A word we keep seeing as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the word Resilience. This word has been bandied about of late in the business development jargon of the corporate word. In view of that, it might be useful to examine what the term Corporate Resilience actually means.
According to Mark Murphy, a senior contributor at Forbes and a New York Times bestselling author, founder of Leadership IQ, "...resilience is your ability to quickly bounce back from failure, adversity, rejection, criticism, tragedy, stress and more."
From a business point of view, this obviously cuts across both employee and employer paradigms.
Murphy goes on to say that the past few months have tested everyone's resilience in a myriad ways and while some have bounced back incredibly quickly, others have been stuck in the rut of negativity, rumination and blame. How do leaders ensure that their business and their employees fall in the former and not the latter?
A key point to note is that having high resilience thresholds does not mean that we will never experience failure or periods of stress. The test of one's corporate resilience should not be one that is adverse to failures or distress. Rather, it is recognising that it is through experiencing periods of failure that one can learn how to bounce back from them.
Here is an interesting way of looking at the definition of corporate resilience: it is your company’s immune system; if it's in good shape and something bad happens, the health of your business can bounce back more easily. In other words, having corporate resilience will prevent your business from falling and staying ill.
If you are in a position of leading an organisation or owning your business, what are your views on supposed failures? And, how are you supporting your employees to deal with such perceived failures?
Murphy observes that resilient people generally do not view crises as "insurmountable problems". Rather, they choose to manage their negative feelings and channel it towards transcending the issues or hiccups. While they may not necessarily be any better at eliminating or avoiding difficult times, the key difference is that they do interpret and respond to difficult times differently than people with low resilience.
In other words, it is a question of perspective. The key to unlocking resilience may well be building in the "right" mindset to win the business from ground up, the mindset to view setbacks as learning ground to propel you to greater heights. To view failures as a means to an end but not an end in itself. An effective leader would help by stepping in to encourage their teams to look at it as an opportunity to learn from failures and adversity and to recover from them.
There are many ways to do this but it is imperative for the entire team to remember a time when things were not rosy and how they managed to transcend those difficulties to come to where they are now. Being able to navigate feelings of negativity to transform them to collective motivation and overcome this unprecedentated situation is how leaders crack the code to corporate resilience.
Investing in a Resilient Foundation for Your Teams
Many organisations spend money investing in insurance and other run of the mill trainings than they do on resilience. You are unlikely to get a full payout from your insurers and no amount of money can salvage a damaged reputation or regain customer trust. Investing in resilience offers a better rate of return and enables you to enjoy a payout, irrespective of whether something bad happens. So how do you invest in resilience? You never really know if you’re resilient until you test it and we all have different levels of resilience based on our own experiences, therefore, how would leaders successfully stress test their employees' resilience levels in a safe environment?
Start by giving your corporate immune system regular and thorough health checks instead of waiting for a pandemic or crisis to hit. For example, allocate mini projects for your teams such as facilitating a stakeholders' meeting, leading a presentation to an important client or a transformational project that drives significant change inside your company.
This helps to reveal evidence of a weakness in your corporate immune system early and collectively as a whole company, you can reset and start setting or reviewing strategic objectives.
Fundamentals in Place
Once you have stressed test your people and reviewed the steps needed to achieve these strategic goals, build these key components of resilience into your operating models and change management systems. Integrate them as part of your organisation’s DNA. What is also good foresight, would be for leaders to see beyond the bounds of your organisation to the extended partners, that is, third parties and all those who contribute to your resilience. Clients will look upon your organisation as one which has visionary leadership that has invested wisely in resilience and continuously measures and monitors resilience by building robust metrics into their KPIs.
Take small steps to ease in these metrics for your employees - Create a resilience program that help your management empower resilience. There is no end state with resilience, so continuous building and development is critical. It will help your teams stay focused – knowing where they are strong, where they are vulnerable and helping you stay aligned with your strategic objectives.
This Covid-19 situation has brought so many businesses, companies and even governments to their knees due to lack of foresight and poor reaction to risk management. No one knows how long this pandemic is going to stretch out. Yet many are still not making the connection between resilience and success. Be the breakthrough and allow our teams at Engaging Leaders to help you make a wise investment in building resilience into your people. Leaders do not need to lack the capabilities, tools and approaches needed to make their investment in resilience effective, and too few understand or measure the factors that contribute to their resilience long term. Let us crack the code with you in corporate resilience and become better prepared for any unprecedented situation, embed long-term resilience in your teams and protect your company's reputation and returns on investments.
Monica Tan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Tan, Engaging Leaders, leads our clients through a journey of performance and change. With more than 15 years of client and project management experience, she serves as a key advisor to our clients.