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Battling Lack of Focus Due to Uncertainty in the Workplace

Never in the past decade has the sentence “these unprecedented times” been spoken so many times within a short period of time. These “unprecedented times” have have undoubtedly caused a sort of “burnout crisis” that’s affected the world on a global scale. And one of the symptoms of burnout is reduced performance at work.

Uncertainty can lead to distraction and anxiety

Our first instinct is to blame corporate for working their teams to the brink of exhaustion during a time when every decision made can either make or break a business. However, a research conducted by the University of California San Fransisco shows that there could be an underlying reason for the stress people are experiencing at work, and it’s not job-relate: it’s the fear of uncertainty and the ambiguity we’re currently living in that is driving people over the edge.

Uncertainty, as the research points out, causes anxiety and stress; two emotional responses to a perceived threat that isn’t really there. And where there’s stress and anxiety, there’s going to be a lack of focus. The uncertainty brought by the pandemic is already causing your team to lose their edge, so don’t make them experience the same kind of uncertainty at work as well.

 

Here are ways you can eliminate uncertainty and get your team to focus at work.

How to keep your team focused

Rmind them of company values and align them with theirs

It’s one thing to keep a generic list of company values hung on the walls of the office, but really instilling the values of the company in your employees is another endeavor. Bring your teams and executives in—or have them all jump on a Zoom call together—and remind them of the value the company’s products and services are adding to people’s lives. Emphasize that their jobs is to bring that value into the market and make people’s lives better as a result.

When your teams feel like they’re part of a greater cause, it helps clarify their vision for the future, whether personal or company-related. And whatever uncertainty they may have felt about the company they’re working for before will fade away since now they’ve properly internalized the value they’re creating at work.

Make sure your team understands company objectives

As important as it is for your teams to understand company values, it’s also important that they clearly understand the objectives you’re trying to achieve within your organization.

Eliminating uncertainty in your company is to simply make your motto in the workplace “be clear and precise.” Inform your team leaders of the clear, simple objectives of the company, and then make sure they accurately convey those objectives to their teams. Everyone in the company needs to know what they’re working towards, so that they can align their team objectives with those of the company.

Lend a listening ear

In times like these, you need as many opinions on how to move things forward as you can get. And that means not talking about your ideas for once. Let teams and team leaders voice out their opinions and say what’s on their mind. Create a safe space to allow them to mention their ideas without judgement, no matter how crazy they sound.

And don’t just give them that safe space, actively encourage them. Sometimes we can show disinterest or judgement through our tone or behavior, and your team will pick up on those subtle cues. Practice nodding or confirming through verbal or visual cues that you’re truly and carefully listening to what they’re saying.

Set clear expectations

Remember your new motto? Be clear and precise. You need to be clear with your objectives, but you also need to be clear with your employees about your expectations as the leader. Establishing clear communication amongst your teams and team of executives will help bridge the gap some top-bottom companies have.

Your team needs to know what kind of results you expect to see by the end of the quarter. Give them a clear number, a deadline, and if they don’t know how to achieve those results, coach or train them on how to do so.

And lastly, encourage self-care

Sometimes, all your employees need is a reminder that, if they want to do their jobs right, they need to take care of themselves first. Encourage them to set time aside for themselves, take a walk in nature, spend time with their families or a beloved pet, and if none of that works, encourage them to seek out professional help.

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