4 minute read – Last updated: May 11, 2020

Leading in times of uncertainty

Ask the Expert with Robert St-Jacques — Episode 10

Our GM of Professional Services Robert St. Jacques has been answering the questions we continue to receive about HR and people management changes during the health crisis. 

Q: How do we bring out the best in people during times of uncertainty? And how do we ensure that we keep bringing out our best without being affected by negative surrounding circumstances?

RSJ: This is fantastic. It brings to mind a quote from Mr. Rogers. He said, “when I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say, ‘look for helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” People are naturally motivated to help out in crisis times. But there are things that get in the way. In terms of what you can do individually, there are four areas I want you to look at. 

The first part is to tell people the truth and provide them with as much information as possible. People don’t like uncertainty. Uncertainty creates a vacuum. So don’t create vacuums of a lack of information. Provide people with information, even over-communicate. Whether it be in your department, your team, or your company — the area you can somewhat control. 

Next, involve them in some of the solutions. Are you pivoting? Are you changing? Are you looking for new sources of revenue? Are you trying to figure out if your revenue is not lost, but just deferred? You may have usually had a nice nine to five, Monday through Friday operation, but now you’re going to have to move you know 24 seven operations in order to play catch up. Involve them in the solutions and what you need to do now, for example in Q2, in order to prepare for what you can see as the business coming back with a vengeance in Q3.

The third piece is to basically connect with them on a human level. So you’ve given them information, you’ve involved them in the solutions, everybody’s working away. But keep in mind, this is the new normal so to speak. Check in with them on a human level, ask them how they’re doing. 

The last piece is to ensure that you celebrate wins and progress. Look at the effort that they’re making and recognize that effort. Depending on the culture of your company and where you’re located, that recognition can be private, or it can be public in nature, following the cultural norms of whatever country or region you’re in, and of your company as well. 

What I’m trying to say is stay out of people’s way — they naturally want to help and especially during times of crisis, so provide them with information, involve them in decision-making. Check with them on a human level and celebrate your wins and recognize their efforts.


Do you have a question that you would like Robert to answer? Send it in and we may include it in an upcoming episode.