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6 Key Tips for Becoming a Better HR Leader in a VUCA World

hr best practices hr leadership hr management Aug 01, 2023

It happens to all of us — you begin your day with a well-organized to-do list and a fresh, focused mind but before you know it there are fifty-five new emails in your inbox, your phone has six voicemails, and three fires have erupted. Put simply; the world is spinning faster than you can catch up and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. So, to survive, you’ll need to develop stronger leadership skills that allow you to become a better HR leader in a VUCA World.

Sound familiar? You may not have heard the term before. VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The term originally came out of the military in the 1990s as a way to assess the various aspects of conflict.  Today it is embraced as our new normal. You’ll be pleased to know; you aren’t the only one affected!

Business leaders have been studying this ever-present phenomenon by gathering feedback from HR professionals and business professionals alike for years.  What is this phenomenon exactly?

Simply put, it’s the fact that we seem to live in a world that does not allow for planning, no matter how we try to reason with this idea. Most people find that no matter how much they plan and create a process, things rapidly change and their plans fall out from under them.

Welcome to the VUCA world.

There is, however, a way to not only survive but thrive in a VUCA world. It comes when business and HR professionals alike identify VUCA situations and are able to use effective tools to address issues in the moment and for long-term for lasting results.  Here are some key tips to help you identify and overcome these VUCA situations.

6 Key Tips for Identifying and Addressing a VUCA Issue or Environment


Watch the world outside of your personal space. This may include a bigger competing company or industry. You can also pay attention to the patterns of other companies and industries that have similar employee populations and/or customers. In Human Resources we can easily do this by watching what state laws are being passed that may not affect us directly today but may come around and have a future impact on our teams.


Ask questions and challenge processes and change by pushing back when you feel that it’s needed. Processes are often done the way they’ve always been done because no one has bothered to challenge those processes for one reason or another.

Employees will always find a way to work smarter instead of harder.  Pay attention to those employees and try implementing some of the interesting trends you observe and see if they increase productivity.

Interpret Data

Try looking at data from multiple angles. Create subsections of data points to determine if certain trends can be found, and don’t be afraid to ask multiple colleagues to review the same data and discuss different views of the same data.

Decision Making

Stop waiting until you are 100 % sure of something or think you have all the information you need to make a decision. Often, we have to make a decision and then adapt as we go. This is the basis of the Agile and Scrum operational processes. Remember: perfection is often the roadblock to progress (and profit!). Realize that a decision can sometimes simply be the foundation of a project and work up from there!


People and processes need to understand, accept, and embrace this new world that we live in. Don’t hesitate to over-communicate and be sure that all levels in your organization understand the end goal. Then, trust your employees to align their actions with the steps necessary to get you there.


Constant evaluation and just-in-time education are the best way to attack the VUCA world that we live in. We don’t know today everything we’ll need to know in a year. Simply accept what you don’t know and find ways to learn when you need to.

The mantra we can live by in a VUCA controlled world is one of accepting what is in front of you and being excited to engage with the future. HR initiatives cannot be set in stone, and it is essential to constantly re-evaluate the needs of employees and the organization as a whole. Perfection should never be the initial goal. Instead, focus on moving ahead and attacking new opportunities that meet goals.

Achieving success in a VUCA world calls for adapting, observing, and most of all learning from those around you.

Thanks for reading!

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