Maintaining control during uncertain times


As human beings, we have an innate desire for certainty and control.
This desire can be seen in a wide ranging set of behaviours, attitudes and even rituals we use at times.

At an extreme level, people can tend to over-controlling behaviour of both events and people in their lives. In organisations, a classic example of this can be a leader who has a micro-managing style.  At times,  a degree of micro managing might be essential for short periods,  but if this becomes the default “modus operandi” of the individual, it inevitably has negative consequences, particularly on the individuals direct reports, but can also have a domino effect, as this pattern of behaviour is mirrored by other people.  At another level, it is seen by the rituals we all use to try to guarantee a positive outcome to situations. Athletes use a range of rituals; a particular pair of trainers, jewellery, a short prayer before the race starts. Actors, also are known for the rituals they adopt to endeavour to ensure a great performance.

As human beings, it certainly feels like we are living through times of great uncertainty and change both on a global, national level and individual level.

In these turbulent times, what can we do as individuals  to equip ourselves to not only cope but actually to thrive during times of high ambiguity and continuous change ?

  1. Reduce the amount of time we spend focusing our time and energy in areas where we have no current control or influence over, i.e.,  global wars, climate change concerns, impact of Brexit on our international relations and economy. This is the one of the key messages proposed by Stephen Covey  in his seminal book “The seven habits of highly effective people”.
  2. Re-direct more time and focus on those areas or situations we do have some control and influence over. In organisational settings where major change is occurring either  as a result of rapid growth and attendant restructuring, or downsizing due to economic or other factors, it is important for everyone, but particularly managers and leaders to recognise what is they can control and influence. A manager can set the emotional and behavioural tone for his or her team, by the way they are at work. They can choose how well they support their team members and themselves as they travel through this period. They can offer consistent and clear communication to their team members, even if the message at times is “there is no news right now”. They can be innovative in how they help the team members retain motivation and focus on their particular area of responsibility during the period of transition.
  3. Learn to become less attached to desired outcomes. That is not to say, you don’t have clear visions and targets for what you want to achieve. Of course it  is vitally important to have these and to work towards them.  The trouble for people occurs when they are overly attached to their desired outcomes and find it very difficult to really accept an undesirable outcome. One of the great hallmarks of really resilient people is their ability to truly recognise and accept an adverse situation, or setback, to process it in a way that enables them get back on track with their particular objective or desired goal, within a relatively short space of time.

This whole attitude to control is neatly encapsulated  within the well known serenity prayer, penned by the american theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr:-

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Emintell Limited works collaboratively with  Natures Coaching in supporting individuals and teams in organisations really focus on and grow their resilience and well-being.As well as organisational work, they offer open workshops on growing personal resilience. Our next open workshop is on the 11th November 2016 at Aston Hall hotel.

Click here for more details or to check out booking details.