Webster defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” So often change isn’t planned and we’re suddenly operating in a reactive mode. We might get stuck, dig in our heels, resist, deny, or even sabotage change efforts. Even when change is planned, we often don’t consider how critical individual and team resilience is in ensuring a successful change effort. Change management efforts need to begin by creating a resilient workforce so we can move away from managing resistance. It helps to keep in mind that resilience is not a single behavior or skill, rather it’s a combination of attitudes, values and behaviors that can be developed over time and experience.
Let’s look at some of the traits that make up resilience:
- Connection and Collaboration. Reaching out to others, asking for help, supporting others and working as part of a team.
- Emotional Awareness in Self and Others. Having a good understanding of how your own emotions and the emotions of others have a direct impact on productivity.
- Problem Solving Skills. Being able to identify the root cause, generate workable solutions and recommend a course of action.
- Ability to Learn from Mistakes. Being open and honest about your own mistakes and using those as an opportunity for personal growth.
- Optimism. Maintaining hope and positivity when the clouds darken.
- Personal Belief in Self. Judging yourself to be capable of success increases your chances of actual success.
- Goal and Action Orientation. Setting achievable goals and having a bias toward action ensures forward movement.
- Improvisation Mindset. Being able to improvise and consider new ways of doing things. Using “yes, and…” language keeps things moving ahead.
So how do we begin to cultivate resilience? We can bring talent into the organization that already has strong resilience and we can develop these traits through training, simulations, role plays and other on the job experiences.
Hiring for Resilience
When assessing a candidate for resilience, we want to be sure to ask the right questions. We really want to know what triggers a candidate’s emotions in the workplace and how he/she might react. Hiring managers can ask about recent failures or frustrations that a candidate has experienced and how he/she responded, or ask about the last time they were angry, what caused the anger and how the candidate responded to the emotion. Another option is to use a role-play exercise that requires a resilient perspective. Be on the look out for how the candidate sizes up and reacts to the situation.
Resilience training can fall into several training categories: Health and Wellbeing, Change Management and Self Improvement to name a few. One of the best ways to build resilience in a work environment is to provide scenario training or simulations. This type of training guides participants through real life examples with possible responses and outcomes, as well as ideal responses and outcomes. Additionally, micro learning that dives deeper into specific skills such as emotional intelligence, problem solving, team relations and communication can further strengthen an individual’s ability to be resilient.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable and constant. Realigning our hiring and development efforts ensures we already have a resilient workforce in place when the time comes for change. With a workforce armed and ready for change, HR can spend less time managing resistance and focus on managing the change objective.