This could not be truer than in today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous) world. Work environments are a perfect example of recent and constant change. Now, most of the workforce is working remotely or a hybrid of remote and in-person, demanding flexible schedules and a shift in the traditional business environment.
With change comes uncertainty, and fear, influenced by the noise that is all around us. For example:
- The impact of the US Election
- COVID-19 cases on the rise
- Downsizing and layoffs happening
- Work schedules overlapping personal schedules
- Disrupted sleep due to the worry, stress and overwhelm
This fear and uncertainty results in background conversations. These conversations can show up as complaints, worry, resistance, vague speaking, or avoidance, as people try to figure things out alone. Background conversations are absent of action and can prohibit action from occurring in your organization.
Today’s leaders are coming to realize that; if they do not design a series of intentional conversations to support their staff with change, their people will continue to struggle to deal with change negatively impacting morale and productivity.
As leaders, are you present to the background conversations that are occurring in your organization? These background conversations damage trust, generative communication, accountability, and performance. These conversations distract action from occurring in your organization. We suggest the following steps to shift the conversations in your organization:
Listen for the background conversations that are occurring in your organization. Listen for complaints, worry, resistance, vague speaking, avoidance, and fear.
Deal with these background conversations! Acknowledge people’s concerns and create dialogue to deal with them, allowing negative emotions to be expressed in healthy ways and support generating action. Leverage your professional resources to support these conversations, i.e. your coach, HR Department, or Employee Assistance Programs.
Challenge – What can you as a leader do to change the narrative from “fear” to “possibilities” in your organization?