Modern Management: Managing Change in Uncertain Times

Modern Management: Managing Change in Uncertain Times

How to make evidence-based decisions in an uncertain world

Managers in modern businesses are often confronted with uncertainty and ambiguity in their roles, which can incite confusion and chaos in the way organizations approach the future. Preserving culture, safeguarding jobs, and scaling technology can be delicate and challenging to balance. However, with adversity comes opportunity, and effective leadership can help your organization emerge stronger. When it comes to managing change and uncertainty, leaders need to focus on their core skills to demonstrate their ability to lead and work through these changes. 


The Characteristics of a Modern Manager

Executives across the board need to know how to implement management principles. All while honing their skills in building effective working relationships, negotiating and influencing, creating and communicating a revised vision and strategy, making sound leadership judgements, creating a culture of innovation growth and developing resilience.


One way to address the fear of an uncertain future and the potential adverse effects of change is to increase levels of communication within your team significantly, provide colleagues with regular updates on progress whilst at the same time obtaining feedback from team members.


To manage unpredictable changes, modern managers who succeed tend to adapt well to change and embrace it as an opportunity to create a new vision and strategy, improve processes, adapt well to change, be innovative and creative, viewing change as an opportunity to learn and evolve. 


6 Practical Tips Towards a More Flexible Organization

The best managers find ways to provide steady, realistic direction and lead with excellence, even when the strategy isn't clear. While pushing your leaders to be proactive, you will put yourself in a better position to manage strategic ambiguity. See below for our practical tips towards a more flexible organization:


  1. Conduct performance calibration meetings

In times of uncertainty, performance calibration meetings create a common language to communicate performance management standards. The goal of the meeting is for participants to discuss the most critical criteria to differentiate top performers; review the proposed ratings of employees, and determine the alignment with the requirements identified for top performers. After discussion, the participants agree on performance ratings for each employee, making adjustments as appropriate.

  1. Take pragmatic action

Taking pragmatic action is crucial when managing change. We suggest taking pragmatic action because these rational approaches help to step away from the emotional side of change and deal with the core of the problem. However, there is more to taking practical action than emotional steadiness; questions will arise: how will this impact my team? What if everything we're doing changes? The answer to these questions is to learn as much as you can so you're informed. Make use of your internal network and ask others in the organization for clarity. You'llYou'll find that once the hard work is done, you'll be able to anticipate the questions your team will ask and offer more value in your answers as a result.


  1. Establish a risk management plan

It's vital to understand all potential risks that could occur in your business. As things change, you'll find that being prepared and establishing a harmonious risk management plan will prepare you for future changes - however big or small. Measure each risk as low, medium or high based on at least these two factors: likelihood and impact. Risks that seem highly likely and are likely to have higher consequences should be examined.


  1. Ensure your approach is adaptable

Change in the federal government is constant, and adjusting to continuously evolving demands is essential even in a typical year. Managers should be eliminating barriers that might negatively affect their team's performance and work toward creating a workplace condition that ensures the efforts made for the change are successful.


  1. Keep team communication open. 

Strategic uncertainty can cause managers to communicate with team members less frequently and less openly. To demonstrate emotional steadiness, share your own emotions and acknowledge those of your team in productive ways. Let team members know that what they feel is okay. But talk with them about your commitment to being emotionally steady even during times of uncertainty. Ask them to do the same, and come to you if they are frustrated or concerned. Maintaining open dialogue will keep your team engaged and aligned until a clear direction emerges.

  1. Talk to other leaders 

It's okay not to have all the answers! Managers often believe they need to "be strong" and go it alone to demonstrate managerial confidence and competency. If someone you know reached out to you to ask for your advice, you'd happily provide support and feel valued as a friend. Apply this same theory to your business network. Once you open the door to conversing with your peers, you'll be surprised how quickly others engage.



Having to manage through change is inevitable, but leaders can ensure they meet head-on the demands of a rapidly evolving national environment by applying these practices. The ability to thrive during periods of strategic uncertainty separates the great managers from the rest. Don't allow a lack of clarity at your company to cast a shadow over your confidence or performance. Even in the most challenging and ambiguous of situations, you put yourself in a position to succeed when you commit to taking practical action while demonstrating emotional steadiness and drawing on the expertise of others.


At Heartpace, we take pride in giving leaders the best possible support when managing their teams through a crisis. Learn more about how we can assist you in leading your team on our performance management page.


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