the same time, it will build on the respect they have for you. If there are certain things that you are not authorized to share with them, then be straightforward with it as well.

Meet regularly and come up with solutions to situations. Your presence in the “battlefield” will give the leadership your team needs. Without becoming too intrusive or overbearing, meet regularly in order to find out problem areas that have to be addressed before they worsen. Encourage your team to suggest ways to amend the problem. Making them contribute empowers them and allows them to shake off feelings of insecurity and helplessness. As much as possible, forego online chat sessions and make the meetings personal. Face-to-face interaction goes a long way in boosting morale. As one this blog points out, genuine live conversation also strengthens the interpersonal connections that make a team act as one.

Learn together and come up with innovations as a team. Recognizing that there is a problem will make your team band together. Leading them to come up with the solution to address it is one step toward making them a strong united force. Your staff must learn to confront the hardest questions, open their minds to out-of-the-box approaches, and keep testing every answer until you get the right one. In an age of uncertainty, developing the spirit of adaptability is the key to riding the crest of change, and not being engulfed by it.