VUCA in HR: What Leaders Need to Excel in This Era

VUCA Era (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity)
VUCA: Age of Change

What VUCA Really Means?

We are now living in an age of change characterized as: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It’s a combination of four different types of challenges that demand four different types of response. Knowing it’s a crazy age we are living in, how do we as leaders identify, face, and respond accordingly?

Based on Harvard Business Review, here are some approaches you can use to respond to VUCA Era accordingly:

1. Complexity

It’s a situation that has many interconnected parts and variables. Some information is available or can be predicted. But the volume or nature of the problem can be overwhelming to process.

Example: Starting business in other countries and have to deal with all different kinds of regulation and tariffs.

Approach: Restructure, bring on or develop specialist, and build up resources to address complexity.

2. Volatility

A situation where there is unexpected or unstable challenge for unknown duration. The situation isn’t hard to understand and information about it often available.

Example: Prices fluctuate after natural disaster, causing supplier to go off-line.

Approach: Build-in slack and devote resources to be prepared. For example, stockpile inventory, overbuy talents, etc. These steps are expensive, so our investment should match the risk.

3. Ambiguity

Facing problem that is unknown, cause of a problem is totally unclear.

Example: Deciding to launch product that is new and outside of our competencies.

Approach: Understanding cause and effects of a problem using hypotheses and then testing them. Also, design experiment that can be broadly applied.

4. Uncertainty

Lack information of the situation, but basic cause and effects are known. Change is possible but not given.

Example: Competitor’s pending product launch muddies the business future.

Approach: Invest in information, collect, interpret, and share it. This works best in structural change, such as adding information analysis networks that can reduce on going uncertainty.

VUCA Era Approach
Approaches to Face VUCA Era

Today’s VUCA World for HR Leaders 

To thrive in this era, we need to adapt our leadership mindset and strategies. It’s no longer about finding the one way or one management tools. We must seek new orientation and fresh approach to management.

Our Role

As a leader, we are responsible for those new orientation and fresh approach. The VUCA world challenges us to find our own way. We need to understand the psycho-logic and develop empathetic behavior – in short, to be more concerned with humans and their needs.

What Leaders Need to do to Excel in This Era? explains what VUCA means for our leadership and strategies:

1. Have Vision

Picture the future we want together. This vision works as a goal for us and our team. Allowing us to have more motivation and forging effectiveness.

2. Develop Understanding

Understand interconnections and make them transparent. We need to harmonize skills and leverage each other’s strengths in order to work productively. Embrace and exploit behaviors and reactions, because each behaviors (strengths) is unique and can be useful for the team. Also, we need to convert anxiety and resistance into productive energy.

3. Have Clarity

Be simple and focus on what counts and what it’s really about. We need to apply energy and forces exactly where it will be effective.

4. Adaptability / Agility

Be flexible and agile. Leaders need to promote culture of making decisions and account for mistakes. Teams need to interact with objection transparently and facilitate innovation to build up resilience.

People are the Success Key of Every Company

This era requires us to anticipate the future and strengthen cooperation. Engagement and cooperation are basic provision for innovation. Leveraging each team member’s strengths is a must in order to achieve the best possible results.

How to leverage each other’s strengths? First we need to know our team better in terms of their motives and strengths (behavior). Then, as a leader we will be able to choose whose strengths to use to complete a task. This way, we can improve team effectiveness, build better communication, and prevent conflict in organization. The best way to discover each team member’s strengths is by participating in team effectiveness training. Contact us for more info on how to improve team effectiveness in workplace. Mail us at: or click here.

Check out our cool video on VUCA:

If you are interested to know how much does conflict costs your organization (monetarily), check out our conflict calculator here

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