Honesty in uncertainty

There are moments of uncertainty in every business. A merger, a divestiture, the death of a founder, a significant loss of market share, a fear of not making payroll next month.

In an effort to avoid panic, leadership will often tell employees they needn’t worry if they keep focussing on the work. Of course, this doesn’t alleviate anyone’s worry. In fact, it can makes things worse because employees now think that leadership knows something that they don’t. Something worth hiding.

Leadership should instead acknowledge the uncertainty and the fears. They should be honest about what they don’t know, why they don’t know it and when we can expect answers. Will some employees abandon ship, making the uncertainty greater? Maybe. But leadership should be OK with that if they truly care more about their employees than they do about the corporate entity.

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