Get connected to build your organisation’s resilience
Encouraging people to look to connections can make your organisation stronger
When a close friend of mine died recently, I reached out to a colleague and a close friend. Reliably, they made time for me, provided support and perspective.
As in this case and many others, leaning on my network during difficult times has made a huge difference to my life.
The same is true of professional setbacks. Turning to your network during dark times is no different.
Research of resilience has long homed in on the need for us to look inwards and adjust ourselves when facing tough times.
Resilience rankings award personal characteristics such as purpose and self-efficacy with the highest accolades. Usually with good reason.
However, much of the guidance on resilience omits one highly effective and easy solution to help us spring out of a rut stronger than we fell in. Connectedness or in other words social support.
Turning to your network is psychological research’s worthy underdog when it comes to helping talent and organisations thrive in the face of adversity.
Put simply, our social support networks (family, friends, colleagues, employers, communities, etc) can be just as valuable as our psychological characteristics.
Our networks provide us with emotional and tangible support which in turn shapes how we think about things. Positive relationships and supportive environments at work as much as home have a worthy role to play in building individual, team and organisational resilience.
Research supports the notion that positively resilient individuals are happier, have better health outcomes and can even thrive not just survive after setbacks. In other words, such individuals are more likely to increase their levels of resilience.
Most of us will not hesitate to chat to a family member or friend if we are feeling glum. We do this because we understand the obvious and often immediate benefits sharing our worries with close allies possess.
So, what is the problem?
While evidence shows time and time again that having strong meaningful relationships is likely to lead to having a happy, healthier, and more meaningful existence, be comfortable using your professional social network becomes more complicated. At least in our heads.
As employees, we are inclined to think twice before asking for help when the source of our troubles is professional.
Embarrassment, shame and fear of being perceived as “soft” in the minds of colleagues and superiors among other things loom large in the psyche.
Despite our irrationality, old-school organisational cultures where asking for help and showing vulnerability are perceived as weakness have made matters worse.
3 Practical solutions
1. Support your leadership team to role-model the right behaviours
Organisational research has uncovered powerful social learning at play. Employees will often forgo what they have been taught and behave in ways that either mirror the actions of their manager or common leadership practice within the organisation.
Encourage your leaders to share personal experiences where they were struggling and sought help and advice from colleagues or friends. Coaching your leadership team to be open and honest about these practices will pave the way for employees to feel comfortable displaying vulnerability and asking for help.
A simple act such as leadership teams sharing and recommending that employees get connected will be far more powerful than any training slide or poster with the same message.
2. Create internal networks in your organisation
Whether assigning new starters to a buddy scheme, creating a high-potential talent pools or facilitating a cohort of managers from a leadership programme, bringing employees with similar challenges and common issues together can pay serious dividends to your organisation’s resilience fund.
At the outset, make sure you are crystal clear about your expectations and provide guidance on building trust, confidentiality, and support.
3. Encourage your teams to get Connected
While not being tone death to wider society and recognising the ramifications of the current global health pandemic on our ability to socialise, team leaders should be cheer leading for informal and regular meetups between team members.
Daily check-ins, all hands and team meetings with agenda all have their place. However, encouraging staff to schedule regular time to chat informally can stimulate colleagues to reach out and give others the opportunity to reach in.
The future of work is here. The current global health pandemic has been a great leveller. Employees have been brought closer by common stressors and challenges. Meanwhile, well-being and mental health have firmly seated themselves in lofty positions on board agendas.
HR’s stature and utility has been impressively showcased in the way its navigating organisations through new business cadence and operating models while considering the human factors at play.
Despite the VUCA world, the ancient art of giving and receiving support remains as important as ever. Building Positive Resilience through good old fashioned trusted support networks will undoubtedly endure long after the current crisis.
To learn more about are cutting-edge work on but positive resilience and how we can help your organisation, then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Business Psychologist, Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and Senior Consultant at peoplewise