Creating certainty in uncertain times

I recently sat down with Steve Pace – SJS Solutions CEO – and asked him a really difficult question. I asked him how he feels organisations can create certainty in uncertain times.

Our industry, like many others, is facing unprecedented stresses and challenges as a result of the devastating impact of COVID-19. We know that our clients are facing challenges never faced before. This is all leading to huge amounts of uncertainty. The impact that uncertainty has on employees simply cannot be underestimated. Uncertainty causes an increase in social pain. When you increase pain, you increase the production of stress hormones, which increases stress, decreases productivity, increases disengagement, increases sickness… the list goes on and on and the cycle is unstoppable.

Before we could address my question, we needed to establish what we mean by term “Certainty.” At SJS, everything we do informed by the research coming out of the Neuro-Leadership Institute. In the SCARF framework, Rock (2008) defines Certainty very simply as, “our ability to predict the future.” This doesn’t mean that we need to develop psychic powers! Rather, “Certainty” means how confident we are about what is going to happen to us in the future. The more confidence we have about this, the more certainty we have.

Back to the question I asked at the start of the interview: Given all the changes every person and every organisation is facing right now – how can employers create certainty in the middle of all this uncertainty?

As someone with years of experience in this field, Steve explains that there are a couple of simple – but effective – things that organisations can do to give their employees certainty, lower their stress levels and protect their well-being:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! This is very much a two-way street. Clear, purposeful communication from managers really increases certainty. When people know what is happening in the business, they are more able to work out how things are going now, and might in the future. This helps to build consensus and lower stress. Remember: listen to your employees as well. And I mean really listen! Give people the opportunity to talk about their work and how they see themselves in their role. Ask them how they can help the company to meet its goals and they will be more engaged, productive, happy and certain.
  2. Share common goals, resources and strategies that everyone can use to help the organisation reach its goals and meet its targets. This gives everyone certainty because they are able to row together in the right direction! When goals and resources are shared, you have increased transparency as well. When everyone can see the goal – and how they are going to work as a team to get there, certainty is guaranteed.
  3. Repetition increases people’s sense of certainty, and the research on this is crystal clear: Provide regular opportunities for people to repeat desired views and you will increase their certainty. For example, monthly staff surveys can be used to gather people’s views. During meetings, you can ask colleagues to re-state their position on something. Ask them to state other people’s position on topics or decisions made as well. Some companies ask employees to be very active on social media by liking and sharing company content. All of these things increase certainty and will help lower stress and improve engagement.

In closing, Steve offered one final piece of advice: Certainty is essential to the healthy operation and wellbeing of any organisation. “Without certainty, you have uncertainty… and you don’t need a background in psychology to understand why that’s going to kill your productivity.”

Optymyse Version 6 has a number of innovative features which – when used properly – will help build confidence, increase certainty and protect the mental well-being of employees at every level of the contact centre. Get in touch with us today to book a free consultation call and we’ll show you how to do it.

Image credit: Tim Gouw. Pexels. 2020