How to embed resilience into your culture

One of the words I’m tired of hearing over the course of this pandemic is one everyone is still seeking: Resilience.

As a leader, the best and biggest priority on a recruitment checklist should be this one quality. After two years of uncertainty, we must continue to look for resilience in whomever joins your company and find other ways to instil resilience among teams.

However, first we need to be clear on what this even means in order to recognise resilience in potential candidates. Here are a few strategies to use when recruiting, as well as how to create a conducive culture within your business.

Assess their ability to withstand pressure

Contrary to what we think, resilience isn’t just about bouncing back from hardship; it’s also about how you deal with pressure during times of uncertainty.

Interviews are one of the best ways to gain insights in how a person will react to challenges. As an example, I advocate to my clients, to ask candidates about their most recent failures and frustrations as well as how they responded to these past difficulties.  Then pay close attention to their answers. Do they take responsibility for the part they played? Place blame on others?

Watch out for Workaholism   

In Harvard Business Review, Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan argue that resilience isn’t about how we endure, but how we recharge: “The misconception of resilience is often bred from an early age. Parents trying to teach their children resilience might celebrate a high school student staying up until 3 a.m. to finish a science fair project. What a distortion of resilience! A resilient child is a well-rested one.”

One of the key characteristics of my most successful clients is a priority on work-life balance above all else. Candidates with workaholic tendencies wouldn’t be fit into their culture.. Scientists describe this workaholism as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.”

During an interview, you can gain insight into a person’s work motivations by asking key questions regarding their personal interests outside of the office. What’s their favourite way to enjoy downtime? How do they unwind? Is it important for them to take breaks throughout the day, or to keep going until they get the job done?

Are they confronting reality?

Our capacity to confront our anxieties and not try to minimise challenges is a key part of resiliency. Why does this matter when recruiting? Someone who downplays their struggles won’t be honest the moment you need to make adjustments for a “new normal.”

For example, when recruiting, it’s important that you can trust the person’s judgment. If you’re having communication problems down the road, will they turn a blind eye instead of acknowledging the issue at hand?

To gauge how a candidate would respond, try introducing a role-play situation. Choose a fictitious workplace situation and then assess how they’d fare in a real-life scenario.

Continue to build resilience in your teams 

“Resilience, conventional thinking assumes, is something we find within ourselves only when we are tested—a kind of solitary internal ‘grit’ that allows those of us who are strong to bounce back,” write Harvard Business Review authors and researchers Cross, Dillon, and Greenberg. “[However,] that’s not necessarily true.”

According to their research, resiliency isn’t purely an individual characteristic, but also heavily enabled by strong relationships and networks—which is where your culture comes into play.

So, as a leader ask yourself:  Are we nurturing a work culture that enhances relationships? Do we prioritise team-building activities or merely focus on our bottom line?

Because it’s these deep relationships that will give employees the support they need when they hit a setback. For some, moving past ambiguity and anxiety will involve more laughter. For others, more empathy.

“In short, our resilience needs are personal and are shaped by our unique history, personality, and professional/personal context,” write Cross, Dillon, and Greenberg. “But collectively, the relationships we develop are a toolbox that we can turn to in our most difficult times, which we can rely upon to help us navigate day to day life challenges.”

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