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10 Tips for Building Resilient Organizations

Building resilient organizations is important in a changing corporate climate. Learn everything about building resilient organizations here.

By Kate Dagher  •   January 25, 2023  •   8 min read

Resilient organizations go further than simply handling change. They know how to optimize change or misfortune and use it to grow and become even stronger. This kind of resilience is not easy to achieve and takes significant time and effort in trial-and-error situations. As organizations face challenges, management needs to become more effective at rapidly assessing the situation, redirecting their strategy, identifying what is working, and discarding anything that isn’t. 

Major changes in workplace environments and in business strategy, such as those prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to surface again as a different pandemic, epidemic, or disaster may occur. It’s best to be prepared for these scenarios of massive change where decision-making needs to be sharp and prompt. Those who are committed to building resilient organizations will be driven not only by a crisis but will also be able to identify opportunities to become better than before. For that reason, this article will cover best practices and elucidate how building resilient organizations can create emotional safety for employees and help the business thrive. 

What is organizational resilience? 

Organizational resilience refers to a company’s ability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and adapt to any level of change or disruption that occurs, while ensuring that the business remains the least affected as possible. As companies continue to practice building organizational resilience, there will be fewer situations where employees and management are taken by surprise and more situations where there is an existing framework that can be implemented to handle the scenario as effectively as possible. 

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Benefits of organizational resilience 

  • Adaptability: Organizations that build resilience also build an ability to adapt to various situations and make the most of them. 
  • Team building: Resilient organizations collaborate and draw on the ideas of all of their employees to create the most effective strategic plans on how to move forward while facing change or disruption, bringing the team closer together.  
  • Innovation: Teams need to think outside of the box when they are faced with unexpected changes, which can bring about effective brainstorming and innovative ideas. 
  • Emotional safety: People are more likely to remain with a company if they know that the organization has a solid track record of overcoming challenges and coming out of them even stronger than before.

Tips to build resilient organizations 

1Have a leadership mindset 

Building resilient organizations means having a leadership mindset. Looking ahead at your trajectory, it’s essential to note that leadership is so much more than a title. What really matters is the impact that you have on your employees and on the success of the organization. Therefore, leadership should be measured by the strength of a leader’s impact. In a Q&A between Fellow and Kristine Stewart, Head of Shaping the Future of Media at the World Economic Forum, Stewart shares: 

“As a leader, it’s important to recognize that you’re not there to be the only leader at the table and you’re there to empower others to lead as well. The opportunity you have as a leader at a large organization is to understand what your skill set is and what the skillsets are of those around you. It’s important to identify everyone’s skill sets because you should ultimately be assembling a team that thrives and works well together.”

2Foster a positive culture 

A positive culture lies central to building organizational resilience. This means creating a psychologically safe environment, checking in on the well-being of your employees, and fostering trust between management and the employees. Recent research on employee experience found that taking care of well-being was linked to a 21% increase in work efficacy, a 46% increase in employee engagement, and a 45% increase in overall well-being at work. This highlights that investing in employee health is mutually beneficial to employees and to the organization, especially during times of change. 

3Be adaptable 

Even when there isn’t necessarily a major change or disruption taking place, it’s important to train the organization to be adaptable. This means implementing collective innovation and changes in any way that will improve the organization’s current operation. Empower your employees to collaborate, brainstorm, and bring forward new and exciting ideas. Fostering an environment that is agile and comfortable with ambiguity will help your organization build more resilience and feel prepared for any changes that arise. Think about adopting technologies that will also boost your organization’s ability to adapt, such as Cloud, artificial intelligence, blockchain, or quantum computing. 

4Strategically problem solve

Problem-solving and decision-making aren’t meant to be exclusively managed at a high level. Encourage employees to strategically problem-solve at every level of the organization. This may mean organizing sprints and brainstorming sessions or creating time-blocked periods in people’s calendars for focused work on any challenges that have surfaced. Tasking employees with creating new solutions will show them that you trust their experience and opinions and allows for several approaches to be presented on how to best strategically solve the issue at hand. This not only improves working relationships but also promotes a culture of creativity and innovation. Try out this template for your next problem-solving meeting. 

