Featured Post: Ambiguity in the workplace – 7 ways to handle it
How to tackle ambiguity in the workplace
Ambiguity at work can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
We are living in uncertain times. Clarity and certainty seem to be disappearing especially for groups which previously felt secure. Ambiguity in the workplace, which is what we are left with, is one of the key causes of stress and anxiety. This eventually spills into our personal relationships and wider cultures from those places of work. Many of us feel under pressure to be available 24/7, so now levels of fatigue are also factored in as we become sleep and rest deprived.
The stress continuum expands further.
STRESS KILLS AND AMBIGUITY PLAYS A PART
Research from Harvard and Stanford Business Schools examined 10 common job stressors including long working hours and job insecurity. The paper linked health based issues such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and decreased mental health to life threatening conditions, which kill 120,000 people every year in the United States. They conclude that diseases caused by work related stress are more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or ‘flu.
It is well documented that dealing with ambiguity in the workplace causes anxiety. When employees are anxious they feel defensive and access to the executive function in the brain is reduced. Decision- making becomes based on instinct, or learned patterns of behaviour, rather than reason. The ability to process and learn is also equally diminished.
If you feel under confident at work, try our Returner Roll-Up Session on Building your Confidence
The result is a cycle of poor decision-making which leads to increased ambiguity, stress and anxiety. Dealing with ambiguity in the workplace, and the uncertainty that it generates, is a significant challenge for today’s leaders and managers. It needs to be a top priority.
7 tips to deal with ambiguity in the workplace:
1. Define the framework and set clear and achievable objectives
When employee engagement is high, the levels of ambiguity will decrease. Even positive change can be stressful if the processes and outcomes are not clear.
2. Understand your staff and their coping mechanisms for managing stress
Everyone will have different trigger points. Factor that into your dealings with them. The one size fits all, and a “need to suck it up and get on with it" vibe, will not work long term.
3. Give clear and concise instructions to your employees
Don’t perpetuate and extend the ambiguity. Be clear in your instructions, reporting guidelines and benchmarks for success. Trying to read subtext and not knowing if there are subliminal messages can result in crazy-making thinking leading to further ambiguity. Take the time to find out what your team need and support them.
4. Make decisive decisions
That sounds like a duplication of words. It isn’t and doesn’t imply an authoritarian process. A process can be collaborative, but at some point a decision has to be made. Take it and commit to it. Make that decision decisively, communicate it clearly and take action. Ambiguity leads to uncertainty and confusion. This is bad for morale and ultimately business.
5. Give training on resilience and confidence
Any exposure to scenarios that allow employees to hone their skills will allow them to do their jobs more effectively. A lack of confidence causes hesitancy and leads to ambiguity. This in turn generates a culture of no confidence.
6. Make sure employees take their vacations and lunch breaks
In periods of uncertainty the general response is to throw people, time and energy at a problem. Very often the reverse is true. Rested, calm and measured energy is more productive than frantic “busyness”.
7. Encourage Mindfulness in the organisation
Mindfulness helps focus on the moment and creates an awareness of both a situation and any potential knee jerk reactions based on emotions. It also reduces the reliance on behaviours rooted in implicit bias and previous learned behaviour patterns. With practice it will eventually result in an ability to step back psychologically and emotionally to make calm decisions. It creates an awareness of your other thoughts and physical reactions.
TO HELP YOU LEARN HOW TO COMBAT UNCERTAINTY IN YOUR WORKPLACE CONTACT 3PLUS NOW!
Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services
Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.
The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)
Dates for the Diary
September 17th Latham Watkins Brussels 1200
In-house corporate event
Inclusive Leadership Workshop
September 20th EIGE Vilnius 0900
How to combat sexism in the workplace
Peer review of EU booklet authored by Dorothy Dalton
September 30th BD Foundation Webinar with Dorothy Dalton (online)
Topic: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
October 3rd JUMP Hub Brussels
Gender equality: how to build an attractive employer brand without falling into the trap of “gender washing”
Infrabel, rue de France, 9, 1070 Brusells
Open registration : http://jump.eu.com/hub-sessions/gender-equality-build-attractive-employer-brand-without-falling-trap-gender-washing/
October 15th NEHRA Event at AXA Brussels
Best Diversity and Inclusion Practices
October 22nd and 23rd Unleash Conference Paris
Open registration: https://unleashgroup.io
Download and listen free podcasts
How to Create an Effective USP What is a USP? Our Unique Selling Point or UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is our key core message about where...read more
How to Rethink the Modern Workplace for Gender Equality New research shows that diversity and inclusion is a top priority for leaders. So why...read more
Menopause in the workplace In this podcast with Nicki Williams award winning author, keynote speaker and Founder of Happy Hormones for Life,...read more
How to Cultivate Empathy in the Workplace Nancy Milton, international business communications expert, keynote speaker and author, share some vital...read more
Taking Care of your COW Tanvi Guatam, international Personal Branding expert says there is a misconception out there that a personal brand is...read more
The importance of Hard Talk Dawn Metcalfe, author of Managing the Matrix and Hard Talk, shares with us tips to achieve the lasting communication...read more
When Does Female Rivalry Turn into Sabotage There’s a lot of stuff written on social media about female rivalry and competition between women. Some...read more
Goal setting tips to boost your career The happiest people are those that really love their jobs. Those that don’t, dread Sunday nights and...read more
Sexism: How to stage a Bystander Intervention in the Workplace In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions...read more
How to Get Noticed by Head Hunters & Recruiters In this power coaching podcast, we're going to tackle one of the questions asked multiple...read more
Conscious inclusion means not just creating initiatives, but creating a culture where people can speak out and raise awareness of unacceptable behaviour.read more
Most of us have been on a road-trip at some point, but you may be surprised to learn what leadership skills the road can teach you.read more
The male-coded workplace is defined by several characteristics that discourage female participation, and career fear is at the heart of it.read more