In the new era of work and workplaces, perseverance should be a high priority.
As business leaders navigate the beginning of a post-pandemic world, resiliency in the workplace is arguably more important than ever. The pandemic was — and is — a major challenge for everyone, both personally and professionally. How employees bounce back — and how they respond to new challenges — may be different than before. Those in leadership positions must help employees build resilience for the health of the employees and of the company. Building organizational resilience is an opportunity not only to fortify your business, but also to redefine your company culture in this brave new world. (Resiliency is defined as “the ability to persevere, remain focused and move forward with your responsibilities and goals, in spite of obstacles and challenges.”)
A highly resilient workforce can directly and positively impact a company’s bottom line. The qualities that allow an individual to “bounce back” from personal challenges are the same qualities that contribute to focus and accomplishment of business goals. Employees who are highly resilient adapt easier to change, are more productive and have a positive influence on their coworkers. Employees with low resiliency, however, are more likely to have higher absenteeism and turnover, along with reduced productivity.
The cumulative effect of individual resiliency levels in a given organization impacts the business culture and resiliency of said organization during periods of change and stress. Bottom line: Resiliency in the workforce is imperative to long-term success. But how do leaders help build resilient organizations? Here are seven ways to do it:
Play to employee strengths
One of the best ways to build confidence — and thereby resilience — is to put employees in positions that play to their strengths. Take a closer look at which employees excel in which areas, and turn them loose accordingly. Employees who spend most of their days doing tasks they are good at and feel comfortable with tend to be more confident, more effective and more resilient.
Model resilient behavior
Leaders can help their employees build resilience by leading by example. Show your employees how you overcome challenges in the business. It will inspire them to mimic the behavior. Leaders’ actions have a strong effect on the way employees model their own actions. Remember they are looking to you for leadership, culture and behavior — act accordingly.
Create a culture of excellence
In 2017, a team of British researchers (Hardy, Barlow, Evans, Rees, Woodman and Warr) studied the differences between “elite” and “ultra-elite” athletes — like Michael Jordan or Serena Williams. The researchers found that the majority of ultra-elite athletes came from environments that advocated a culture of striving. They grew up in homes where pursuing excellence and pushing the boundaries were always expected, not merely desired. Do the same in your company. If excellence is expected, employees will strive to meet those expectations, and become more resilient in the process.
Help employees build self-confidence
The most potent force for resiliency is self-confidence. You can help your employees build it through positive reinforcement. Make an effort to recognize a job well done, and compliment employees when they model positive behaviors — rather than criticizing them for mistakes. Words of encouragement and regular recognition and appreciation will help build confident, resilient employees.
Be patient — and available
In my work as a family business consultant, I too often observe impatient leaders who expect their employees to have the same knowledge and skillset they do. Take the time to teach your employees, listen to their questions and be patient with them as they learn. This will demonstrate to your employees you value them and want to help them grow. An employee that feels valued is a more resilient employee.
Map out a path
For younger or more entry-level employees, chart a clear path for growth in their careers. Doing so will help them not only grow into highly successful team members but will keep them focused and give them clarity on what the next step is at all times. Conversely, employees who are not sure what they should be doing or where their career is going tend to be more anxious, and less resilient.
Encourage team-based competition
Ask any great athlete how they got better at their craft, and they will undoubtedly tell you that playing with great competition helped them sharpen their skills. Encourage friendly and productive competition among your employees but tie the overall success of a department to the combined performance of individual team members. The goal is to strengthen individual skills, resilience and teamwork. When implemented correctly, competition keeps people focused — and brings out the best in them.
Now more than ever, a resilient workforce will be the key to success for businesses and organizations. Each one of us has had their resilience tested during the pandemic, to varying degrees of success. The world has undoubtedly changed, and businesses must change with it. Building a resilient workforce should be job one for leaders in this new era.