5Run productive meetings 

Running productive meetings is essential for building resilient organizations. Choosing to run productive meetings at every level means that everyone is on the same page and aware of how to best approach the changes that are occurring within the organization. In another study, research showed that 80% of executives said they had already been considering changes or were implementing changes to their business meetings before COVID-19 emerged. This highlights that even when an organization isn’t facing major changes, meetings that are as effective as possible are essential for the team’s success.  

With Fellow, you can run productive meetings by using collaborative meeting agendas (and meeting agenda templates, where possible), creating and assigning action items, and defining and tracking objectives and key results (OKRs). 

6Encourage innovation

Always encourage innovation with your team, even outside of situations where changes are occurring. When employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, this creates a space where innovation can flourish, and this innovation is what can help an organization build its resilience. Make sure that you’re creating opportunities for team members to have open discussions about their ideas, to present potential strategies, and to brainstorm together so you remain open-minded and innovative. 

7Foster alignment 

Foster alignment with your team if building resilient organizations is your focus. Ensure that employees understand the degree to which their combined efforts and work fits together and what their work aims to achieve. As the team begins to better understand, collaborate on, and work towards a collective goal, the organization will build better resilience because the vision is clear. When the direction in which the company is moving is clear, this tends to improve top talent retention and attract even more applicants because a clear vision is typically associated with job safety and a clear idea of the “why” behind employee responsibilities. 

8Measure resilience 

Determine an effective way to measure your organizational resilience. Here are some metrics that you may want to track to create a formal evaluation of your resiliency: 

  • The organization’s ability to identify and assess risks to operations
  • The organization’s standard operating procedures, recovery strategies, and response plans
  • The organization’s ability to act or execute standard operating procedures and set protocols
  • The organization’s ability to locate people and assets that might be in harm’s way
  • The organization’s ability to analyze performance before, during, and after a critical event
  • The technology and systems being leveraged by the organization
  • The organization’s governance structures and command hierarchy

9Empower your team 

Empower your team by effectively distributing authority and holding each individual accountable for assisting in the decision-making process. Ensure that you are empowering your team by providing them with all of the tools and resources that they need to be successful and by conducting efficient meetings to make final decisions. In a recent Q&A between Fellow and Pat Kua, Founder of Tech Lead Academy, Kua shares: 

“Empowering your team to make crucial decisions or act accordingly during an emergency when you’re not present means you’ve done a good job of delegating tasks and it also eliminates the risk of potential bottlenecks when it comes to decision making because they won’t feel like they have to run everything by you.”

10Develop effective decision-making practices

Lastly, develop effective decision-making practices across the entire company. It’s rare that decision-making authority is clearly spelled out, which makes employees more nervous to come forward with their ideas and causes people to look for approvals at various levels, therefore prolonging the process and making it messy. When business decisions become stalled in times of crisis or misfortune, the impacts of this holdup can be more negative and longer lasting. It’s important that the team is ready to make high-quality decisions quickly so disruption is contained to a minimum. To make more effective and accelerated business decisions, think about what kind of decision it is that needs to be made, the level of risk that is involved, and which individuals have the specialized knowledge to tackle the problem. Often stepping away from the problem and taking adequate time will help the team adapt its approach in the most effective way. 

Parting advice 

Building resilient organizations is a difficult pursuit. We hope that these best practices will assist you in developing an effective framework for building resilience and adapting to change, crisis, or disruptions to your organization in the future. Working on how your company emerges from setbacks will build strength, showcase innovation, and position you in front of your competitors. Organizational resilience is no longer optional in a business environment that is subject to constant change. Building resilient organizations is now crucial for any business to find success. 

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