Last year I became deeply interested in the topic of resilience. Partly because I found (like many others) my own personal resilience was being put to the test. After much work, I have come out the other side as a much more resilient and successful business owner. Recently, I was talking to a client about this topic and I realized that the need for resilience in our businesses is just as important as it is for us as individuals. So I have taken this material and have used it to develop 7 keys to build resilience in your business.
Much of this material is based on content from the book “Prosilience”, by Linda Hoopes.
Hoopes defines resilience as “Maintaining high levels of effectiveness and well-meaning while dealing with high levels of challenge and disruption”. Isn’t this exactly what we want our teams and companies to do? We need to remain high-performing even when times are tough. And times are tough, aren’t they?
Seven Keys to Build Resilience in Your Business
When building resilience in us individually, Linda Hoopes describes “resilience muscles”, which we all have and use to develop our own personal resilience. I believe these same “muscles” apply in the business context as well.
1. Develop a culture of positivity and appreciation
The first key to having a resilient organization is developing a culture of positivity recognition and rewards. No one wants to be under-appreciated. And organizations that do a good job with recognition and appreciation have employees that are more apt to weather the storm of adversity.
The keys for this appreciation are that they must be consistent (not an exception, but the rule), authentic (not sounding like the “appreciation comment of the day”), and timely/spontaneous. If you see someone doing something well, recognize them. Don’t wait for the next “all-hands meeting” to hand out an award.
One way to do this is to start every day, every meeting, every conversation with… GRATITUDE. If you begin everything with a statement of appreciation, you don’t have to make it a special event. And encourage others to show gratitude as well.
And if you are working in a virtual environment, as many of us are, take time to reach out with a phone call or zoom call to just be involved with them and show appreciation. Just because we don’t have doors to pop in or cubicles to swing by, doesn’t mean an unplanned visit isn’t appreciated.
2. Build Confidence in Your Team
A key for employee engagement and long-term dedication to your organization is to cast a vision that they can believe in. When they see a vision and they can see that actions are being taken to move toward that vision, your employees will believe in and have confidence in the organization.
Beyond that, you need to embrace team members who not only believe in the vision but have the confidence to carry your banner in whatever capacity they serve. Don’t tolerate excuses. Don’t tolerate a victim mindset. Encourage accountability. Expect accountability.
If you promote a culture of accountability for actions that propel the company toward its vision, then you will develop the confidence of your team members to walk through fire to get you where you want to go. That’s confidence. And that is how you build resilience in your business.
3. Set and maintain priorities
Your time is your most precious asset. Your team should understand this and act accordingly. Practice the 80/20 rule and only focus on the most important things.
We can’t have any more time than we are given. But we can dedicate that time to the things that provide the highest value to the organization. More importantly, we must focus on tasks that infuse your team with energy. If a team is energized because they are working on highly important and innovative work, then they will pursue it with vigor. Give them busy work to do, and you’ll have a team of people who don’t think their job is very important.
I encourage clients to embrace agile management techniques and limit meetings to the most important purposes: casting vision, maintaining alignment, and solving critical problems.
A team that works on the most important things will have higher levels of energy and will better withstand the challenges that come from the outside.
4. Encourage creativity
You must encourage the creative energy of your team. Don’t squash the ideas that come in. This is often a problem in many corporate cultures. The “we don’t do it that way” mindset is everywhere. And it is closely related to the “not invented here” syndrome.
You must be willing to look at things in a new light. Find sources of new ideas. Recognize and reward team members that speak up and contribute thoughts. (Even if they aren’t the best idea).
I also encourage mindstorming with your team and strategic partners. Take a future-back approach to set a vision and then work back to what you need to do today.
When a team has creative energy, they handle disruption more effectively. They readily accept disruption as just another challenge to be overcome… with their creative ideas.
5. Break down silos and encourage connection
One definite outcome of the past year is that we have all suffered from some level of isolation. Working from home, zoom meetings, a lack of networking and socializing… these have all led to us spending more time alone. And while about half of the population are introverts and enjoy a certain amount of time alone. Even the strongest introverts have reported suffering from separation anxiety and miss spending time with their friends and coworkers.
With society slowly moving back to some amount of in-person contact, employers should seek to find ways to form connections for their team members. There are safe ways to bring your team together for a meeting or even for social gatherings like lunches or coffee meetings.
Encourage your team members to find friends and confidants to spend time with. Encourage mentoring and coaching for your teams.
Additionally, you should find groups where accountability is a key component. These groups may be professional peer organizations, religious groups or professional networking organizations. But accountability is key for these to be effective. We need groups that encourage interaction and hold you accountable for achieving results.
6. Get some structure in your life
Uncertainty is the enemy of resilience. Predictability leads to peace and confidence. When we know what to expect in our day and in the week ahead, we have more control. And with more control, we have less anxiety.
Encourage your teams to calendarize their activities. Plan your week ahead. Utilize block scheduling in order to protect their schedule and limit unplanned disruptions.
Sunday evenings are a great time to prepare for the week. The night before is a great time to plan your day. My wife has a great habit of asking me “what my week looks like” on Sundays and “what’s your day tomorrow?” in the evening. This helps me focus on my day ahead and I can plan ahead to reduce anxiety.
So if you want to build resilience in your business, figure out a way to incorporate this into your team culture. Model it from the top. Expect it from your leaders.
7. Experiment with new ideas
Creating a culture where experimentation is encouraged will also help develop a more resilient culture. This way, when your team runs into a problem, they know that they have the freedom to try alternative paths.
A culture rich with experimentation learns from its past. They use storytelling to keep the stories from their past alive. They celebrate past failures, as long as their team commits to learning from them.
Experimentation also means you stretch out of your comfort zone. Encourage your team to try something new. Listen to those crazy ideas. Give them latitude. As one friend of mine always says, “Act fast and fail fast”. It’s the greatest way to learn and get ahead.
Start the effort now to build resilience in your business.
A culture of resilience doesn’t happen overnight. But there are ways to speed up the process. Here are a few ideas:
- Use assessments to determine the behavior styles of your team. This can help improve communications and workflow as we build resilience. (Linda Hoopes also offers a resilience assessments and other tools through her Prosilience website).
- Work with a business coach that is knowledgeable of resilience concepts and can help build them into your culture.
- Start with the teams that already demonstrate resilience. Shore up the loose ends and then build the culture from the inside out.
- Incorporate resilience into your values and vision. Talk about it often.