Fighting workplace uncertainty with OKR and coaching

Table of Contents

Throughout their professional lives, everyone will encounter new and unknown situations again and again. Whether it’s learning to use unfamiliar technology, working through economically uncertain times, or worrying about being fired because someone may be able to do your job better—times like these can really knock someone’s confidence. This means that those in leadership positions need to be able to recognize these uncertainties within their teams so they can react accordingly or prevent them from happening in the first place.

The problem is: The larger the company, the more difficult it is to recognize an individual employee’s insecurities. Because of this, team leads are asking how they should approach such difficulties within the company, and rightly so. This is a topic that definitely should not be underestimated, as it can increasingly lead to personal and economic damage in the long run. In this article, we will show you how goal-oriented coaching and OKRs can help you deal with uncertainties and how you can work to prevent them in the first place.

Feeling insecure at work—a topic to be taken seriously

Employee insecurities can arise quickly and in all areas of the company. Whether at the management level, in customer support, in product development or in marketing — uncertainty is a universal issue that needs to be taken seriously, as it can have existential effects on both the company and its employees.

With regard to individuals, uncertainties that pile up and go unrecognized can lead to psychological problems, such as fear, pessimism and even depression. This, in turn, leads to bad decision-making, increased sick days and increased employee turnover. In other words, productivity and employee satisfaction suffer.

Uncertainty and change management

Companies going through change processes are often confronted with uncertainties within their teams. New work methods, new company philosophies, and new goals and strategies—all of these things can lead to uncertainty and affect employee performance.

The Change Curve below shows how this can play out.

Change curve from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Change is never accepted and implemented without resistance. Most of the time, the journey has its ups and downs. To overcome these resistances and low points as well as keeping employees motivated at all times, clear and transparent communication is needed.

Using transparency to fight uncertainty within a company

Uncertainty is often a result of unawareness, such as when tasks are not made clear, the company strategy is incomprehensible or new approaches are not transparently communicated. If all team members are not on the same page, uncertainty will quickly follow. That means clear and understandable communication from management is vital.

As mentioned above, the transformation process and the introduction of new work methods or strategies within a company are often met with uncertainty. In all of these cases, transparency is an important key to success. All employees need to understand the path they are expected to follow. If this does not happen, uncertainties are bound to arise and will continue to develop in a negative manner. Approximately 83 percent of all transformation processes fail for reasons such as staff resistance. Naturally, this happens when not all employees are properly involved in the process.

Resistance to change is inevitable. That means the goal has to be to use transparent communication to ensure all employees are on the same page and, like in the Change Curve, can be guided out of the “valley of despair.” This is the only way to sustainably establish and drive transformation processes within a company.

Using the right coaching to get to the bottom of problems

One way to create transparency and overcome uncertainty is through coaching.

Specialized business coaches are able to help leadership and staff adapt to new situations. With their methods, they help promote transparency within teams and work to identify and eliminate uncertainties.

The right coaching can be applied to various areas within the company. In principle, coaching is about establishing sustainable changes in behavior. This can occur in an employee’s career development, in the area of cultural change, the merging of one or more companies, or even when it comes to diversity.

When applied properly, coaching can have an impact on:

  • Communication/Transparency
  • Team culture
  • Performance
  • Commitment

All in all, it can be said that:

Coaching creates mental and organizational stability in times of uncertainty by developing individual skills and ensuring a shared understanding of values within the company. Coaching also helps deal with conflicts and challenges as well as establishing a transparent company culture.

How OKRs can influence uncertainties within a company

Just like coaching, OKRs are based on the assumption that uncertainty within a company exists and is hindering strategy execution. The goal-setting framework, however, starts at a different point, which is why it combines wonderfully with coaching to eliminate uncertainties.

Functioning as a link between the strategy level and operational execution, OKRs can have a direct impact on the transparent communication of overarching goals.

A short definition: What is OKR?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and is a holistic goal-setting method. With help from OKRs, companies can define goals for the entire organization as well as their individual team. Within the framework, OKR promotes communication and transparency for the company, ensuring continuous value creation as well as constant learning and development. Would you like to learn about the basics of OKRs?

You can read more here:

OKR Guide

Focusing on the essentials

OKRs help organizations focus on a few select goals at all times. In this way, the framework makes sure all company employees are only concentrating on the most important things. That means uncertainty over which project or metrics are currently relevant or where capacities could be best applied does not exist.

Of course, all strategic company topics can be mapped out with OKRs. The problem that could arise here is that not all topics can be worked through, which could then lead to dissatisfaction and, over time, weaken dedication. With the right framework, teams learn to solidify what is actually important and place their attention on these Objectives, respective Key Results and initiatives.

Continuous learning in short cycles

That brings us to the next point in which the issue of uncertainties within a company can be improved. OKRs are defined and processed in very short cycles. Ideally, OKR Cycles are handled quarterly, allowing for quick reaction to any changes in environmental factors. Even more important, it promotes quick adaptation. Thanks to the short cycle duration, team members can get together more often to talk about their experiences, challenges and problems, and can then quickly act on them.

Short learning cycles means reducing uncertainty from changing environmental factors. Employees are then aware that, if necessary, their company can quickly adapt to a change in situation.

The bottom line: Using OKR and coaching to fight uncertainties

The world of work is in a constant state of change. Especially in today’s world, employers and employees are constantly exposed to new challenges that lead to unfamiliar situations. For a lot of people, these circumstances can cause uncertainties. That means it is important for company leadership to either recognize and eliminate these insecurities or prevent them from developing in the first place. The right business coaching and working with OKRs are two approaches that can help eliminate uncertainty within a company and ensure a pleasant working environment with dedicated employees.