All of us face adversity, in our journey of life – Illness of self or a loved one, loss of a loved one, mental and/or physical abuse, bullying, job loss, trauma, financial instability… the list can go on. Then, there the unfortunate tragic larger events such as terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters, and of course the pandemic, like the one we are faced with now.
The severity of the incident, the impact, time taken to heal and move on…are dependent on various factors; but all of us have to learn to cope with and work through the challenging life experiences, which means, we have to be resilient, or build ‘resilience’, if we are not already.
Let’s take a moment to understand what does ‘resilience’ mean.
According to the Cambridge dictionary resilience is “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened”.
It does not mean that one does not experience stress, sadness, disappointment, suffering, challenge etc. It also, does not suggest – learning how to “bear it” or “get over it” or “avoid obstacles” or “resisting change”;
In practicality, ‘building resilience’ is a process of utilizing flexibility, learning to tap into a strengths-based approach and working through obstacles and/or changes. It emphasises on the ideas of adapting to & addressing the suffering, loss, adversity and become happy again.
When we put this in the context of an organization, or a team within the organization, we are looking at how they demonstrate the ability to adapt to the changes, disruptions, crisis, economic slowdown, dynamic and unpredictable environment. While managing these, they are expected not to compromise on running operations smoothly, safe guarding people’s interest, company’s brand image, assets etc.
Business Continuity Plans, Crisis Management Plans etc. help in building resilience to a certain extent but additionally, there is a need for a business model that embraces complexity, uncertainty, interdependence, systems thinking, and a multi-timescale perspective.
There have been various studies conducted to enable building resilience, as an individual, team or as an organization.
As an individual, one can start from being fully aware of ‘their’ 7Cs :
Develop the ability to know how to handle situations effectively. To build competence, one needs to develop a set of skills that help in trusting the judgments and make responsible choices.
True self-confidence is rooted in competence. Individuals gain confidence by demonstrating competence in real-life situations.
Develop and maintain close and strong ties to family, friends, and community. These provide a strong sense of security and belonging.
One needs to have a fundamental sense of right and wrong to make responsible choices, contribute to society, and experience self-worth.
Have a sense of purpose. This is a powerful motivator. Contributing to one’s community reinforces positive reciprocal relationships.
Develop coping skills. When people learn to cope with stress effectively, they are better prepared to handle adversity and setbacks.
Develop an understanding of internal control. This helps individuals act as problemsolvers instead of victims of circumstance. When individuals learn that they can control the outcomes of their decisions, they are more likely to view themselves as capable and confident.
For an organization to build resilience means – to be an ‘all weather company” for all practical purposes! Some of the measures (and am sure there are many more) that companies could consider and build resilience are –
Adaptivity/Adaptability is the ability of an organization’s systems, processes and tools to rapidly adjust to the unexpected new circumstances, without compromising on the outcomes and/or people’s interest. How the systems, processes and tools are built to enable adaptability will go a long way in enabling an organization to be resilient.
Agility in action
Fast action in a crisis can be valuable in securing scarce resources and capitalizing on opportunities. In order to be nimble,some organizations decentralize decision making by eliminating excessive layers and the need for consensus. Some go a step further by substituting algorithms for human-based decision making in areas such as pricing and supply chain planning. Agility is unlocked by fostering collective action, having a culture of getting things done, clearly and persuasively communicating the company’s goals.
Diversity in business creates different types of options with which to react to a crisis. Companies with diverse businesses and/or operations are less likely to experience catastrophic failure; Companies can leverage diversity in their revenue sources (what they sell, where, how, and to whom) or in their operations (how they create and deliver products and/services)
Be important to the customer
Companies can be embedded in their customers’ lives by providing an essential service, and they can be embedded in social systems more broadly by aligning their purpose with society.
Companies that are operationally flexible can change their processes more easily to adapt to adverse situations.
Resilience begins with a mindset shift. Merely adopting the measures will not guarantee resilience—a mindset shift is required for these measures to be understood, valued, embraced, and implemented effectively. Remember, Resilience is not a permanent state. All of us are allowed to feel equipped to manage one stressor and overwhelmed by another. The best we can do is to build resilience, and try to apply the learnings when dealing with adversity. And as we are coping, we will discover a gear we never knew we always had! Use it and we will be driven to the place, where we will be happy again!
Would love to hear your views and your experience of coping with adversities.
By Meenakshi Virani
HR professional and Leader, with over 2 decades of experience, with Masters in MBA
from Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning.Experience in entire gamut of HR domain activities covering Recruitment, Talent Management, Talent Development, Leadership Development, Mentoring, Program Management etc. Have successfully led and been part of Global, Country, Business Unit level strategic projects in the areas of – employee integration, HR automation, women development etc.
Worked with organizations like Tesco, Supervalu India, TATA Consultancy Services and
Continental. Last role was with Continental, as Head of HR for their largest R&D Center,
in Bangalore. Currently – associated with WICCI1 Karnataka Mentoring and Soft skills council as a state council member; An NGO, involved in mentoring aspiring women entrepreneurs;