Paul Raggio | Ambiguity is poison in the workplace

I went to Disneyland with a friend last week. I hadn’t been for decades. Buying the tickets was a unique experience. Cautionary notes and warnings regarding COVID-19 and masking requirements were pasted throughout the website and on your admission ticket. Once we entered the park, officials reinforced mandatory statements posted prominently on signs to stay socially distant, wash hands and wear a mask while chatting with non-compliant customers. Most of the rides were operational and about 50% of the concession stands were open.

The queues had distance markers stenciled to help you figure out what 6 feet of separation means, and once on a ride all the other rows of seats were empty. After the ride, attendants sprayed the seats with disinfectant before subsequent riders boarded.

The Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines last week. “Fully immunized people can resume their activities without wearing a mask or moving away physically, except as required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including business and government guidelines. workplace. This statement caught many of us off guard, including the White House and the Joe Biden administration, and created a lot of ambiguity among our population. Even the First Lady speaking at an event lamented that she coordinated the colors of her mask and outfit, then waved her mask towards the crowd and happily stuffed it in her pocket.

So this is it! People who have been fully vaccinated, that is, have received both injections with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or one injection with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and have waited the prescribed time, can walk indoors and outside without a mask and little fear of contracting this hideous virus!

Hold your horses, not so fast now! What does the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration say about not having to wear a mask in the workplace? Nothing. Nothing on their website other than the workforce is required to wear masks. OSHA is one of those government regulatory agencies that monitor workplace compliance. Violation of their regulations can result in penalties which can be pecuniary, foreclosures and foreclosures in the extreme.

With these latest recommendations from the CDC, many people are scratching their heads, wondering if I can go to the grocery store without having to wear a mask? And a restaurant? Do I always have to wear a mask before sitting down? And the cinema? I couldn’t wait to go back to the theater, the baseball stadium, the concert, wherever the crowds can be big. Do I have to wear a mask in any of these places? And if I’m forced to wear a mask, why, when the CDC has issued guidelines saying I don’t?

Ambiguity is poison in the workplace, but it prevails. Ambiguity leads to chaos and dissent, and if it is not eliminated, dysfunction and instability ensue. All organizations exist with a certain level of ambiguity. Great organizations recognize the damaging impact of ambiguity and eliminate it where and when they can, bringing clarity and stability to the workplace. An essential management skill is to instill clarity in all organizational systems: human resources, financial reporting, manufacturing, business development, planning and decision making. Within each system are many processes, and within each process are many procedures. Eliminate the ambiguity in every stratification of the system and you will increase the productivity of your workforce and, just as important, their morale.

Large organizations with multiple departments constantly struggle with ambiguity. Without a known goal-driven focus, a clear vision, a cohesive mission, and action-oriented values, and if cooking pipes exist in the organization, ambiguity will thrive. Clear, direct, focused, inspiring and well-coordinated communication from the cascading leader to the most junior manager and constantly understanding and clarifying the intersections of systems, processes and procedures within and between team members of service is the way to eliminate any ambiguity.

I’m assuming Disneyland will abolish the mask mandate on their properties soon, but not before OSHA and other federal, state, and local agencies clarify their mask compliance orders in light of CDC guidelines. Due to poor coordination between CDC and government agencies, there will be a delay in minimizing ambiguity.

Nonetheless, like any other business, Disneyland has an obligation to ensure the safety of its employees and customers. How they choose to do this and whether they follow government orders is a business decision. Their responsibility extends to communicating their decision and why it was made to the public clearly and directly, just as your business should do with its employees, customers and stakeholders. This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Now let’s go!

Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.

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Gail Mena

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