Resilience Series – Practical Tips for Achieving Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity After a Pandemic

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By: Shawna Simcik

Organizational resilience is defined as, “The ability of an organization to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper.” In other words, organizations that can demonstrate the ability to anticipate a disruption (ahem… a pandemic), assess all risks and threats, develop proactive plans, implement said plans and then learns from this experience to move forward are those who will survive and prosper.

But, COVID-19 has rewritten the rules of resilience. In a recent article published by Deloitte, the author draws a vivid picture of leaders not just fixing a plane midair but building it. Organizations and leaders are facing uncertainties that no one could have assessed and/or prepared for. So, as we progress into what the New York Times is calling the “recovery phase,” resilient organization and their leaders must recognize and reinforce the mindset from “managing the crisis” to “building for the future.”

To help organizations move from respond to recover, there are four characteristics that leaders must demonstrate.

1. Build Trust. Trust-based relationships are key to high engagement rates among our workforces. Take the time to build strong personal bonds with your employees – they will be vital in recovering from failure and disappointment. Also, afford your employees the level of autonomy and trust to tackle challenges as they appear; don’t micromanage the recovery.

2. Own the Current Reality. Be transparent about the current situation, this should include what you do not know. Paint a picture of what the future could hold for your employees and team members that will inspire others to persevere. Managers who notice signs of stress need to reach out and engage their employees in honest discussions to promote resilience and boost team energy.

3. Focus on the Horizon. It can be extremely easy to get sucked back into crisis mode and putting out the daily fires that ablaze. Resilient leaders stay focused on the horizon and theorize about future business models and innovations that will define the organization’s future. Pick your head up daily to strategize towards the horizon.

4. Maintain a positive outlook.  The human brain is hard-wired to find danger and pain, so it can be difficult to overcome, but resilient leaders embrace a positive mindset. This does not mean you ignore the feelings of grief, stress, anger, or worse; move quickly to positive intent and allow this to take up the space where self-doubt and apprehension might reside.

Let us focus on resilience, not recovery. With this, companies, leaders, and employees will learn and emerge stronger and prepared for the “next normal.”

“The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future.”

Henry Kissinger
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