Information Gap: How to Manage Uncertainty

By Marianne Renner: Leadership Coach, Speaker, Author

One thing that’s certain in today’s ever-changing environment is we all deal with uncertainty.

Right now, you or your team are likely facing some kind of transition with many unknowns lurking just around the corner.

The unknown makes most people uncomfortable at best and downright distressed at worst.

It’s a normal reaction. The brain is wired to reduce uncertainty as an instinctive survival mechanism. The more we know, the more we can protect ourselves.

Information Gap

In our need for certainty, when we lack information, our brains stay busy trying to fill in the gaps.

As a result, we worry, ruminate, and imagine worst-case scenarios.

One big danger with this is we’re so busy trying to fill in information where none exists, we remain perpetually distracted and lose focus on the important work at hand. Productivity hits the skids, and important project details slip through the cracks.

Even more dangerous, however, is how we interact with others when we lack information. Efforts to fill in the gaps lead to gossip, rumors, and doomsday assumptions that can completely derail a team during the most critical times.

If you’re leading a team during uncertain times, communication will be your greatest ally to fighting against rumor and gossip.


Here are three points to remember about communication with your team.

Communicate information:

  1. As early as you can
  2. As much as you can
  3. As often as you can

Providing regular updates to your team will help reduce the information gaps. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is providing updates only when there is new information to discuss.

Even if you don’t have anything new to say, the team still needs to hear that. Let them know there are no new updates this week.


Finally, talk to your teams about the dangers of the “information gap.”

Teach them about this automatic response to uncertainty. Awareness is a powerful anecdote to derailing behaviors that can drain energy and slow productivity and permanently harm otherwise good reputations.

If you and your team can be comfortable with the unknown, together, you can rise above the mental chaos.

From that vantage point, you’ll be able to see new possibilities. You’ll find solutions to complex problems and tap into creative ideas.

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