Managing yourself and others in uncertain times

Have you heard of the VUCA environment? VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Do these sound familiar words to describe your world?

VUCA started in the 90’s in military vocabulary and has become a trendy managerial acronym and a catchall for “Hey, it's crazy out there!”. In the business world it has been used more frequently in recent months given the instability of the markets, uncertainty of employment and a divided government in the run up to the European referendum.

VUCA can be used to describe personal situations too, when faced with things outside our control such as an accident, illness or redundancy.

When I typed the title to this article, my butter fingers hit 'H' first not 'M' , so inadvertently I typed "Hanging yourself and others in uncertain times" - this is rather extreme action and of course unnecessary. Instead I recommend managing VUCA situations with the acronym VUCA ‘take 2’; vision, understanding, clarity and agility.

So in difficult times, you need to have:

  • Vision - Keep focused on your ‘big picture’ and what you’re working towards.
  • Understanding - Be gentle with yourself and others about what they are experiencing and feeling.
  • Clarity - Make sense of the chaos by separating fact from fiction and exploring all options.
  • Agility - Be prepared to keep changing direction and try another path if what you’re doing isn’t working.

And whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep having a go, keep trying and keep learning. In the words of Winston Churchill, “All will be well!"

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