Three Tips for Easing Uncertainty

Linda Dulye's picture
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The headline of this story – As It Loses Executives, Yahoo Seeks a Deal – illustrates another example of the uncertainty today’s workers face.

The embattled online media company does not have a permanent chief executive. Potential suitors are circling, albeit tentatively. And employees are growing anxious as senior executives rush for the exits.

With the level of uncertainty so great, Yahoo is eager to sign a deal and calm its ranks, according to several people briefed on the situation.

Call it a hunch, but we’d bet that Yahoo employees are far from engaged on the job. Who could blame them? If top executives are fleeing, what does the future hold for the front-line worker?

Here are three tips for leaders at this or any other company where uncertainty is prevalent:

1. Stay out front. If the executive team goes missing in action, the workforce will become anxious and productivity will plummet. Invisibility won’t inspire confidence.

2. Loop in managers. Employees look to their immediate managers for information. If the managers are left in the dark, you can bet employees will become suspicious and disengaged. Use multiple media sources to expand managers’ knowledge about developments at the enterprise and division levels. During information dry spells, ensure managers make direct connections with employees – simply to listen to their questions and concerns. Demonstrating interest is even more critical during tough times.

3. Ask for and respond to employee feedback. You might not be able to answer every question, but answer promptly the ones you can. Explain why certain questions can’t be answered and keep tally of them for follow-up when answers become available.

The Yahoo situation reinforces the challenges of today’s business climate and that the rules are constantly shifting. But you can still engage in sound, time-tested communications practices to keep your team focused.

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