5 Tips Successful People Use to Deal with Role Ambiguity

Have ever felt like you’re unsure of what you have to do or what is expected of you at work? If you have, you might be experiencing role ambiguity. Rest assured that you’re not alone. There are people who are good at working with uncertainties while there are some who aren’t. For those who aren’t, it’s possible that they might get stressed out more easily when having to work in ambiguous environment. Today, we want to share with you the following tips to help you navigate through your role ambiguity better and enhance your performance at work.

1. Accept Change

Change is inevitable. Oftentimes, when there’s a change in workflow or company structure, it creates ambiguity. The first step to navigate ambiguity is to accept that change has happened and will continue to happen. Things can’t move forward if there’s no change. To gain more clarity about the situation, try talking with your supervisor or anyone involved about the change. If your responsibilities change, look for ways to equip yourself with knowledge and skills that are necessary for you to perform and succeed in your job.

2. Just Do It

Being paralyzed with the lack of information will not get you anywhere. At least take a step forward by listing out the steps that you can take to get the task done. Having the ability to take action without knowing all the details is the key to deal with ambiguity. It’s almost impossible to not make any mistakes along the way, but just know that each mistake is a lesson that you can learn and grow from. In fact, it’s rare for you to have all the information upfront when presented with a situation or problem to solve. The more you can work with less information, the better you’re prepared with the rapidly changing world.

3. Keep Calm and Carry On

Try to approach each task despite how ambiguous they are with a ‘can-do’ and positive attitude. You got into the company with your skills, experience, and education, so use what you have and what you know to complete the task to the best of your ability. Things are not always black and white, so ambiguity can help you get creative in coming up with ways to get things done. It’s also important to remember to stay calm, just know that help is all around. If your supervisor or your coworkers can’t help you, look for other ways to get information such as do some online research or talk to someone who has worked in your role before.

4. Communicate Often

Try to keep yourself in the loop of anything related to you at work by communicating with your supervisor and team members as often as possible. Let them know your plans and progress, which in turn, will encourage them to also share their plans and progress with you. Doing this will keep everyone aligned and move toward the same goals as well as encourage a supportive work environment. It’s also important to ask questions if you’re unsure of something. Asking the right questions can help you get the right answers. Think about who is related to your assigned task, for instance, which team and which job function, and how can they help you with your task. On the other hand, if your question is not about a specific task, but instead, you want understand to your role better and what is expected of you, try talking with your supervisor.

5. Improve Problem-solving Skills

Try to understand what you’re trying to solve by defining the situation or problem and the ideal outcome as best as you can. If you have multiple options to choose from, list out the pros and cons of each option in order to see what would be the best fit for your current situation in terms of feasibility, timing, and overall context. Don’t forget to document your process so you can revisit your options later. By doing this, you’ll be able to use limited tools and information you have to clarify uncertainties and evaluate the situation better, which will then enhance your problem-solving skills. Problem-solving skills can help you navigate ambiguity with an analytical mindset.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s important to be able to keep up with change, be it in your personal or work life. In order to do this, you have to first be able to work with what you have despite not having all the information at hand and make decision accordingly. If you apply the 5 tips that I’ve mentioned, no matter what life throws at you, you’ll be able to deal with it with ease. Good luck!


“7 Tips for Managing Ambiguity in the Workplace.” Indeed Career Guide,


About the Writer

Duanmanus Waraphaskul

Mental Health Consultant

M.A. Psychology in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University