One of the most consistent challenges leaders grapple with as they grow (which is always!) is ambiguity. The continual search for certainty, to define things in a way that is black and white.
Whether it’s creating organisational structures, or dealing with performance issues, or promotions, or creating comp plans – the lack of a black and white answer appears in many places.
The two most common responses I see are either to continually redraw charts or policies in the hope that one such redraft will eliminate the grey (spoiler alert – it won’t), or to define things at a more and more granular level in the hope that more detail will eliminate the ambiguity (it won’t. AND it will make things more complex than useful).
The reality is that although there may be clarity of black and white at the poles (e.g. gross misconduct is usually clear cut by definition), there will ALWAYS be some grey in the middle that needs managing.
To deal with it, we need to do 3 things:
- Get comfortable that there will always be grey;
- Reduce it until it’s easier to manage than to eliminate and no further;
- Get continually better at managing the greyness that remains – clarity on values will be your friend here.
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