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Hi, It’s Tom here from Excel Communications on the Learn Grow Succeed Podcast.

Today, I’d like to talk about leading your team through difficult times. Have you ever had to manage a team through uncertainty?

I suspect the answer is yes.

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In unpredictable situations, whether it’s political confusion or a company restructure, it can be challenging to lead a team and manage the uncomfortable feelings that are often generated by a stressful situation.

If your team is concerned about their future, they can quickly become distracted and unproductive – and a dip in morale can be contagious.

So, what can you do to help keep that important everyday focus while supporting your team through ambiguity?

Here are three steps to help you manage uncertainty and keep focus through difficult times.

Let’s explore each one in turn.


Firstly and crucial,  take care of yourself, both physically and mentally

This is the most critical step – you’ll be no use to your team if you’re not on top form.

So, in difficult times start by thinking about how you are feeling. What actions can you take that will keep your values intact during external turmoil? What’s most important to you as a leader?

Acknowledging your anxiety will help you label your reactions so you can distance yourself from them; admit that while you are experiencing these feelings, they do not define you. Those values you hold as a leader can still shine through and help you carry on.

Remember that sleep, exercise and proper nutrition are essential to help suppress anxiety and enhance productivity. Going for a walk at lunchtime and leaving your phone in another room at night are good starting points.

Practising mindfulness, meditation or yoga can also be beneficial to reducing your stress levels.


Next, truly acknowledge the uncertainty of the situation

It’s not ‘business as usual’, so be prepared to discuss issues with your team to avoid their worries being bottled up and affecting performance.

Normalising stress and seeing it as a typical physiological response to uncertainty will help them manage their feelings.


Finally, take really good care of your team

It’s a good idea to set aside time to talk to your team one-to-one, to discuss their particular needs and concerns. You might not be able to ‘fix’ things, but showing empathy will create a bond of trust that will enable you to sustain team morale with greater ease.

For example, how can you help the team right now? Thinking about answers together will help prioritise work, keep everyone working collaboratively and build a support network that makes individuals feel valued.

You may wish to increase your teams’ control over some areas of their work – such as allowing more flexibility in the workplace as long as the workload is manageable. Providing a sense of control, even over little things, can help establish a feeling of certainty in uncertain times.

Talk to your team about their values too – how should the team act during uncertain times? By working together, maintaining respect and consideration for each other, your team can stay grounded and have a sense of purpose while trying to drive the business forward.


So, there you have three practical ways to manage your team in difficult times.

If you are a leader who has been in this situation, how did you keep morale high in your team? Feel free to share in the comments below!

If you want to develop your leadership style and empower your team, you can get in touch by sending me a DM either through LinkedIn or on the contact form on our website.