Extractive summaries and key takeaways from the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision-making | Week 305 | July 14-20, 2023
How to Support Your Team When Uncertainty Is High
During turbulent times, managers can take steps to help their direct reports feel more empowered, even when their control is limited.
By Liz Fosslien | MIT Sloan Management Review | July 12, 2023
A large number of leaders are facing followers who are uncertain about their future. When uncertainty is high, managers should aim to make work a place of stability rather than another source of stress. The most effective managers clearly communicate that they care about the people on their team. How can you offer assurance when a lot of big decisions — and broader economic conditions — are outside of your control? It may seem almost impossible, but it’s not. Seven ways managers can support their teams during turbulent times without making promises they can’t keep are:
- Help each employee work toward their dream job. You can’t always guarantee someone a promotion (or, unfortunately, even job stability), but you can commit to giving your employees the kinds of valuable learning opportunities that will help them no matter what comes next. It can also be useful to make career chats a habit. Every six weeks, schedule 30 minutes with each of your reports to ask questions like these: What kinds of projects or tasks do you enjoy most? Are there skills you’re looking to grow in the future? Make it a point to create or offer them relevant opportunities based on these conversations.
- Cocreate a medium-term mission with your team. When faced with uncertainty or frequently shifting priorities, we often feel stuck or like we have little to show for all the effort we’re putting in. This sense of helplessness can lead to apathy and disengagement. To reenergize your team members, bring them together to define and work toward a shared three-month goal.
- Help your team achieve wins within two weeks. Quickly boost your team members’ sense of progress by focusing them on what they can control and giving each of them a specific task they can cross off within a week or two. Start by dividing your medium-term mission or longer-term goals into mini-milestones, and track and celebrate each one as it’s achieved.
- Create clarity when you can. Thoughtful explanations in tough situations are critical to earning trust and reducing anxiety. The next time you have an update to share, prepare to walk through the story of how the decision was made, and think through any concerns or questions that might come up. When you do share the decision with your team members, encourage them to ask clarifying questions.
- Provide context when you can’t create clarity. Managers tend to stay quiet until they can share a concrete decision. But a lack of communication is still a form of communication — and it usually breeds mistrust and gossip. To avoid misunderstandings, explain why you can’t offer more details, and aim to provide a timeline for when you expect to have more information.
- Encourage your team to benefit from benefits. Studies show that up to 80% of employees are confused about the benefits their company provides. When budgets shrink, it can be an uphill battle to design and fund new ways to support your team. Review your company handbook, or schedule a quick meeting with HR for a refresher. In an upcoming team meeting, give a brief overview of your organization’s benefits, and encourage your team members to take full advantage of them.
- Help your team say no. Preserve your team’s mental health by stepping in to protect their time. Set clear and reasonable expectations, and back your reports when they turn down non-urgent requests.
3 key takeaways from the article
- A large number of leaders are facing followers who are uncertain about their future. When uncertainty is high, managers should aim to make work a place of stability rather than another source of stress. The most effective managers clearly communicate that they care about the people on their team.
- How can you offer assurance when a lot of big decisions — and broader economic conditions — are outside of your control? It may seem almost impossible, but it’s not.
- Seven ways managers can support their teams during turbulent times without making promises they can’t keep are: help each employee work toward their dream job, cocreate a medium-term mission with your team, help your team achieve wins within two weeks, create clarity when you can, provide context when you can’t create clarity, encourage your team to benefit from benefits, and help your team to say no.
Topics: Leadership, Team Management, Uncertainty, Motivation