Managing Uncertainty

Managing Uncertainty

We work and operate in difficult, challenging and uncertain times. In the wider, macro-environment there are huge political economic and social changes taking place. Within the organisations that we know and work for the same is true – there have never been such times where what we know and have trusted over many years is being called into question.

While all this uncertainty is around it threatens our best-made plans to strive towards effectiveness and efficiency and, ultimately, the success of the business.

The only way we can manage our way out of this mess is to seek clarity but this is very hard to achieve even at the relatively simple level of clarity around job roles and our individual responsibilities. This hoovers up huge amounts of practical and operational times and resources.

There are several Uncertainty Traps to consider and look out for:

  1. Is your communication style as effective as it could be? Making sure that you use simple, evaluative language will work to make sure that confusion and uncertainty around tasks and the receipt of information goes as smoothly as possible.
  2. Ask as many questions as possible? Good use of Why? What? When? And How? Are all essential tools here. Being curious and asking clarification are ways in which to cut through Uncertainty to get to the heart of the matter.
  3. However good you are at your job, you do not know it all! Asking questions and finding out information will help you to get a full picture of what is going on and what is likely to happen on the sort to medium term. Talking to a wider circle of contacts is also very important here.
  4. Recognise your own bias. We all have a bias on any subject and this often gets in the way of seeking out critical information and a clear way to deal with issues. Any bias will always be an unreliable and untrustworthy means of planning and decision making.
  5. The sheer number of tasks and weight of responsibility means there is very little time to sit and consider what is going on and to take a view on key issues. Since we are not fully in charge of our own time management this means that issues and challenges go unanswered or unconsidered by staff at all levels within an organisation.
  6. Irrational fear of seeking clarity. Would we rather not ask the difficult questions that need to be asked and just continue to muddle along with our incomplete picture, for fear of what we might uncover? The problem or issue that you are avoiding is still there in the background, regardless of whether you seek clarity and understanding around it.

Challenging and unpicking uncertainty, and gaining clarity on key topics, is very hard work but done correctly it can be a productive and liberating approach to your role and the wider organisational context.

Good Luck!

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