Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Navigating Uncertain Times: Strategies for Decision-Making Success and Employee Engagement

We live in uncertain times. The uncertainty of the future is a difficult challenge for leaders and team members alike.

Confidence is one of the most important things that an employee needs to be successful. Low confidence in one’s abilities can cause increased uncertainty in decision-making, uncertainty in execution of tasks, and uncertainty about whether the results are good enough. Studies show that low confidence can also lead to increased feelings of uncertainty, uncertainty in strengths and skills, uncertainty in the supervisor’s feedback, and uncertainty in performance expectations.

The American Psychological Association asserts that this uncertainty can lead to job insecurity, increased depression, and unproductive habits. Uncertainty leads to disengagement with work when employees feel that they do not have control and that they cannot predict what is going to happen next.

It is important for leaders to reduce uncertainty for both personal and professional reasons.

One way to help reduce uncertainty and increase confidence in employees is to give them the opportunity to participate in leadership and decision-making. Studies show that equity increases engagement and can also lead to increased productivity. Employees who feel like they have a voice and are involved in leadership decisions are more likely to be engaged with their work. In other words, when employees feel like their opinions matter, they are less likely to disengage from work.

Uncertainty is prevalent in today’s reality as the Delta variant (and the other 1133 Covid variants) remain risk factors.

It is important for leaders to have confidence in their ability to engage employees on a productive level.

There are three important steps for this:
1) Communicating a clear vision and a meaningful purpose for the organization’s work
2) Developing a sense of shared responsibility among employees so they feel vested in organizational goals
3) Understanding and sharing the values that guide the organization’s day-to-day work.

Leaders who would like to increase decision-making confidence with their teams can use these five strategies:

1) Build relationships with employees, so they feel secure and comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.

2) Create an environment where people are free to take risks without fear of failure or criticism.

3) Encourage brainstorming sessions where creativity is encouraged and innovation thrives.

4) Offer training that increases knowledge about tactics that work well during uncertainty periods as well as those that don’t work as effectively (or at all).

5) Provide additional training, educational, and other professional resources.

Focus team discussions on how you can help your employees achieve their own personal and professional goals, instead of just focusing on what you want them to do for the organization. Discuss your vision and goals with them. Take time to give people an explanation for why the new project is important and how it’s going to affect the business in a positive way, even if they won’t be directly involved in it.

More communication more often helps decrease uncertainty and increase both work satisfaction and productivity.



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