Learn more about how a mindset of resilience within each of your team members can help your organization to respond better to instability and uncertainty.
your organization goes through unstable or challenging times, it’s critical
that everyone on your team adopt a mindset of resilience.
mindset of resilience is:
- The capacity to
continue to develop despite disruption – for example, being able to adapt to
changing circumstances, incorporate new behaviors and follow new processes
- The ability to
let go of what makes you comfortable
- A tolerance for
Why is a mindset of resilience important?
Darwin phrased it best: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most responsive to change.”
of changes that
could upend your workplace and test the mental fortitude of your team to
- Pandemics, such
- Severe economic
- Technology disruptions
- Incidents of
- Natural disasters
your business to survive and even thrive amidst this type of turmoil, your team
needs to be flexible.
of their ability to cope with change will be due to their own natural
other piece of it is environmental. How can you, as a leader, create a positive,
supportive atmosphere that can help to guide everyone through a turbulent
period? Let’s explore this topic further.
Linear thinking versus a mindset of resilience
is it that having a mindset of resilience can be such a challenge for many of
creatures of comfort.
much as we may realize that change can lead to good outcomes – after all, it’s
the impetus for innovation, evolution and growth – we can often resist change.
why it’s our norm to revert to linear thinking and processes: Step 1, Step 2,
Step 3, etc. It’s what we’re familiar with, it’s what we’ve been trained to do
and it generally leads to a predictable outcome.
almost always, linear thinking will fail employees in a crisis – especially
those situations involving multiple changes at once, back-and-forth fluctuations
and uncertainty of the future. These situations call for flexibility, agility
and more out-of-the-box problem solving.
processes your employees are accustomed to following may no longer be relevant
or adequate for resolving the challenges that your organization now faces.
There also may not be a clear beginning, middle and end to the challenges
plaguing your organization.
thinking can trap us into thinking there’s only one acceptable way of doing
things, which blinds us to other possibilities.
this situation, linear thinking can make employees feel “stuck,” and prevent them
from moving forward and finding success in whatever the “new normal” is.
Employee health and well-being
else is a mindset of resilience critical?
underestimate the physical and emotional toll that workplace disruptions can
have on your employees – particularly those who struggle with resiliency.
changes or crises happen, some of your employees may immediately think:
- Is the
- Is my job
- How do I
fit into the new landscape?
- What’s the
demand for my skill set?
- If the
worst happens, how will I pay my bills and provide for my family?
- Will I be
needed anywhere else?
extreme stress related to job security and finances can affect one’s physical
health. The hit that an employee’s ego and sense of worth can take can also harm their
someone on your team has a poor relationship with their direct manager, and
therefore minimal environmental support, their fears will be exacerbated along
with the physical and emotional toll on them.
negative thinking can be toxic within your team because:
- It can impact
productivity and quality of work.
- It can cause
employees to become self-focused and withdrawn, resulting in failures to help
each other and identify larger opportunities for your company.
- It tends to be contagious, spreading from one team member to another
short, it can absolutely impair your company’s ability to get through changes
Stages of getting through crises
help your team navigate changes and crises, you need to understand what the
typical reaction to a loss of normalcy looks like and the emotions that people
commonly experience in these scenarios.
team will go through a process similar to the Kübler-Ross change cycle: An initial period of shock and a
collective sense of trauma and loss, followed by denial, anger, depression,
acceptance and integration. As a final stage, people tend to try to find
meaning following change, according to research.
the way, people can relapse into previous stages.
people will advance through the stages much faster, depending on their
most people reach a place of transcendence over the challenge at hand, release
what’s painful, make meaning of the situation and move on within the “new
Promoting a mindset of resilience
let’s discuss what you can do to:
- Sidestep linear
- Safeguard the
health and well-being of your employees
- Help your
employees advance through the change curve faster
- Encourage a
mindset of resilience
Acknowledgement of the situation
let panic and rumor spreading take root within your team.
important to bring your team
together to confront the issue head on.
- What’s happened
- The known impact
on the business (so far)
- What can be expected
in the immediate future
- What employees
can do at the current moment (if anything)
eliminates some of the mystery and uncertainty.
Discussion about the locus of control
understanding what we can’t control
often makes us become more controlled
and mindful in our actions.
a group, talk through what your team has no control over versus what your team
What you can’t control: All externalities
- The changes or
- What other
companies in your industry do
What you can control and what fosters forward
momentum: Your reaction to these externalities
behavior and mindset
- Clarity of
- Care shown for
Communication and transparency
done right, your
communications with your employees can create a sense of stability and
connectivity – both of which are critical in preventing feelings of panic and
isolation. People need to feel like they know what’s going on and are included
in the solution.
