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  • Writer's pictureRene

Resilience: Weathering the Storm Together

When 2020 started, no one could have imagined the situation(s) that was about to present itself. First, the rapid movement of Covid19 through the world, literally. Then the upheaval as our country was immersed in the effort to bring about a profound change in the racial divide.

In all of this, the need to be strong challenges even the most resilient people, personally and professionally. Seven months in and many of us are still swimming frantically in a sea of confusion, doing our best to stay afloat. Finding coping skills that work for us is more important than ever before. For businesses, the need to be resilient is two-fold: For Business operations and for the employees who make those operations successful.

Much has been written on the way businesses need to pivot and transform to be resilient in this environment. Indeed, in the Learning and Leadership arena, we have seen an almost total shift from in-person to virtual training, and whole LLD departments let go in the effort to cut costs. While this effort might provide some resiliency to businesses who need to cut costs quickly, it has been a massive blow to those who are suddenly without a job, and for those who are suddenly without the people who had been supporting their leadership journey. Oh- and let's not forget that the threat of more layoffs still looms large as the economic uncertainty continues to threaten all of us.

Perhaps our next act as leaders is to recognize the need to help our people build resiliency skills. We need to acknowledge how big a shift this is for everyone in our organizations, and how impactful lack of personal resiliency can be on the business. If our people are struggling to cope with this new paradigm, certainly work will suffer, productivity will be down, and morale will take a nosedive. The list goes on.

While these reasons are undoubtedly crucial to the business, the most important reason is simple- we are human beings in this together. Speaking about healing as a primary value of a Servant Leader, Robert Greenleaf writes, "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have (The ServantLeaderJournal.Com),"

Though it can be overwhelming, research has shown there are some effective ways leaders can help their teams.

  1. Check-in regularly with your staff and ask them how they are coping. Design 3-5 questions to gauge stress levels. Some questions could address the effectiveness of the new environment (if applicable), short answers questions to pinpoint hot spots, and examining communication issues. You might even break this down to specific weekly topics- such as 'working at home', 'managing others from home', 'communicating virtually'. Choose a polling tool that allows for an anonymous response. Remember what I said about the threat of more layoffs looming large? We want people to feel they can be candid. (Check out for a great, inexpensive tool called Poll Guru.)

  2. Encourage community. Social support networks have been shown to build resilience. Offer optional follow-up discussions on your poll topics for the expressives (and others) in the group that need an outlet. Holding virtual coffee chats with no defined topic for simple socialization can also be very helpful. Social networks help to build relationships, which increases support and helps build resilience.

  3. Bring play and fun into the environment. Research has shown that a critical ingredient for resilient employees is that they experience a sense of lightheartedness in the workplace. Gamification is a great way to set up some fun competition in the virtual world (in-person too), and even using LEGO Serious play can be designed for fun and learning. This is also another way of creating community and building relationships.

  4. Offer resilience training in short, easy to digest sessions to present the 'know-how' and build specific skills. In our course, Weathering the Storm -Learning to Build Resilience, we offer four 30-minute sessions that look at the four key elements of resilience: Attention, Thinking, Coping Actions, and Motivation, and then we discuss how to use those skills across home and work. Learning about these four elements allows people to be purposeful about building the skills they need to make it through challenging situations of all types.  For more information, email and we’ll be happy to share more about our incredible learning experiences.

Building resilience in the work environment is tough but necessary. As leaders, we have an obligation to those who partner with us in this business adventure to help them deal with the stress and anxiety (whether internal or external) in the most positive way possible. If we truly are 'all in this together', then we certainly will all win together as well!

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