Uncertain times have a way of bringing people together as they overcome adversity. Other times uncertainty could tear them apart. Uncertainty can bring to the surface fear of the unknown, and that can create a negative environment. Things like distrust, jealousy, sadness, selfishness, and feelings of helplessness can take over.

We all rely on our leaders to provide leadership during these tough times. As leaders, we must take charge and influence our team to prevent the scenarios I mentioned above.

Here are five ways manufacturing leaders can help their teams navigate through uncertain times:

  1. Be decisive: Uncertainty has a way of creating a limbo in people’s minds. The longer we allow people to stay in that limbo, the higher the risk of losing them as the emotions I mentioned above take over. Leaders should quickly assess the situation, the risks, and decide on a course of action. I recommend this thought process:
    1. Corrective action: how can we stop/influence the events that are creating uncertainty?
    2. Containment action: how do we prevent the problem from spreading?
    3. Preventive action: Once contained, how do we prevent the problem from reoccurring in the future?

Decisiveness brings a sense of stability; there is no need to be reckless; however, choosing to do nothing is also an action; you just have to be cognizant and prepared for the consequences. Dissuade the idea of becoming victims, and assure people that you will take action as necessary.

  1. Be Proactive: Uncertainty challenges our ability to think quickly on our feet. A situation can be threatening, and urgency is imperative, which rushes our decision-making process. Your best bet is to stay informed and ahead of the situation. Begin to envision and explore the possibilities without assuming too much, and start preparing so that you are not caught off guard.
  2. Be fair: You, as the leader, can bring anxiety or stability to your team. Remember, people will feel like they have lost control, and they are looking to you for reassurance. Make sure you explain the situation to the best of your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and tell them where you are and what your plan is so that they know what’s next. That will provide short term stability and give them something to look forward to. Lead by example and don’t ask others to do something you are not willing to do yourself.
  3. Bring the team together: Many people freeze in the face of uncertainty. Some people will react negatively, as I have mentioned. Your role is to infuse optimism so that people don’t lose hope. Remind them of your purpose as a team, so they don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Strive to motivate action, if pertinent; bring camaraderie to the team, help them feel you are all in this together.
  4. Show them you care: People need to feel more than ever that they are valued. Make sure you listen to their concerns and ideas and show them you understand where they are coming from. Consider their recommendations and follow through with any actions deemed necessary. Empathize with their emotions, assure them you will support them, and strive to connect as people.

If you are dealing with uncertainty in your manufacturing business and would like help with navigating through it, schedule a call.

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