With a sharp fall in the PMI raising the potential for recession in the UK and a report that US employers announced 75,151 lay-offs in August, the highest level since 2020, it is understandable that people are anxious and concerned about the future.
In her article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Liz Fosslien writes about this prevailing feeling of uncertainty and lists seven ways that managers can support their teams. Molly Sands, head of practices for Atlassian’s Team Anywhere, says:
“Research shows that what managers of top-performing teams consistently do differently is to make their reports feel valued and comfortable.”
Effective support is crucial for empowering teams to navigate uncertainty and succeed. Fosslien suggests breaking down long-term goals into achievable milestones, identifying skills gaps and providing growth opportunities. Encouraging team members to take steps towards a dream job through learning and skills acquisition can go a long way to restoring their sense of control and motivation, even though the job cannot be realised in the current environment. She emphasises the fostering of clarity and trust through thoughtful explanations, granting that managers do not always have concrete information to share; “A lack of communication is still a form of communication — and it usually breeds mistrust and gossip”. Also, leaders should be protective of team members’ time and mental health if they feel overwhelmed by their assignments. This is a particular problem for recent college graduates who after years of disrupted learning, made more demanding by the pandemic, are likely (80%) to be experiencing symptoms of burnout. According to a survey by Handshake 25% of college graduates are “highly worried” about workplace burnout. The survey defines burnout as “characterized by persistent feelings of mental or physical exhaustion, accompanied by lack of motivation, reduced productivity, and/or feeling negative or cynical about your academic work.”
Uncertainty breeds anxiety, but with targeted support, managers can help their teams feel empowered, supported, and able to succeed. Organisational Sensemaking™️, powered by real-time Organisational Experience (OX) data, provides valuable insights into team dynamics, enabling leaders to detect signs of concern in their teams and take appropriate actions. By leveraging Organisational Sensemaking™️, businesses can navigate uncertainty with confidence and drive sustainable growth and success. One approach to finding out how people are feeling is to ask for their opinions about the workplace in confidence. Using Organisational Sensemaking™️, Tensense provides an anonymous, quick and ongoing way of assessing the mood of the people about how the organisation is doing. You can find out more in this short video here.