5 Secrets to Astounding Organizational Resilience

RAFT Team, April 18, 2022

Resilience is a word tossed around these days that often means “the ability to get through no matter what.” But there’s more to resilience than that. It is not all about luck and boot-strapping your way to success. Forcing your way through is the road that leads to compassion fatigue and burnout. True organizational resilience requires intentionality and purpose. And time set aside for self-care.

What Is Organizational Resilience?

There’s no set recipe for resilience. It’s not a straight path or even a destination. Individual resilience is a way of being — an approach and a mindset that is always growing, changing, and adapting. It can be reactionary, but resilience’s long-term focus is the what sets it apart. Organizational resilience is the same. The Center for Creative Leadership defines it as “the ability to respond productively to continuous change, adversity, and disruption, and to positively adapt and learn from experience in order to drive higher levels of performance over the long term.

According to Futures Without Violence, an organization focused on ending violence against women and children, organizational resilience is the ability to respond effectively to change and challenges and adapt successfully to new and unforeseen circumstances while staying true to mission. 

How to Build Organizational Resilience

Know your purpose

The most resilient organizations know exactly why they exist and what they’re trying to accomplish. But they don’t get to this knowledge overnight. While your purpose as an organization may remain steady, the path to get there often changes. You adapt based on your budget, the talents and abilities of your staff and supporters, the technology you have access to, and the connections you’ve established. 

The answer to why you exist and what you want to be will be your guide as you define what success looks like and give you a measurable, trackable metric. You can use these answers to establish short- and long-term goals.

Practice transparency

Involve your people in conversations not only about the “why” but also in the how. Make sharing from the top down just as common as building from the bottom up. Be honest about the health of your business and the difference you’re making in the community. Open communication allows ideas to flow and breaks down any team or departmental group-think. Transparency instills trust.

Promote flexibility

Organizations stuck in a strict way of doing things don’t survive for decades. At least not anymore. Our culture is changing as quickly as technology is changing, and if you fail to change along with it, you’ll be left behind. 

Your ability to adapt as an organization can foretell how long you’ll be around. Teach your people about innovation. Allow time for it. And praise changes that move your organization forward. Role play scenarios to access your ability to shift on the fly. Even if these specific situations never come to fruition, you’re building muscle memory for how to handle change when (not if!) it comes knocking.

Discovering your “why” and establishing useful goals can seem arduous, but the process is essential for longevity. Deloitte’s 2021 Global Resilience Report says this: Organizations that plan and invest in anticipation of disruption — whether a gradual transformation or a sudden pandemic — are better positioned to adapt, rebound, and endure.

Empower your people

Your people are your greatest asset. Put their safety and needs first. Be compassion as you lead. Practice empathy. Recognizing the human side and being concerned about what your people are concerned about lets them know you care and builds trust.

Invest in the growth of your people. Sign up for relevant training. (We offer a free training to SV/DV organizations.) Putting more tools in their toolbox, whether for better self-care and boundary setting, or technical classes to make them more effective and efficient, you’ll build your people’s confidence and satisfaction. 

Allow time for your people to get to know one another. Whether it’s a few moments at the beginning of a monthly meeting to share what’s working for each person or a monthly lunch together, give your people time to talk about more than just business. Also, encourage them to build their support networks outside of work. Maybe it’s sharing about fun family activities in the area, various free classes at your local community college, or opportunities to grow their hobbies. Each of these connects your people to others with similar interests. It gives them the opportunity to build another layer of support.

Celebrate your wins

When someone on your staff accomplishes something, recognize it! Even if it’s just a shout out in a group email or a Zoom call. When you get through an exceptionally difficult quarter, celebrate! Enthusiastically welcome new hires. Make gratitude and encouragement a robust part of your organizational culture.

These 5 keys to organizational resilience will grow your staff’s satisfaction, boost retention, and build your effectiveness in your community. If you need help to get started, book a free consultation with us.