Employee uncertainty: Helping an employee to become more secure

Employee uncertainty: Helping an employee to become more secure

Uncertainty among employees: For many, uncertainty is an obstacle at work. Due to uncertainty, employees dare not ask questions, wrong or no priorities are set. In addition, much is being postponed and agreements are not being met. In short: uncertainty has a negative influence on the decisiveness and assertiveness of employees. In addition, uncertainty in performance and personal growth are in the way. As a manager, you can make a contribution so that employees can overcome their uncertainty. How?

Recognize employee uncertainty

It starts with recognizing an insecure employee as a manager. Uncertainty is not always on the surface of the behaviour. It may well be that an employee compensates for certain behaviour through very assertive, or even aggressive, behaviour. The uncertain employee is therefore not always the employee who sits quietly in a corner and is not assertive.

An insecure employee:

  • Bites off quickly
  • Don’t say much
  • Cannot handle criticism
  • Little comes up for an opinion
  • Often shows ‘pleasing behaviour’
  • Would like to do everything well


To teach employees how to deal with their own uncertainties, you first have to help them become aware of those uncertainties. It is important that employees are aware of the moments when they are uncertain. Awareness is the first step in overcoming uncertainty. As a manager, the trick is to address uncertainty and its consequences in such a way that it does not appear reproachful. So don’t ask, “Why didn’t you deliver the assignment?”, “Are you unsure about your work?” or “Why didn’t you ask?” The employee will try to defend himself in such a case to justify himself and will deny that he is uncertain.

It is, therefore, better, for example, to ask questions about a specific situation and the behaviour the employee was exhibiting at that time in an evaluation interview after a project. This gives him insight into the effect of his uncertainties. But keep in mind in particular that you do not want to condemn but rather understand how certain behaviours arise.

Uncertainty in various areas

The uncertainty of an employee can be caused by various things. First, his uncertainty may be caused by other people. The employee is very concerned about what others think of him. During work meetings, he does not dare to give his opinion for fear of saying something stupid and instead of asking questions, he prefers to find out for himself first. This uncertainty is often reinforced by the image, the level of knowledge or the position of the other person.

  • As a supervisor, you could help employees to break through this uncertainty by not being reluctant to give compliments if work is done properly. Another suitable option is to assure all employees that their work is valuable. The employee, therefore, feels heard and seen.
  • Secondly, uncertainty can be caused by situations that occur in the workplace. An employee can, for example, worry about the economic situation and whether he will keep his job.
  • And third, uncertainty can be caused by the tasks that the employee must perform.

Resolving employee uncertainty

As a manager, it is important to see whether this uncertainty is caused by a lack of knowledge or technology or whether there is another underlying cause. The employee may accept all tasks for fear of rejection, but will therefore be less productive. Therefore, try to ensure that every employee can perform work that suits him and where his qualities can be used. Employees will be more confident if they can perform work that they are good at and for which they are valued. But maybe you want certain tasks to be performed by that one employee so that he can expand his skills. In that case, give him the space to learn and give him permission to make mistakes.

It is of great importance that employees learn how to handle their uncertainties properly. It is a great added value for your organization or company to have confident employees. Self-assured employees are not only more productive but also more decisive and assertive . As a result, they experience less stress and run less risk of a burn-out and other absenteeism


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About the author
My name is Ruud Meulenberg. Owner and founder of Milltain and Meulenberg Training & Coaching.
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