How Can I Support My Employees When I Don’t Have the Answers?

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Now that we’re more than a year into the pandemic, and as we prepare for Phase 4 operations, you may be wondering how you should continue to support your employees when you don’t have all of the answers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

You Don’t Have to Solve Everything
Although effective supervisors are excellent problem-solvers, you don’t need to solve every problem. Some challenges, like a more than yearlong health crisis that closes your workplace, are truly beyond your control.

“Pretending to have all the answers is stressful. It’s lonely. It’s draining,” said Sue Elliott, co-founder and CEO/chief energy officer of Workplace Energetics in the Society for Human Resource Management article, “Why the BEST Leaders Don’t Even Try to Have All The Answers.”

You have permission to not be thriving in this situation. It’s okay!

“Letting go of the need to have all the answers is hugely empowering — both for leaders and for the people they work with,” Sue said. “There’s a huge upside to “not knowing.”

Although you may not have all of the answers, what you can do is listen.

“Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty,” explained Glenn Llopis, president and CEO of the workforce development and business strategy consulting firm GLLG in the Forbes article, “6 Ways Effective Listening Can Make You a Better Leader.” “You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them.”

Share What You Do Know
Throughout any crisis situation (and yes, for many of us, we’re still in crisis mode), share what you do know while advising your employees that things will continue to change frequently and quickly.

Merrie Spaeth, president of Spaeth Communications, recommended in the Forbes article, “What to Tell Your Employees Amid a Crisis When You Don’t Know What to Tell Them,” that when communicating about a crisis, remember that information can be hard for people remember correctly. Therefore, repetition is key through multiple channels.

It’s also important not to exaggerate or downplay the situation. Stick to the facts.

For additional tips on supporting your employees, view this article from Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, “How Can I Support My Employees in this New Normal?

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