How to Lead Through Change and Uncertainty

Introducing ‘Five Reasons to Raise Our Human Game’, our latest series of articles outlining the top five people challenges of 2024 identified in our exclusive research. 

As businesses continue to face ongoing transformation and unpredictable challenges, it is essential to look at how human connection serves as an antidote to prevalent issues affecting workplaces across the country. 

Change and uncertainty have become constant drivers for diminished performance and issues like burnout, loneliness, and low engagement. 

In this instalment, we delve into the critical strategies necessary for navigating change and uncertainty in the workplace, equipping businesses with the ability to build resilient and adaptable team environments where employees can thrive and protect their mental wellbeing.

Understanding Change and Uncertainty

Change and uncertainty have become inherent in business environments, driven by factors, such as technological advancements, market fluctuations, and wider economic influences. However, these challenges can disrupt workflows, create stress, and hinder productivity if not managed effectively. 

Despite 40% of companies in the UK shifting to a hybrid working model, employers are still grappling with how to nurture company culture back to pre-pandemic levels. Many investments to improve collaboration and introduce comprehensive working tools have seen diminishing returns when it comes to productivity and employee engagement. 

By empowering employees to collaborate and equipping them with the necessary human skills and tools to manage themselves more efficiently, managers are better equipped to lead the workplace through tense periods of change and uncertainty. It also enables managers to feel more confident and able to navigate difficult situations and conversations, leading with empathy, compassion, and trust.

The Business Case for Adaptability

Leaders need to exercise caution and understand how to strategically introduce changes to drive and support employee engagement. This follows as a study found the average employee encountered ten changes to the workplace in 2022, a large jump from just two changes in 2016. 

Resultantly, employee support for changes has since taken a nosedive, decreasing from 76% to 44% within a year. Mainly, employees have become resistant to change after feeling like they are being overloaded with work or from concerns stemming from job insecurity.

Notably, changes can bring new processes, systems, or ways of working that challenge set habits and expectations, potentially leading to a loss of autonomy and control over workloads. This can be particularly challenging for high-performing team members who have a strong sense of ownership of their work.  

Although change can be an uncomfortable and tricky situation to deal with, change can be a necessary driver for innovation and growth. Investing in resilience and adaptability is not just a matter of protecting employees’ wellbeing; it’s also a sound business strategy. 

For instance, 72% of senior management state that their culture has a facilitating role in the successful implementation of change initiatives. Businesses are better equipped to navigate change, innovate, and maintain competitive advantages. Additionally, teams are more likely to demonstrate higher productivity, employee engagement, and retention.

How to Build Resilient and Adaptable Teams

Lead by Example

Leaders play the biggest role in modelling resilience and adaptability. When employees trust their leaders, they are far less inclined to consider quitting, with greater confidence in their leadership’s ability to implement changes and more support for wider company decisions. Data shows that leaders and managers bear responsibility for 70% of employee motivation and satisfaction. 

Therefore, leaders and managers need to actively demonstrate transparency, positivity, and flexibility in their leadership styles. By being proactive in addressing challenges and uncertainties head-on, leaders can communicate openly about changes and provide guidance and reassurance to help employees adjust and adapt. 

This can mean nurturing social, empathy, and emotional intelligence skills, as a great leader will work alongside their teams to demonstrate the standards and actions they would like to see throughout the workplace. 

Promote Human Skills

Human skills are pivotal in times of change and uncertainty, with communication, empathy, and collaboration essential for building resilience and adaptability in teams. In doing so, leaders can drive employees to navigate change and uncertainty effectively by building relationships grounded in trust, communication, and empathy. 

Effective communication is fundamental to fostering understanding, transparency, and trust, and in times of change, communication helps employees to stay informed, aligned, and engaged. By promoting communication skills, leaders can facilitate open dialogue and encourage feedback, creating an environment where employees feel valued and able to raise any concerns or questions. 

During uncertain times, empathy also plays a vital role in reassuring employees who may be concerned about their workloads or job security. By showing empathy, leaders acknowledge the challenges and concerns of their people and can successfully validate their experiences. In that way, they are able to offer the right support and reassurance to foster psychological safety and belonging. This, in turn, encourages employees to feel more resilient and comfortable facing changes. 

Encourage a Growth Mindset 

Employees need to rely on a culture where change is an opportunity for growth and learning. By encouraging your people to embrace challenges and cultivate a mindset of resilience and adaptability, employees can build from their experiences and navigate through challenging times. 

Leaders and managers should look to develop growth mindsets by openly acknowledging failures as learning opportunities, celebrating achievements and progress, and enabling open communication around changes. 

They should seek to provide access to comprehensive training programmes, workshops, and resources to help employees build their skills and enhance agility. Leaders should also develop clear communication around any changes being introduced, hosting informal meetings and team check-ins to ensure new processes or ways of working have been understood and gaining any feedback and learnings from it. 

Place Trust in Your Team

Leaders must be able to effectively communicate the company’s vision, values and overall goals to their team members, helping each employee to recognise the part they play in the company’s overall success. By providing clarity on the company’s purpose and direction, leaders can ensure alignment and motivation across teams. 

However, each employee will have different experiences, expertise, and ways of working, which is why it is crucial employers maintain trust throughout periods of uncertainty and change. Moreover, leaders should actively encourage diversity of thought and perspectives, so that all voices are heard and appreciated and ensure that changes are effective for a diverse workforce

Instead, leaders should look to present avenues for support and advice, encourage mindful practices that look after wellbeing, and continue to communicate effectively with updates and guidance.

Raise Your Human Game with POINT3 Wellbeing

Join us on our mission to empower businesses to build healthy and high-performing teams through the power of human connection. Together, we can develop solutions to address the many challenges employees face, so they can excel at work and safeguard their health and wellbeing. 

At POINT3 Wellbeing, we are committed to making a significant difference in your organisation’s success by prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of your workplace. As an impact-led employee wellbeing agency, we collaborate directly with people and businesses to deliver tailored solutions that foster a supportive and resilient work environment.Our innovative human skills approach is tailored to providing training and support that motivates, educates, and energises employees. Get in touch today to discover how you can Raise Your Human Game.