5 Values You Need for a Resilient Organization

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It’s every founder’s dream to build a resilient organization that grows in value quickly and evolves to deliver long term value in any market scenario. However, 2020 is throwing everything short of a moon at us. To survive a pandemic, mass protests, and a collapsed economic environment, teams have to be almost superhuman to thrive and excel.

Additionally, according to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, resilient people have developed sober and down to earth views of reality as it pertains to survival. So if happiness and optimism are not the key to a strong and resilient culture, what are the traits and values that organizations must cultivate to grind and innovate themselves away from the threat of failure?

Answer? The consistent, constant application of values in an organization, what Collins called the Flywheel Effect.

Five Organizational Values to Make your Culture Resilient

1. Self-Management 

Organizational resilience cannot exist if the people on your team are not resilient. Good for us then, that resilience can be learned. People who are expert self-managers seek mastery of self, learning about emotional thresholds, and what truly motivates us to wake up and do something great.

It also requires not just self-education, but also self discipline. For what organization wants to hire someone devoid of commitment, and ability to improve through repetition? Laziness is the antithesis of resilience, and kills otherwise productive teams. Let’s put this into perspective. If a single person in a team does not carry their weight, it puts each other team member at risk for burn-out.

An aspect of self-management which is getting a lot of attention right now is self-care. WHO defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

So it’s the fusion of health and lifestyle, and how an individual adjusts lifestyle to prevent and intervene for better health outcomes. What this means for an employee, is that they are healthy in mind and body, and are ready for work without the distraction of mental traumas, undiagnosed illness, and unaddressed stressors that degrade the quality of life. People who emerge from these situations with help, and ongoing self-care, are better prepared for what comes next, and are empowered to respond quicker to similar situations in the future.

2. Hybrid Thinking

(facilitates cross-pollination of ideas required to build great products/services and sell them creatively.

As hybrid thinkers in an organization, you contribute to the level of thought leadership by bringing differing viewpoints, alternative methodologies and frameworks, and educational background.

How is hybrid thinking actually cultivated in an organization? Collaboration and creativity are the keys. The basic idea is: 

“Hey, I know something you probably do not know.”

“Hey, I know something you don’t, as well.”

“Let’s get together with these things that we think we know, and see if we can combine them into something useful. Even if it’s not very useful, we both learned, but it likely is going to solve something.”

Hiring people with divergent career paths is a good way to encourage hybrid thinking. Business is … messy. As is the typical career of an effective person, circa 2020. It is rare to move linearly throughout life with a predetermined course from childhood to retirement. Take advantage of that, and hire specialists who are well traveled in other areas, and open to learning.

The future will call for cross-functional leaders, who are equipped with multiple mental models and frames of reference from which to pull from, with the objective of devising interesting perspectives and solid, durable (dare I say resilient) solutions.

3. Integrity

What crashes a business faster than anything? The lack of integrity among leadership. People in sensitive or key positions in orgs must be authentic, accountable, and ethically uncompromising.

Invite nepotism and kill your culture and inclusion (see below). Go back on your word, and kill the trust from stakeholders in your business. Shift blame for your failures onto lower and mid level staff, and you’ll have vocal votes of no confidence and talent leaking to all your competitors. Nobody wants to be known as a liar, thief, or coward. But for some without integrity, it becomes a means to an end. But, when that day of reckoning comes, the company will fall along with it.

4. Inclusion

Companies that are more inclusive:

  • Sell more
  • Tell better stories
  • Are more innovative
  • Attract more talented people
  • Have internal evangelists
  • Are more enjoyable to work for

Notice that I didn’t say diverse. Before you start to bring in more people from a diversity of sources and backgrounds, you must have inclusion. For example, imagine bringing LGBTQ candidates into a company in which people don’t see the big problem with gay or transsexual jokes.  Those candidates would not stay long, and would most likely keep other LGBTQ peers away. It may also chase away people who identify as LGBTQ allies, leaving the vicious cycle to continue. Slow down the diversity PR train and focus almost exclusively on inclusion at first.

Resilient organizations build the foundations for inclusion, to include regular, embedded opportunities for cultural education and application. You see, it is not enough to be “aware” of other cultures at a cursory level. If you really want to understand the people out there you’re selling to, attracting for employment, or partnering with for vendor/supplier opportunities, then you need to understand language, customs, social norms, and history.

You must also learn to understand what merging those cultures would require from your organization, and what that would do to add on to the org culture you have in place already. The quick answer is a net positive, but when we are considering cultural diversity – divergent opinions on faith, politics, and the value of things must be taken into consideration.

People who run Diversity Equity Inclusion Belonging programs at organizations should take heed by doing the hard work – which is building consensus, not creating ERGs or creating complex measurement systems before you have the foundations. If a culture still venerates “top performers” who have clear issues of bias and exclusion, then it’s not inclusive, now is it? Without consensus from the workforce, there can be no inclusion, because that negative element of resistance still lurks just below the surface of your culture – and everybody knows it.

5. Growth Mindset

A growth mindset supplies each person with vision, purpose, and comfort with change and uncertainty. The term was first coined by distinguished psychologist Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck theorized that your abilities are not fixed in place, that one could learn to change aptitudes via focusing on improving on specific areas with study and repetition.

“Nurture” and muscle memory are keys to monetizing your growth mindset, and if organizations learn how to manifest this in their culture and L & D programs, they are on the path to building a more resilient organization. At bare minimum, they become more able to build critique, feedback and criticism into day to day business. This leads to a continuous march towards an organizational “North Star” from which to draw additional willpower when at last it is achieved.

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Cody Bess