CEO Series: Managing Your Business During Times of Uncertainty


Performing at your peak during uncertain times is no easy task. When what worked before won’t necessarily work going forward, and when no one knows what tomorrow will bring, decisive action and decision-making is an all-new frontier. But although COVID-19 may have thrown a wrench in your business plans, it doesn’t have to mess with your management style.

Here’s how to move forward in a positive way so that your team – and business – can emerge from the uncertainty better than ever.

Be Empathetic and Supportive

Uncertainty can do a number on your team’s stress levels. When the path forward isn’t clear, they’re probably struggling with anxiety, negative self-talk, and a loss of control. As a manager, you can help rein in these stressors by offering positive leadership and support. Check-in individually with your team members to see how they’re coping, let them know that you’re there to help if they need it and direct them to external resources if they need it. You can also help support your team as a whole by offering words of encouragement, redirecting spiraling conversations, and showing your appreciation for their efforts. Lead by empathetic, supportive example, and your team will follow. But whatever you do, don’t be the silent, stoic type. People want to know where they stand, so make sure you communicate it to them. (That said, don’t forget to listen.)

Offer Clarity Around Tasks and Roles

With the shape of our workforce changing by the day, chances are that your team has experienced personnel changes or cuts. On top of that, many workers are juggling both work and childcare and may require a reassignment of some duties or hours. Ensure that each team member knows what’s expected of them during this time, as well as what their tasks and responsibilities are. If you can set clear expectations around output, performance, and workplace behaviors, your team will have something to align their efforts against. Tip: for best success, dial in your team members’ responsibilities to a handful of the core, high-value tasks. The “nice to have” duties can wait.

Focus On What You Can Control

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that the world can change on a dime. Rather than setting blue-sky objectives, focusing on future outcomes or fixating on metrics that move with the market, stick to what you can actually control. Show up, set small goals, celebrate the incremental wins, focus on your interpersonal relationships, and think local rather than global. You’ll have far more success – and the confidence boost you’ll get will spur you on to bigger and better things. If things are so uncertain that even “doing” is out of the question, try learning instead. You’ll be able to apply your new knowledge when life kicks back into gear.

It’s a Brave New World In Here

Things have changed dramatically over the past few months, and we’re bound to see further changes as the world gradually reopens. For now, the only thing that’s certain is that uncertainty is here to stay. By communicating with your team, clarifying what you need for them, and focusing on actionable outcomes, you can help lead the way forward so that your brand is ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

See Also:

4 Snap-Happy Activities for Virtual Team Building

Overcome the Challenges of Managing Remote Teams

Does Your Business Have Agility?

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