Building team resilience at the speed of change ￼
Building resilient teams not only helps talent create a more engaged, healthier and more productive workforce, but also helps organizations be more effective in responding to and recovering from a crisis or disaster. change. Here are the key areas to focus on when building team resilience.
As organizations grapple with increasingly unstable and disruptive times, the need for a resilient and agile workforce has never been greater. Resilient leaders are more effective at responding to and recovering from a crisis and are better able to create the kind of positive disruption that drives innovation and growth.
Individuals and teams with high levels of resilience are more engaged, productive, and open to change, as well as more responsive to customers. In addition, investments in employee health and well-being have measurable impact on business outcomes such as greater productivity, stronger staff morale and motivation, and greater retention and loyalty.
The what and why of resilience
Resilience can be defined as an individual’s ability to not only bounce back from adversity, but also to bounce back and emerge even stronger from a stressful event. Team resilience is the collective ability of a group to adapt, innovate and thrive in the face of dramatically different circumstances.
While most talent recognizes the value of resilience, resilience remains rare as rates of burnout, anxiety, and exhaustion reach unprecedented highs across all professions and industries. For example, up to 89 % of employees report experiencing burnout in the past year. the negative impacts burnout and work-related stress include emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation, “brain fog” and physical fatigue, which make it harder for teams to focus, complete tasks or juggle responsibilities.
So how can talent cushion the detrimental impact of stress and burnout on their teams and organization? Here are the key areas to focus on.
- Provide perspective
One way to provide perspective is to apply an approach called “Reframe the Tension” which focuses on learning opportunities in adversity rather than despite adversity. With this perspective, teams are more likely to rise to challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, learn from criticism, and be inspired by others.
The practice of reframing can also be cultivated by helping teams develop a growth mindset. A growth mindset allows team members to ask for feedback and continually learn new information over time. A growth mindset has been a key focus of The cultural transformation of Microsoft since CEO Satya Nadella took office in 2014. A series of approaches have been taken to initiate and drive this long-term change, starting with getting senior leaders to talk and model state adoption of growth mindset. Leaders were encouraged to share their successes and use various incentives – games, quizzes and a “mobile empathy museum” – to reinforce desired behaviors with team members. Additionally, the talent team created conversation guides for managers to explore what a growth mindset might look like with their teams.
- Ensuring psychological safety
High performing and resilient teams have one thing in common: psychological safety – the belief that it is safe to take interpersonal risks in their team, such as coming up with unusual or creative ideas without fear of being ridiculed or rejected for taking the word. This sense of trust and security allows members to express their opinions openly and honestly, explore diverse and alternative viewpoints, challenge assumptions, and make sense of complex situations.
This search for meaning also reinforces common understanding of relevant tasks and strategic priorities, while providing greater unity of purpose and clarity of roles. Studies show that teams with high rates of psychological safety are better than other teams at implementing diverse ideas and generating high performance. They are also more likely to stay with the company.
Leaders can use forums such as after-action reviews to create space for teams to reflect and learn from failures and successes. They can organize listening sessions or “cafés” on difficult topics. They can encourage team members to have guided conversations to discuss success stories, challenges, or lessons learned. Other leaders have helped teams generate their own list of “guiding principles” to reinforce common direction, create unity and identity, and build a sense of security among team members.
- Show appreciation and gratitude
Teams that feel their unique contributions are valued and recognized have a higher sense of belonging, increased perception of organizational support, and higher levels of engagement. The risk of burnout increases by 29 percent when there are no consistent organizational strategies for recognition in place.
American airlines stepped up its recognition strategies during the pandemic to help employees stay connected and care for their passengers amid prolonged adversity and uncertainty. Beril McManus, Senior Director, Recognition and Engagement, says, “Helping people feel appreciated gives them the momentum they need to keep going. It lets them know they’re on the right track, being noticed, and people care. When times are tough, it is even more important to do so.
In 2019, the company launched an easy-to-use platform, Nonstop Thanks, to make recognition more accessible and give more than 13,000 team members the opportunity to recognize their peers. By the end of 2020, each people leader had used the platform to recognize team members.
Customer Service Manager, Sebastien Madara, uses recognition to reinforce safe workplace behaviors when its teams board, board, and disembark planes. “When employees are recognized, they go above and beyond to help you. When we are short on staff or manpower, team members volunteer to stay and go the extra mile.
- Prioritize well-being
As teams continue to feel stress from how their lives and work have been disrupted by the pandemic, companies of various sizes and industries find new ways to ensure the well-being of employees. MozillaComment shut down the entire business for a “wellness week”. PepsiCo and Verizon have increased paid vacation and childcare or eldercare benefits, as well as flexible work hours. Shopify has instituted “Rest & Refuel Fridays” globally to encourage employees to recharge and recharge. AT IBM, the talent development team has designed a dashboard called “People Insights & Nudges”, which provides managers with “Fitbit-like” advice on the leadership behaviors they can adopt in real time. For example, nudges encourage managers to consider things like: who hasn’t taken a vacation and is at risk of burnout? Who should participate in a coaching session or a conversation with their mentor?
To foster the kind of employee-centric work climate that reduces burnout and increases well-being, employees of all roles and levels must be encouraged – even expected – to rest, rejuvenate and recuperate for their personal efficiency and well-being and to sustain and sustain peak performance.
- Amplify management support
Leaders set the tone for resilience through the values and behaviors they model, reward and reinforce. Research shows that the demonstrated resilience of supervisors improves the resilience of those they supervise. But manager burnout — especially among millennials — has risen from 27% in 2020 to 35% in 2021, according to a recent report. Gallup report.
One of the essential tasks of talent leaders is therefore to strengthen the personal resilience of managers and equip them with relevant tools to set up safe spaces for teams. At Biogen, senior leaders hold workshops with small groups on trust and psychological safety and how to lead in an environment of uncertainty. Here, senior leaders act as a support network for smaller cohorts to model and reinforce “human centered” leadership behaviors to direct reports. To give leaders time to reflect and recharge, Biogen also hosts a “meetless week” three times a year.
In short, cultivating resilience is not just a benefit, but a strategic imperative for any organization looking to prepare for the next norm of churn and change. Practices that promote a resilient workforce not only build immunity to change, but also contribute to increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, increased job satisfaction, less absenteeism, and a better overall financial performance.
In these difficult times, teams look to leaders for positive support, hope and direction. Although it takes a wide range of cultural levers for resilience to take hold, resilient teams are ultimately built by resilient leaders who have the self-awareness, commitment and compassion to manage their own resilience, while by remaining in tune with the energy and well-being of those they lead. It starts with the intention to present yourself as a resilient coach and role model. How do you and your leaders stack up for team resilience?