Work Smarter – Not Harder

How to Improve Engagement of Your Team During Uncertain Times

No one in this world loves being uncertain. Whether it’s a reorganization at your business or political turmoil your employees will be concerned about their careers and future. What should you do as a manager? How can you keep your employees focused while helping them cope with ambiguity?

Advice from the experts

The majority of us feel anxious, overwhelmed, and upset when we are uncertain. During uncertain times, we are likely to get distracted from doing our work. And this leads to anxiety. Similar to positive emotions, negative emotions are contagious. One negative employee can cast a shadow of darkness in the workplace. And this will affect even the most positive employee.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to look after your team. You need to help your people stay focused and optimistic even if the office or the world communicates the opposite. Here are a few simple and practical ways for you to help your team.

1. It all starts with you

You cannot give what you don’t have. You’ll always attract what you think about most of the time. If you can’t stop thinking about the hard times that your business is going through, it’s likely that most of your employees follow you in this line of thought.

You need to be optimistic and at peace with yourself to support your team during uncertain times. Take your time every day to think and reflect. Ask yourself: Is there something I’m not seeing here? What will I do differently next time? These questions will open up your mind and help you come up with better solutions. You’ll be surprised by how asking the right questions can change your thoughts and emotions.

2. Acknowledge uncertainty

If your employees start getting concerned about their future or jobs in the organization, don’t continue doing as usual. These experiences should not be denied, ignored, or repressed.

Even if you want your employees to stay focused, bottling your emotions, and expecting your employees to follow suit is dangerous. Instead of avoiding these issues, you need to confront them. As a leader, you shouldn’t be brooding when things get tough. Acknowledge how you and your team are feeling and come up with a plan.

3. Focus on what you can control

In today’s world, the majority of us get stressed and frustrated because we focus on the things that we can’t control. There are a lot of things that you can do right now to achieve your goals. At the end of the day, you choose what you want to think about and feel even if a lot of your strength has been taken away.

Help your employees clarify what really matters to them. Once they know their priorities, they can easily focus on what they can control. When you do this, your team will stay grounded and reaffirm a sense of purpose.

4. Make calculated decisions

Every employee loves a boss who can make decisions quickly and effectively. Especially during uncertain times. Major changes such as sick leave, remote work schedules, and adjusted attendance management for parents with children at home are all important aspects that you should think about and make sound decisions. It will be great if you share your decisions before your employees approach you.

According to Forbes magazine, pandemics reveal the character of a leader. Leaders should always be honest with their employees. This means that they shouldn’t make promises that they can’t keep. Sticking to the facts pays off in spades in the long run.

Avoid making rash decisions due to the current instability. Instead, focus on the things you can do in the next few weeks or months.

5. Communicate now like never before

Silence is the number one killer of relationships, especially in the workplace. Leaders need to offer small updates even if you don’t have anything to report. Communicating regularly shows your team that they are a priority even during a crisis.

Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, you can communicate with your team using different effective media such as email, internal podcasts, Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp to name a few.  Your employee might be sitting there in his self-isolation preoccupied with family and financial troubles or health issues. Give them a channel to report these concerns or else their productivity may be running low. Let your team know that you are there to support them.

If you are a human resource manager who was interviewing for a new job before the pandemic, do not allow weeks or months to pass by without communicating with your candidates. Let them know that the organization is still functioning and set clear expectations. Assigning tasks and realistic time for individual employees can help them plan their resources ahead and feel more certain about their work.

6. Create new expectations

While it’s natural to want to stick to the norms and timeline established during the year, you need to extend a favor to everyone and evaluate your long term goals and expectations. A hardworking employee might be struggling to use an unfamiliar technology or solve countless problems at home.

Now is not the time to push your employees to deliver or work more hours. If employees are not performing as you expected, communicate with them, and create new expectations that will favor you and your team.

7. Emphasize the mission and vision

Employees need to be aware of the organization’s mission and vision and understand how they contribute to the bigger picture. Managers should ensure that employees understand their vital role in their team and organization as a whole. Times of uncertainty are also times of opportunity. Leaders should help their employees get things back on track. If they can understand their vital role, they’ll be more engaged and at ease.


While there are no simple solutions to managing employees during uncertain times, leaders should not retreat in the hope that their employees will figure out everything on their own. Now is the time to be a true leader and motivate your team to push through the hard times.

As was mentioned earlier, pandemics defines the character of a leader. You need to involve HR in the decision-making process to keep your employees engaged and motivated. When you empower your team, your organization will be efficient and effective in the long run. 


Leon Collier
Leon Collier is a freelance writer at college paper writing and from the UK, who loves to write about everything: pop-culture, travel, self-development, marketing. He enjoys reading and playing tabletop games on Saturday with his friends. Follow him on twitter @LeonCollier12.

Images: Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash


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