Encouraging a Resilient-Focused Organisation

It is important to exercise resilience, not only as a response to difficult or changing conditions, but also on a day to day basis within your organisation. Life within any organisation is characterised by periods of adversity, and the psychological health of organisations (like that of individuals) hinges on the capacity to bounce back or recover from a significant setback. Organisational resilience links mental well-being with adaptability, sustainability and long-term profitability. Optimising organisational resilience is a core managerial competency.

As a manager, leader or HR adviser, you can help your organisation respond more effectively to current adversity and build resilience and increased adaptability for the future by following some basic guidelines.

Anticipate and acknowledge reality. Know the plans for any major organisational shifts including the timeline and the extent of impact so you can develop a clear communication strategy. Acknowledge the realities of fear and stress among employees and do your best to address them.

Stay involved and keep it personal. Employees respond in highly personal and individual ways to stressful conditions. Become knowledgeable about the stressful effects of organisational change and who will be most vulnerable. The personal touch is important now more than ever, and is part of the foundation of a sustainable, resilient culture.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Explain the context and rationale for changes in the organisation. Monitor the emotional tone of your communications – neither “doom and gloom” nor blind optimism. Take the time to listen – good communication is two-way communication.

Draw on your own and others’ narratives of resilience. Self-awareness is one of your most powerful tools. Think about how you have faced setbacks and adversity in the past and listen for similar stories from your colleagues. Using your personal narrative helps give you credibility which is essential to fostering organisational resilience.

Reassert your organisation’s moral purpose and help employees continue to find meaning in their work. Organisations that weave a sense of moral purpose into the fabric of their cultures cope best with trauma and change. That sense of purpose grows out of core values that enable the organisation to thrive and achieve a special, lasting place in the wider world.

Remember the Three C’s – Control, Commitment and Challenge. Good managers actively separate what can be controlled from what can’t, are honest about the distinction and focus on what is within their sphere of control. They ask for help and continue to communicate high standards of employee initiative, accountability and commitment. Good managers use the language of challenge, understanding that organisational growth and resilience happen only if employees are supported in taking on and meeting challenges.

Encourage and reward innovation and creative problem solving. Linear thinking, conventional problem-solving and group think are the enemies of organisational resilience. Now is the time to encourage out-of-the box thinking and to make sure that a diversity of opinions and perspectives is expressed. Adversity often gives rise to innovation, with many successful ventures gaining a foothold during a downturn.

Maintain an external focus. In a time of anxiety, fear and stress, employees may turn inward losing valuable opportunities to respond to changing market conditions. During times of adversity it is especially important to reach out and strengthen relationships with clients and customers.

If you follow these guidelines you can do more to help your organisation manage any future challenges or changing conditions.

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