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Leading Your Team Through Uncertainty

by Dr. Vesna Grubacevic

Whether it be increased competition, internal restructure, changes in government policy, the economic environment, unstable weather or any other uncertainty, in uncertain times people and teams look for certainty, direction and leadership.   They turn to business owners and mangers to create certainty for them and to give them a future direction to be enthused about.   In the absence of such certainty and clarity, there is a vacuum waiting to be filled.   When a vacuum exists, if the key influencers are negative media reports or negative people, it simply breeds more negativity, uncertainty and team morale can worsen.

7 Ways to Lead and Create Certainty 

Entrepreneurs are great leaders of themselves and others.  Whether their team is comprised of employees, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, agents, customers, referral or business partners, they know how to create certainty in the most uncertain times.  Here are 7 effective ways to lead with certainty.

1. It all starts with you!  If you as a business owner or manager are negative, uncertain or doubtful about the future of your business, this will be reflected in your behaviour (eg. being indecisive).  In turn, this will create uncertainty in yourself and your team and will set a negative example for your team.  The first thing you need to do is to shift your focus from doom and gloom to opportunity and possibility.  An effective technique to do that is detailed in my article “How to Stop the Doom and Gloom and Refocus on Growing Your Business”.

2. Reignite your passion for the business.  Take an hour out of your week to revisit your vision, mission and key strategic objectives for the year ahead.  If you have never thought about, clarified or written these down, now is the perfect time to get that clarity and passion.  When you are truly passionate about what you do, you and your team will be more inspired to perform and any challenge will simply be an opportunity to create, innovate or re-invent (rather than an obstacle).

3. Engage your team in your vision.  Treat your team to a vision session away from the office in an environment that will encourage ideas and creativity.  It could be a fun picnic in a nearby park or at the local beach (or similar).  Choose a quiet time during a pleasant day.  Bring coloured markers, stick it notes, paper, etc. with you.  Circulate the vision, mission and key strategic objectives prior to the session to get people focused and thinking.  At the session, encourage brainstorming as to how best to achieve your vision and mission and key strategic objectives for the year.  If you are the sole trader in the business, have the session with yourself in a similar creative environment.  You may surprise yourself with the ideas you come up with.

4.  Clarify your goals and targets.  Once you and your team agree the best ways to achieve your vision, mission and key strategic objectives, ensure you and your team then have clear goals and targets that support the achievement of these.  Remember once you and your team achieve a goal, reward yourselves, celebrate and then set more goals to keep yourself and your team focused and motivated.  Without goals to motivate us, we become directionless, uncertain and can be more easily distracted by other people’s projects, negativity and demands.

5.  Avoid negative influences that distract you and your team from your goals.  Stop watching and reading the news, it thrives on negativity and panic.  Some organisations have banned newspapers and TV at the workplace because they have decided to take charge of their business.  As a result, the workplace has become a much more positive environment for their employees, their businesses have continued to grow, and they have retained their staff.  Create a “can do” policy in your business.  Again, show leadership rather than follow the herd!

6.  Keep the focus on income generation.   Regardless of the economic environment, lack of sufficient cash flow is the major reason for business failure.  Ensure that you and your team have clear income generation targets and that your and their time is sufficiently focused on income generation.  Taking enough action on income generating activities will help you to create greater certainty in your cash flow, the future of your business and within your team.

7.  Get your team involved in creating certainty.  Encourage your team to generate ideas, to innovate and create greater certainty for the future of the business.  Remember to reward this positive behaviour.  You could run a fun competition with your team, where the person who has the best idea that then generates most income for the business, receives a special reward.  If the winning idea generates an additional $5,000 for your business, and the reward is valued at $100 or even $500, what a great return on your investment!

If you want your business to thrive over the long term, create greater certainty within yourself and assist your team to do the same.  Remember that the best way to predict the future for your business is to create it yourself!

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