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28th February 2024

Managing Uncertainty and Change in the Workplace

Managing Uncertainty and Change in the Workplace

During periods of change, it’s normal for feelings of uncertainty to manifest in the workplace. In the last few years, the working world has had to continuously adapt in response to significant challenges; such as COVID-19, staff shortages, the socioeconomic climate and the development of technologies that redefine the ways we work.

Adapting to these challenges has had positive outcomes, such as the increased accessibility and benefits associated with working from home. However, it has also led to many of us experiencing high levels of uncertainty, the negative effects of which include:

  • Increased stress and anxiety
  • Decreased productivity
  • Decreased job satisfaction
  • Reduced confidence in decision-making, due to fear of negative consequences

By developing strategies that enable us to navigate ambiguity with confidence and clarity, we can better equip ourselves to respond to evolving challenges and provide a support to those around us.

Comfort and Control

Although change can be uncomfortable, it’s important to recognise that challenges are necessary for growth. Periods of change and uncertainty provide an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, learn new skills, and develop adaptability to the ever-changing working world. These are all essential elements of personal and professional growth.

Research also suggests that a healthy level of stress can positively affect our wellbeing and productivity and put us in a state of ‘peak performance’. However, going beyond that point can lead to negative effects such as fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and eventually burnout, as shown on the Yerkes-Dodson Stress Curve model below.

Managing stress and change

The Role of the Leader

In times of change, employees often look to their leaders for guidance and direction. The behaviours exhibited by leaders during periods of uncertainty can significantly impact the resilience of their team. Therefore, it is crucial for leaders to become ‘bolsterers’ by engaging in activities that promote the well-being, resilience, motivation, and productivity of their team.

Leaders can adopt several behaviours to support their teams effectively, the most important of which are to:

  1. Ensure they are fully present and make time to meet with team members
  2. Become aware of individual support needs and understand what each person requires
  3. Provide clarity by having regular meetings and sharing updates with the team
  4. Focus on compassion and show empathy to individuals who are struggling with the change
  5. Get everyone involved in the process to drive success and inspire teams to achieve greatness

Leaders have an immense opportunity to inspire their teams during times of change. When they exhibit behaviours that promote well-being, resilience, motivation, and productivity, they create a sense of unity that can help the team thrive.

Managing change and uncertainty


How can Impact help you?

In our response to support those facing the challenges of dealing with uncertainty in the forever-changing working world, we have recently launched our Managing Uncertainty at Work training offer. It is aimed at supporting individuals to identify how to deal with uncertainty, and also lead others through uncertainty. Follow this link for more information: Managing Uncertainty at Work