There is nothing more unsettling for most people than not knowing what is going to happen next. As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, what’s increasingly clear is that we are not returning to business-as-usual. With many companies still having staff on furlough and no clear timeline on when the economy is going to start to creep towards recovery, nothing is certain but uncertainty itself.
Uncertainty is nothing new, in fact in any and all businesses, it has a significant part to play. The most successful business leaders are those who know when to take a risk and when to keep their powder dry but for less established executives, the fear of getting it wrong can be paralysing.
KEY STEPS IN MANAGING UNCERTAINTY
1. Accept and Take Stock
These are challenging times, but the focus doesn’t need to be on what is not happening, accept where the business is now and think about what is happening now. Live data is critical, ensuring you are on top of key performance indicators and financials. Knowing your starting point is the first step in planning your journey.
2. Plan for different scenarios
Once you know where the business is now, it’s essential to gather as much information as you can from the outside world. Understand economic changes, what the competition is doing and how/whether your customer needs have changed. This will allow you to plan for a variety of scenarios and outcomes building in enough flexibility to make the business agile and ready to respond to changes.
3. Think creatively
Uncertainty presents an opportunity to reconsider how you do things and whether there are ways you can improve efficiency and spread risk. Engage your team in this process and empower them to identify opportunities for change.
4. Communicate effectively
If you are feeling uncertain and unsettled, then the likelihood is that the rest of your people feel the same way. By adopting an open and transparent approach to communication, you will ensure the team is engaged, understands the challenges and comes together to positively influence outcomes.
5. Seek help when you need it
There is a huge gain to be had in sharing your thoughts and ideas with those you trust in your networks and asking for input. Understanding their experiences, initiatives and approach will bring new ideas and fresh perspective to your challenges. Engaging external consultants can also have this effect.
ACCESSING THE EXPERTISE YOU NEED
For those who manage to identify opportunity instead of just seeing risk, the payoff is potentially a big competitive advantage when industry picks up again, as it inevitably will. For those who are nervous about taking the leap,hiring an interim is a much lower-risk proposition that can have a significant impact very quickly. Some examples of this include:
- In uncertain times, an interim provides a flexible resource that can be turned on and off and the time to hire is much faster than when looking for a permanent addition to a leadership team.
- Interims bring a wealth of experience along with fresh ideas and perspectives that could provide a catalyst to capitalising effectively on new opportunities caused by market uncertainty.
- Having an interim on board will give your existing leadership team the space and time to focus on their core responsibilities.
- Interims generate urgency and can give a business a new injection of pace and positivity.
Let’s be honest, uncertainty is difficult. Giving yourself the space to step back and see the current state clearly will help you to spot those opportunities and to formulate a positive and proactive plan to capitalise on them.
For more information on how Jonathan Lee can support you during these uncertain times, please get in contact with me.
Jon Blaze, Head of Recruitment Operations