Managing Employee Relationships: Addressing Risk in Uncertain Environment

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

In all organizations when leaders make a decision, there is risk that the decision may not have the desired outcome.  In an environment of uncertainty for the organization, the risk stakes are higher for leadership decisions.  Because of this risk intensity, leaders may delay having to make a tough decision to stall the inevitable outcome.  Leaders may put their head in the sand and hope that the uncertainty will go away and therefore they can avoid making the decision all together.  Or they could pawn the decision off onto someone else to avoid being associated with the decision so they can remain “loved”.

Why is it important to do anyway?

One of my favorite sayings about aspects of leadership that I do not enjoy is that they are “part of the gig.”  When you sign on to the position, there are going to be aspects you simply love…and many that you wish you didn’t have to perform.  Both are part of the commitment to leadership, and whether we like it or not, our workforce is expecting us to deal with uncertainties and make the tough calls.

How can you do it?

  1. Remember the honor you experience as a leader.  I refer to this as the “happy place” for me as a leader.  You need to remember the stewardship you signed on for when you accepted your position.  This helps put the proper frame of reference around the tough decisions you have to make every day.  You have to remind yourself what is REALLY important and at the same time handle tough decisions in a way that you can look at yourself in the mirror every day and know you have honored the position and responsibilities you have.
  2. Promote a culture of safety in decision making.  Acknowledge the risk that exists with decision making and expect that you and others you serve will make wrong decisions.  It is going to happen.  As a leader, transparency when you have made mistakes, sharing openly how and why you made decisions that did not work and then what you did to remedy the situation, will demonstrate to others that it’s o.k. to make mistakes.  This promotes a “safety in decision making” that many members of your workforce need to feel before they may make tough decisions.
  3. Utilize a transparent and consistent decision-making model.  All you really have are your words and your actions… and your workforce watches and listens to make sure the way in which you make decisions is consistent with your values and those of the organization.  Those you serve are more comfortable facing risk when their leader is predictable and consistent in their method of decision making and the decisions made reflect the values of the organization.

What are some strategies you use manage the barriers that an uncertain environment presents to you as a leader?

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One Response to “Managing Employee Relationships: Addressing Risk in Uncertain Environment”

Kendall L. Stewart December 15th, 2013 at 6:53 am

Seeking input from every stakeholder while making it clear that critical decisions will not necessarily be made by majority vote can help to minimize the risk.

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