Moving forward in our new normal

Jo Bristow

By Jo Bristow

01 Apr 2020

Never has the world been more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous than it is today. Responding to a ‘Covid-19 working environment’ requires organisations and their people to be more adaptable and resilient than ever.  Many organisations have no choice but to suspend or cease operations and those who are still operating are having to adjust ways of working to remain operational and look after their people during this unprecedented period.

Connor Resilience Blog Mar 2020

Employees are having to change hours or structure of work, being furloughed, taking on additional or different responsibilities, juggling work with personal commitments such as home schooling and caring for dependants, and even facing the potential of redundancy. All of this is requiring us to dig deep and perhaps be more resilient than we have had to be before.

One of our favourite quotes that summaries the essence of resilience is from Elizabeth Edwards, Author of ‘Resilience: The New Afterword’ – “Resilience is about adapting to this new reality and moving forward.”

People are the most valuable resource in our organisations so it’s important to help them navigate these unchartered waters.  We all have a degree of resilience but how do we protect and build it further to be able to adapt to the increasing wave of change, when there is no ‘template’ for the conditions we are facing?

Where do you start?

When thinking about the impact resilience has on organisational performance, it’s useful to understand the component parts of resilience - how we think, feel and act.

Resilient thinking is about being flexible in the way we think about situations, so that we can become even more effective. Resilience is not a trait that we do or do not have at birth, it is a mindset that we learn and build.

If we have not accepted our own capability and we aren’t attentive to or flexible in our own thinking, we are likely to become overloaded. Ultimately, unable to prioritise tasks or cope effectively in high pressured and changing environments.

We all develop 'thinking patterns' - the ways in which we approach a situation or challenge and go about considering and solving it. We develop these patterns over years of experience.  Developing resilience is about discovering many ways to think about something so that we don't get stuck in a rut, giving us alternative choice in how to solve a problem when the going gets tough. If we are only equipped with a limited set of thinking styles we soon run out of options, which is when negative feelings kick in and inhibit us.

Resilient feeling is about having flexibility in our response to situations that trigger emotions. If we lack emotional resilience, we allow our feelings to cloud our judgement and typically have set responses to situations. This lack of emotional resilience is likely to cause us internal pressure and stress and create tension in relationships which can already be different due to the lack of human contact.

When we are resilient, we are more aware of our emotions and able to manage our state towards positive attitudes and beliefs, even in difficult times. We exercise choice in our emotional response, noticing it for what it is and choosing to take a different position. We also focus our energy in the right places and don’t spend time focussing on areas that we are not in control of.  We also know how to renew and refresh ourselves by taking care to eat, sleep and exercise well and often in order to restore emotional balance.

Resilient behaviour results from thinking and feeling resiliently. When we have low resilience, we can act and communicate in a way that has a negative impact on the thinking and feeling of ourselves and others. Lack of resilient behaviour is often associated with fixed patterns and responses. For example, going into ‘worst’ case scenario action-planning rather than recognising that there are plans A, B and C that we can take before needing to get there.

If you are thinking about your own resilience or supporting others with theirs,  you may find it useful to start by considering these questions:

  • How well do I understand my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to change? Where might it be helpful to develop and apply new thinking approaches to get better results?
  • How openly do I accept my own capability and its limitations during this change? Would I benefit from seeking other people’s perspectives to balance this?
  • How clear am I about the over-arching goal for myself and/or my organisation through this period? How am I prioritising what I am doing to achieve these goals?
  • How attentive am I to the impact of my thinking and behaviour on myself and others? What am I doing that’s helpful for my resilience and the resilience of others, and what am I doing that’s unhelpful?
  • What % of my energy am I placing into things I can’t control versus the ones I can? Would it help to change the balance?
  • How flexible am I in the way I think about change, pressure and workload? What other options have I considered?

In summary, if we can develop our resilience and are equipped to think, feel and act resiliently, we are able to cope with change even on a level caused by the Global Covid-19 pandemic. We will be equipped to survive and thrive through ambiguity because we are flexible and can identify options to stay on track. We communicate with others in a way that energises and engages them even in a virtual environment- instilling hope and positivity by sharing stories and painting pictures that enable those around us to be successful too.

How Connor can support your teams to build their resilience

Connor helps organisations and individuals to evolve and thrive. Our award-nominated content on resilience and leading through change is delivered through one-to-one coaching and team development in a range of formats to suit your needs.

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