1. Assemble a team from your existing staff focused solely on communicating about the crisis at hand.
2. Communicate only what you know for certain.
Don’t engage in speculation – this
only introduces uncertainty. Speculation can also give people false hope or
3. Focus more on what you’re committed to doing during the recovery and stabilization process rather than what you can promise.
The difference in commitment versus promise
can seem like semantics, but a promise often carries more weight and feels more
But a promise can also be more
dangerous. When you’re dealing with a fluid situation, promises can be
difficult to keep no matter how good your intentions are. You’ll want to avoid
the perception that you’ve lied to your team.
4. Convey a plan – or that you’re in the process of creating one.
Your team will want to know what’s
next and that you’re doing something to prepare for it. Even if you don’t have
a lot of information to share, share what you can. This will help to reduce
a contingency plan if conditions shift.
5. Use a variety of communication media to reach everyone on your team.
When selecting media, consider the length, complexity and urgency of your messaging, as well as the type of business and workforce you have.
Talking to employees face to face is often
ideal, especially during major changes or crises.
However, if you have a remote or widely distributed workforce, or face-to-face interaction isn’t necessary
to convey a particular message, you can employ other media:
- Text messages
- Video messages
or conference calls
- Regular mail
6. Know that the frequency of and need for communication may diminish over time.
At the beginning of a change or crisis, you might communicate with
your team daily. As the situation stabilizes, communication might taper off to a
Prioritization and time management
Clarify for your
team what’s important right now. This is what they should direct their focus
- What are your
most critical concerns?
- Which tasks or
projects require a sense of urgency?
- Which tasks or
projects can be set aside temporarily?
This prevents people from wondering what they should be doing and whether they’re adding value and avoids wasting time and resources.
concentrate responsibility for all the important tasks that must get done at
the top of your organization. You’ll only make yourself and other senior
leaders overwhelmed and stuck in the weeds.
delegate what you
other team members and their direct reports further down the organizational
people tasks gives them a sense of mission and purpose, as well as security. The
last thing you want is for people to feel idle and not useful – that’s not
conducive to a mindset of resilience.
tasks can also promote:
- Agility and
better planning (you’re free to focus on the bigger picture and next steps)
- Identification of
- More idea-sharing
and collaboration across the team
- Discovery of new
talents and assets in certain employees
Rejection of linear thinking
with your team in moving past how things used to be done.
- Reset expectations about what the foreseeable future looks like. Make it clear that there will be unknowns and shifts in conditions to help increase employees’ comfort with ambiguity.
- Establish new goals, no matter how small or short-term.
- Discuss what’s changed, such as:
- Work processes
- Physical workspace
- Team composition
- Reporting structure
- Business model
- Challenge prior assumptions and constraints.
- Develop problem-solving mentalities.
- Encourage ideas, recommendations and creativity.
- Explain why a positive mindset and willingness to adapt is so important. Emphasize that this is a trait your organization values.
Employee assessment and engagement
in with your team regularly about how they’re doing. You’ll want to help
employees who are struggling, demonstrate concern for your people and nip any
negative attitudes in the bud.
can be done through:
- Quick pulse surveys
- Sent via email or
text to employees
- 10 or fewer
questions, including both quantitative and qualitative questions
- Sent via email or
- Small or
one-on-one team meetings in which more reserved people may feel more
comfortable speaking up
- Large meetings in
which people have an opportunity to voice concerns directly to leadership
employees show signs of struggling, have options ready for alleviating stress. This
should be part of your organizational culture. Your attentiveness to employee
well-being can also reduce unnecessary medical or workers’ compensation claims.
of what you can provide for employees:
train your managers to:
- Establish supportive, positive interactions with their direct reports
- Lead people at different stages of change and crisis acceptance
- Lead people with different personalities
of an employee’s mindset at work is tied to their relationship with their
immediate supervisor. A manager who projects warmth, openness, caring and
confidence will help your employees to feel more secure despite uncertainty.
an employee clearly needs more time to adapt, be flexible and allow some grace.
Everyone deserves a period of time to assess their capacity for resiliency and to
make adjustments. Consider how you can accommodate their personal needs without
negatively impacting your business or consuming too many resources during a
time of crisis.
Summing it all up
Changes can be incredibly difficult for your employees. It can call into
question everything that’s familiar to them in the workplace and even affect
their physical and emotional well-being. Furthermore, their adverse reaction
can prevent your business from overcoming a crisis. That’s why, as a leader,
you should promote a mindset of resilience:
acknowledge challenges and negative events
employees what they can control
regular communication and transparency
areas of focus
tasks to team members
past linear, step-by-step thinking
in with your team regularly to gauge well-being
more information about guiding your team through periods of instability and uncertainty,
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