Navigating Ambiguity

Maintains focus and productivity in uncertain situations or without complete information.

Key Behaviors
  • Anticipates impact to projects and/or work when there is a shift in strategic direction.
  • Remains calm and focused, maintaining composure, when things are uncertain .
  • Accepts that change and uncertainty are a normal part of the work environment.
  • Maintains focus in high-change and complex work environments.
  • Understands cultural norms and perceives organizational and political sensitivities when seeking additional information to reduce impact of uncertainty.
  • Develops scenarios or options in response to uncertain conditions to anticipate possible outcomes.
  • Recognizes others' discomfort and models productive behaviors, provides information, or shares perspective to limit anxiety and maintain positive engagement levels.
  • Develops new procedures in response to changing and fluid situations.
  • Initiates action based on available information, even when final outcome is not clearly defined.
  • Achieves work objectives in uncertain, chaotic, or volatile situations.
  • Takes calculated risks when limited information is available.
  • Makes or escalates decisions appropriately without having the total picture or when complete information is unavailable.
  • Maintains productivity when new or altered procedures are implemented.
  • Shifts gears when presented with new information, priorities, and/or direction.
  • Works to achieve task or project outcomes even when the complete picture or scope is unknown.

Developmental opportunities for this competency are available from the NIH Training Center.

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