The pressure of modern business life is very often daunting. Expectations are high and employees have to juggle work responsibilities with family life, friends and things they are passionate about. And to make everything even more difficult, one aspect has become pretty much the norm in organizations around the globe: change.
It happens so much and so often that there are entire teams dedicated to transformation management. Because as frequent and necessary as it is, change is not easy, nor easily handled by teams and individuals.
People tend to resist change, fight against it and a lot of times experience quite a lot of frustration and a sense of loss when it occurs.
Change generates energy
Whenever it happens, change in organizations generates a lot of energy. Unfortunately, most of this is harnessed in a negative way, towards disappointment, anger and eventually disengagement. Organizations that seek to not only survive big transformations but also thrive once those are complete, need to take all that energy and refocus it towards constructive attitudes and endeavors.
To sum it in just one word, they need to build organizational resilience.
This is the ability to handle changes in a positive way, constantly looking for the opportunities and learning moments. Resilient individuals have the ability to recover from the natural disruption of change and move forward with confidence.
3 Core aspects of building organizational resilience
Since the natural reaction to change is to resist (if not straight-out fight it), it’s clear that transformation managers, together with HR and L&D specialists need to find the best ways of promoting resilience and developing those particular skills that support it.
Just as is the case with other desirable behaviors, simply telling people to exhibit them is not enough. Asking people to be empathic, for instance, does not lead to greater acceptance and better relationships. It has to be taught, practiced and encouraged over a longer period of time before it becomes an integral part of the organizational culture.
Resilience is built in the same way, over time, with no small amount of effort from all involved. Here are the three most important things that must be present in an organization that wants to build and encourage resilience among its employees:
People should be confident about themselves and the future
The first ingredient of resilience is confidence. People who trust themselves, their team and their environment are a lot more likely to have a constructive approach to change, land on their feet and find the opportunities that arise with a new state of things.
Therefore, the focus should be placed on developing self-esteem and making sure that individuals feel good about their competency and skill sets. People who feel good about how and where they are generally have a growth mindset and thrive in an organizational culture centered around learning.
It’s important to constantly support the message that novelty means progress and opportunity rather than loss and disruption. The question at the end of every transformation process should be the old-fashioned (yet so valuable) parenting question: What have we learned from that?.
Employees need to see the point of all their efforts
Another key aspect having to do with resilience is purpose. There is a lot of talk these days about how important it is for employees to have a clear sense of purpose in order to work with and for an organization.
Individuals who adhere to where the company is going and feel it is the direction they prefer are especially resilient. These employees will demonstrate a strong drive and direction with established goals. They will remain persistent when setbacks happen and will further develop their already strong problem-solving abilities.
There is an old saying – „where there is a will, there is a way”. People who feel that all the effort they are putting in is for something of value will find the right paths to meet the objectives and if these paths don’t exist yet, they will build them from nothing.
Adaptability is essential
Last but equally important is adaptability. Once more, this is a quality that is cultivated rather than innate. It takes some level of introspection and the capacity to discern between external obstacles and those created in our mind. It’s also a question of picking one’s battles and being comfortable with loss of control to some extent.
Adaptable people are on the look-out without being worried too much. They are aware of their own strengths and tend to see the glass as half full – they are what we call optimists who recognize opportunity where others may see threat.
Adaptability is built by focusing on positive attitudes and emotions, finding a clear sense of purpose and building a strong social network of support. Developing some good coping mechanisms and strategies is also important in coming out on the good side of change.
Since dealing with minor and major transformations is not optional in our fast-paced modern world, resilience is soon becoming an attribute worth having. It ensures not only professional and personal success but also an overall positive outlook on life.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.