Building a Resilient Team

Building a Resilient Team
Image Source: nick fullerton

Resiliency is the ability to endure high levels of change while maintaining a high level of performance. There are commonly two things that resilient people do to increase their ability to manage change successfully. They either increase their capacity to absorb shock, or they work on reducing the amount of effort needed to successfully implement any one change.

Related: Resilience Outcome Based Team Building Activities

What is Resiliency?

Rather than an absolute characteristic, resilience is a combination of character traits in people. Resilient people tend to see more opportunities than non-resilient people. They tend to see life’s challenges and changes as beacons guiding them through life. They have an optimistic view of life that see each day as a new set of opportunities and choices. To them any disruption is merely a necessary part of adjusting to change. Less resilient people are likely to use defense mechanisms such as denial, distortion and delusions when faced with change. They tend to be reactive where resilient people are more proactive and willing to ask for help when needed.

Why is Resiliency Important for Your Team?

A Resilient team tends to grow stronger from the experience when they are confronted with the ambiguity, anxiety and loss of control that accompanies change. A team that is not resilient will tend to feel depleted from all the emotions that come with change. Resilient team members are able to make quicker and more effective adaptation to change. They understand that the future contains shifting variables, and are willing to remain loyal during periods of disruption. The individual members of your team may shift between sides of the resilience continuum, depending on the nature of the change experienced.

Practical Steps to Build Resiliency in Your Team

  • Help your team members to develop a more positive world view and self-image. Be aware of what you say to yourself and your team in an unfamiliar situation. Teach your team to identify opportunities in the challenges they face during a period of change. Get them to practice the habit of turning negatives into positives and taking a time out during a period of frustration. Make sure that you always stay positive as leader or coach of your team.
  • Maintain a sense of purpose towards the long term goals and priorities of your team. Get together with your team and discuss the team’s value system and sense of direction. Teach your team to be flexible and set new priorities when faced with disruption or change.
  • Encourage flexible thinking in your team so that they are able to explore different approaches for addressing uncertainty. Teach your team members not to assume that the first answer is the solution and to suspend judgment while they are experiencing change. Encourage the team members to record at least three negatives and three positives about every new idea or concept. You also want to encourage readiness in your team members to work in an unfamiliar role and to learn a different point of view.
  • Teach your team to use organized and structured approaches towards managing ambiguity. They should learn to quickly and effectively sort new information and find patterns in new situations. Encourage the use of planners and planning software to keep to-do lists, track plans, commitments and next steps for each change initiative. Help them to break down complex or ambiguous situations into manageable chunks.
  • Let your team experiment proactively with new approaches and solutions. Choose a small project and experiment with a new approach. Challenge your team by defining a worst-case scenario and asking them to list ways to address each risk. Find a successful risk-taker to talk to your team about their objections and concerns regarding change. Encourage your team to view a risk associated with change as a “win-win” situation and to determine what they can learn from each risk associated with change.

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