Upside Possibilities of Uncertainty
A consequence for many people in many companies is the covid aftermath of uncertainty. Uncertainty generates insecurity, an ambiguous and uncomfortable state that often makes us feel confused, anxious, and afraid to act. Self-imposed restraints in a team often arise from ‘pluralistic ignorance’, a fancy way of saying: “a set of things that nobody believes in, but everybody believes that everybody else believes in”. Confusion feels permanent. Certainty feels distant, if possible. The illusion of certainty is reinforced by the paralysing effect in the pursuit of comfort zones at work. Denial becomes a predictable consequence that invariable breeds confusion on many fronts with many people. That blocks the necessary process of renewal to deal effectively with the new and current changed realities. Reinforcing the blocking is the fact that there is no single person alive who is not in pursuit of certainty, every day. Teams working from home weren’t prepared to be working as distributed teams, with all the uncertainty challenges it brings. How can a team still function despite working from dispersed locations? Is certainty possible? How would a team know they have certainty? How long does it last? What are the upside possibilities of uncertainty? Creating more certainty is therefore the issue at hand – the sensible thing to do. Here are some thoughts to consider.
Mind-Set Renewal – What is certainty invariably comes to mind. The only certainty anyone can and will ever have is…experience, in the here & now. How does that relate to a team? A team is a living social system. It is an opportunity for the teamwork coordinator and team leader to deliberately enable people to entertain a renewal of their thinking and mind-set. Setup “member touch points” once a week to reinforce positive experiences. A phone call, email, WhatsApp video call or Zoom discussion. These are brief chats, short free flowing, to the point though on 4 issues: a) What progress are we making or lack of it in achieving the deliverables everyone is involved with? b) What are the difficulties being experienced? c) What can be suggested to improve the team processes? d) What’s on your mind at this point in time? Many have come face-to-face with their fears and hopes. For people to unpack, share in a free flowing way is hugely important. To have a supportive listener on the other side, to share and understanding the feeling will engender certainty and will make all the difference. Point of
Reference, Reframe & Renew Our boundaries and limitations, the way we see things, are the direct consequence of our point of reference. The terms frame / reframing suggest the idea of looking through something at something – the way you see things, and perception is reality. A frame directs attention to features of the object of interest in a direct way. By changing your frame, point of reference, you will change the boundaries and limitations you hold. You are not in the work you do; the work you do is in you. A different mind-set is called for. Examine your points or frames of reference and change them where necessary to improve your team’s experience of certainty.
Trust – Possibly the most important ingredient of certainty. Understanding it is the first step. Trust is a process of experience, the only certainty that exists. It implies instinctive, an unquestioning belief in and reliance upon something, a knowingness. It is more than confidence. Confidence implies conscious trust because of good reason, definite evidence, or past experience. Trust is a catalytic process that enriches experience and certainty. Trust begets trust. It is my behaviour that builds trust, not my assumptions, wishes or intentions. We either build or diminish trust every time we interact, the is no neutrality possible.
Sources: Intégro Learning SA –Specialist Team Performance Coach, Johan Cronjé; – Paul Cope; Altered States of Consciousness Raising Consultant USA – Amy C. Edmondson; Harvard Business School – Workplace Strategist, Nina Sochon