“Ambiguity at work can show up in many ways. I would bucket it as transactional and transformational. Transactional ambiguity can arise due to lack of clarity, collaboration and communication. On the other hand, transformational ambiguity is when an organization is going to an internal or external transformation of any kind. Take for example the whole COVID situation that has transformed the way we do business today.”
Our latest Leadership Spotlight podcast features Medhika Sood, Associate Director-Talent Management & L&D at Uniphore, where she discusses the various phases of ambiguity while sharing anecdotes, skill sets and best practices to cope with awareness and clarity. So, let’s take a look at some of the key points highlighted by Medhika.
Adapting to change and dealing with ambiguity is one of the mainstays of our business world today, given the disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic and emerging technologies. While ambiguous situations were few and far between a couple years ago, today our business world is privy to all the question marks raised by uncertain situations, and the fear of the unknown.
While it may be natural to be wary of such instances, it is also vital to remember that our ability to deal with change, disruption and ambiguity is the ultimate differentiator between success and failure going into 2021.
Now, speaking of ‘dealing with ambiguity’, safe to say that in today’s companies, one of the key skills employees as well as leaders are expected to have is - dealing with ambiguity. What makes ambiguity such a big deal in business is the kind of effect it has on the performance, productivity, culture and eventually the bottom line.
There are certainly ways to deal with ambiguity, and one of the primary ones is to optimize clarity, reassurance and a planned and strategic approach to solving the challenges created due to ambiguity, at the same time aligning employee skills and performance to deal with the challenges.
The pandemic has literally introduced a great deal of ambiguity and uncertainty that we have never experienced, in our homes or at the workplace, though the lines are blurring every day. And, it calls on leadership and HR and L&D to address and solve these challenges at a break-neck pace.
Dealing with ambiguity also has a lot to do with creating a culture where, on one hand the leadership must reaffirm the resolve to overcome challenges, while on the other hand the employees are relieved and reassured of logical solutions. Besides, worrying about things that we have no control on affects morale and performance. This is how successful leaders create successful organizations by helping employees engage with and focus on doing meaningful work in the face of uncertainty.
However, as much as we strive to deal with ambiguous situations, newer ambiguities are just lurking around the corner, and that’s when once can fall into a loop, getting comfortable with or even good at making quick decisions in an ambiguous state. Yes, it is desirable, but how about ‘reducing ambiguity.’
Goals minimize ambiguity, communication and collaboration reduce ambiguity. Likewise, employee feedback reduces ambiguity and managerial feedback to understand performance levels reduces ambiguity.
A successful leader is one who takes ambiguous situations and makes them a little less ambiguous for his employees.