How to Lead When Uncertainty is the New Norm

After almost two years of leading teams through what seems like crisis after crisis, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the continued uncertainty on the horizon. No one really knows where the world will be even three months from now, so how confident are leaders, more specifically TA leaders, to lead their teams through anything right now?

To help answer what leaders can focus on to more confidently lead their teams through the current times, we sat down with Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR, during our October webinar. Moderated by Edisa Rodriguez, Pillar’s Head of Growth & DEI, Anita provided insight into four areas that leaders should focus on to lead their teams through uncertainty. 

Check out the full 1-hour webinar below or read on for a brief synopsis of each focus area. Prior to presenting each focus area, we conducted a poll with the audience, so we’ll also share the top results from each poll.

1.) Managing Stress to Lead with Confidence 

Poll: How confident are you to lead through anything right now?
53% responded with “Neutral”

Anita mentions that we have so many things competing for our attention right now, and this is why it’s imperative to focus on 3 things when it comes to managing stress:

  • Beware of the work/life blur
  • Think beyond wellness
  • Make time for what makes you happy 

In a time of uncertainty, you need to center yourself, and that’s ultimately going to create a more confident version of you as a leader. 

2.) Setting Strategy to Navigate Uncertain Economic Factors

Poll: What percentage of your team has worked through an economic downturn?
A tie at 41% for both <25% & 25-50%

As a leader navigating uncertain economic factors, you have to be able to answer, “How do we help the business move through an economic downtown?”. Anita says there’s 3 ways to do this…

  • Focus on the short term (12-24 months) 
  • Align on goals with the business
  • Define what you need to survive 

One of the biggest takeaways from this focus area is that we want to make sure that anything we ship out of our human/people function aligns with the goals of the business. There’s nothing we should ship that doesn’t directly drive vision, mission, values, or strategy. 

3.) Building Culture in a Remote World

Poll: Do benefits retain your team?
67% responded with “No”

Anita doesn’t believe there’s a solid ROI for benefits and thinks they’re more “table stakes”. Instead, the way that we win is through mission, vision, and values, and this is because mission inspires, vision sets your direction, and values are behaviors in action.

So, how do we focus on building culture in a remote world? You have to show conviction on the topic of mission/vision/values, you have to customize them to the problems that you’re solving within the business, and you have to communicate why they’re important over and over again. 

4.) Providing A Clear Vision to Drive Engagement

Poll: Do you see your values in action at your organization?
75% responded with “Yes”

Anita says that by driving action through your values is how you’ll see more engagement within your team, and you can do this by… 

  • Communicating, communicating, communicating!
  • Measuring effectiveness
  • Having conversations with your team 

One thing that they did at BambooHR to stay connected within their team was a “Warrior of Wellness” month where they all posted pictures on Slack of remote yoga sessions, hiking, etc. to continue to drive connection to their mission and values through different programs.

Before concluding, Anita mentioned 4 key takeaways for how leaders can continue to navigate these uncertain times: 

  • Set a regimen to promote personal wellbeing goals 
  • Identify a strategy for the next 12-24 months & course correct as needed 
  • Build a culture to support the team you need to accomplish company goals
  • Communicate vision often to engage employees 

Let’s end with our favorite quote from Anita during the session on the topic of employee performance reviews: “Would you watch the World Series if there was no scoreboard?! We don’t tell our employees if they’re winning or losing in their role, and it’s CRIMINAL.” 

Be on the lookout for our November webinar topic and guest announcement soon. See you then!

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