Managing Uncertainties and Fear: Lessons from the Year Past

In a world where the next digital disruption is always around the corner, there is a palpable race to deliver better and more secure products; and those delivering faster and better applications while also minimizing the cost of quality (CoQ) are winning.

With no playbook to guide us, the biggest challenge was determining how to make long-term strategic plans when nothing felt certain. We decided to invest in the mental and physical well-being of our employees. Read on to learn more.

A Not-So-Welcome New Normal

If one’s asked to show a modern-day example of what living and working in a VUCA world is like, all they’d have to do is describe the post-COVID world.

The pandemic has caused a disruption in the global work culture in unimaginable ways. Worldover, while dealing with the anxiety of a full-blown pandemic, people have had to face several challenges, including job losses, pay cuts, fear of the unknown, work pressure, failure to adapt to the changes, and impacted mental health. On the other hand, employers are succumbing to the sudden change brought about in their entire organization, the shaky global market, the pressure of ensuring the safety of their employees while ensuring business continuity.

Yet, the show went on. People and businesses thrived. What did we learn from it all?

An Employer’s Guide to Managing Uncertainties

Here’s what we learnt from starting and scaling a new company in the middle of a pandemic.

With no playbook to guide us, the biggest challenge was determining how to make long-term strategic plans when nothing felt certain. We decided to invest in our employees and their mental and physical well-being.

Here’s how:

1. Empathy

The first order of business was to understand the whirlwind of emotions our people were going through. The constant flow of coronavirus speculations, uncertainty about the health and wellbeing of their loved ones, loss of freedom to venture out of their homes, reduced social interactions, and an acute sense of isolation, there was no dearth of anxiety-inducing stimulations. It was only natural that many would feel fear and related emotions such as anxiety, worry, and apprehension, which can lead to unaccountability, decreased engagement, and declining productivity.

We strongly believe that leaders who work with their emotions rather than supressing them in the name of professionalism have more to offer in terms of creativity, people management, problem-solving and innovation. We encouraged all our leaders to consciously make space in their calendars to connect with their teams regularly, but also to ensure they don’t ignore your own struggles in the process. Because, you can’t pour out of an empty cup. 

2. Moving Beyond Fear

It’s easy to lose sight of what we are capable of when we are afraid and feel like nothing is under our control. 

We increased the frequency of our written and verbal communications. “Hi, Hope you are keeping safe. Can you please help me with this?”  messages were replaced with “Hey, just checking in. All okay? Anything I can help you with?”. In a time where speculations and rumors were all time high all around us, it felt important to address concerns directly, through timely and honest updates on what the business was doing and how we were moving forward.

3. Building Resilience for Our People and the Organization

Given that our core competency is building and enabling technological resilience for businesses, we hit the ground running with this one.

That said, building resilience for our people, wasn’t as easy. Although we are blessed with a bunch of change-hardy folks, insecurities do tend to creep in when faced with such unprecedented uncertainties. We found that incentivizing upskilling and where possible creating short stretch projects worked wonders in helping our people gain their confidence and motivation back. People work better when they spend their energy on challenges they enjoy. 

4. Fostering a Nurturing Work Culture

We would have done this even if it were the ‘old normal’; but the realities of the times demanded we really push the peddle on it.

Although business had to go on and commitments to our clients had to be met, it wasn’t fair to expect our employees to work as if it was BAU. Yes, we were all in it together, but everyone was fighting their own battles. It felt only natural that we give them the safe space to overcome their personal challenges and figure out how to deliver their best again in their own time.

This made a world of difference. As time passed, we saw our team members helping each other out more, collaborating better, and even feeling more invested in the projects at hand.

Investing in Your People Can Never Go Wrong

When you genuinely work towards shared success, you attract more people who will go above and beyond to push you forward than those who try to pull you down. 

If there’s one thing that we’ve learnt about ourselves during the past several months, is that we are a technology company that is “of the people, by the people, for the people”. After over a year of operating in “survival mode” not just at work, but at home too, people are looking forward to a brighter way forward. We plan to continue with our crisis-tested methods of keeping our team members curious and engaged. Everything else will follow.

The future is uncertain… but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.

– Ilya Prigogine

Publish: July 22, 2021


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