Strengthening your Organizational Resilience

Mark Dillard
By: Mark Dillard
Date: November 13, 2020

The global pandemic required businesses to respond quickly and make changes to how work gets done, but it has also created permanent change for the future. We are in new territory and the structure and complexity of this change is unique and atypical. Leaders are increasingly faced with the challenge of ensuring their people stay focused, engaged, and productive and with the pressure of continued uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that companies invest in strategies to strengthen resilience post-pandemic.

While leaders have been doing their best to respond to new challenges, it has primarily been a reactive cycle of problem solving. This was an unsurprising and expected stance during the early part of the pandemic, but it’s not a sustainable position from which to navigate the continuing uncertainty and volatility we can expect to see over the next 18-24 months.

Organizations are not well positioned to adapt this new organizational context, one that will continue to be typified by recurring disruption and anxiety. In the near term, the lack of adaptive capability will result in employee “drift” and disengagement. Over the long term, organizations will see a decreasing ability to quickly and efficiently respond to changes, leading to a potential erosion in productivity and innovation. This may also result in employees becoming increasingly disconnected from the organization’s culture, values, and strategic priorities.

A Strategic Pause and Focused Action

Organizations need a proactive and strategic reset: an interruption in the cycle of reaction to assess the overall level of organizational resilience against three key factors:  transformational leadership, personal resilience, and change agility.

  • Transformational leadership – The collective ability of an organization’s leaders to guide teams through change and raise others to a higher level of performance.
  • Personal resilience – The ability to of individuals and organizations to respond to disruptive change by bouncing forward with a learning orientation.
  • Change agility – The ability to be nimble in the face of change, and to quickly and intentionally respond to changes in a way that minimizes risk, disruption, and resistance.

​The assessment is an opportunity for senior leaders to take a pulse check on the effectiveness of the organization’s response to the pandemic, but also to look forward and understand key points of leverage needed to strengthen capability across all three factors. An assessment provides clarity and visibility through the voice of employees and a catalyst for leadership dialogue on where to prioritize focused action to strengthen resilience.

Strengthening an organization’s adaptive capacity now will enable more than a reactive stance to changes. It will build the foundation to bounce forward through the disruptive chaos of the changes we are currently facing along with future challenges. Organizations will thrive by being more agile, resilient, and adaptive.

Investing in building resilience also reinforces leadership commitment to the well-being of employees by simply asking for input to measure strengths and weaknesses as it relates to resilience.  It starts the conversation on what we’ve learned about how resilient the organization is and how to effectively move forward as an agile, dynamic organization.

While many organizations are clearly tightening budgetary spend, this simple assessment will enable leadership to move forward with intent and take immediate steps to address any potential red flags while also drawing on identified strengths.  It’s a foundational starting point to elevating a business’ ability to build resilience and a focused and proactive call to action. With the assessment as a discernible starting point, leaders can begin to map out the road ahead.

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