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Signs of Strength


April 25, 2014

Do you remember the last time the fire alarms bells sounded at your workplace?  You left the building (calmly and without stopping to gather personal belongings, of course!) to gather at the designated location, shivering in the cold, waiting for clearance to go back inside.  As inconvenient as these times can be, there’s something reassuring to know that there are plans in place, that people know what to do, that records are kept and that lessons are learned. After all, it’s your health and safety being looked after!

Alarm Bells!

Now, imagine if you worked for an organisation that had little regard for such issues around what is commonly called ‘Business Continuity’.  Imagine if, when you asked why, you were given one or many of the following reasons.  Think of your counter-argument as you read each one:

  • It’ll never happen to us
  • It hasn’t happened to anyone else
  • We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it
  • Our current methods are robust enough
  • We’ve survived before so we can do it again
  • Our people should be good enough to deal with these sort of things
  • It’s a risk we’re prepared to take
  • It’s not in our culture

I’m sure, in the subject of managing risk, making sure that your business can continue in the face of emergencies and unforeseen situations, your organisation has plenty of work in progress.  It’s what makes your organisation ‘resilient’.

Let’s Get Personal

So your organisation is almost certainly working on its resilience.  But let’s make this personal.  What emphasis does your organisation put on reinforcing and building the resilience of each of its employees – including everyone from senior managers to front-line employees?  Do you hear excuses from the list above?

Resilient organisations need resilient people.  Resilient people are those who are forward-looking, risk aware and pro-active.  Resilient people are those who can deal with all their current tasks and challenges by thinking clearly about their priorities, identifying their level of stress (which might not always be destructive) and have a range of working practices to use to continue to perform well.  Resilient people are those who learn from past experiences and maintain a sense of positive perspective so that they are not inhibited by regret or by ‘beating themselves up’.

Signs of Strength

Undoubtedly it might feel like a risk in admitting that you could learn to be more resilient – individually and collectively. But isn’t this a sign of strength rather than weakness?  Isn’t it saying that you want to be prepared for the eventualities that the world of work (and life outside) will throw at you?  Isn’t it saying that ‘Business Continuity” includes your resilience too?  Surely that’s a strength?

A big challenge to the case for promoting the development of personal resilience is the calculation of the return on investment (ROI).  In many commercial, hard-nosed, budget-driven organisations, you’ll hear the leadership community say words to the effect of  “it’s all ‘soft’ stuff and we’re about hard results”.  Well, our replies could include asking

  • How do you quantify the potential savings you’d make when your people maintain a high level of performance during challenging times?
  • How do you quantify the time lost through sickness absence due to stress-related illness (both physical and mental)?
  • How do you quantify the extra time taken to make key decisions and get tasks done by those who feel overwhelmed?

In my view, it’s vital that the development and reinforcement of personal resilience is discussed at the most senior levels of organisations, without fear of looking weak or being too ‘soft’.  Strong organisations depend on it.

We are experienced in designing and delivering programmes focusing on reinforcing and building personal, leadership and team resilience.  Contact us to discuss and progress your ideas and plans – or call +44 (0) 7840 323585

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