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How Can Leaders Make Their Teams More Resilient?

Resilience is a skill we know helps us as individuals and leaders thrive under pressure, but how do we foster and encourage resilience for high-performing teams? Even individuals who are otherwise resilient may face struggles in certain areas as we continue to work from home, nearly a year into the COVID-19 crisis. 

Research has shown that there are three common factors that can predict whether people will be resilient or not. People who have disciplined routines for their work, high levels of confidence in their abilities, and a strong network of social and family support are shown to be the most resilient. It’s a good idea for managers and leaders to identify how their teams are doing in these areas and whether or not they need reinforcement. 

Checking in with your team members individually to hear how they are doing or if anything has changed for them is a great way for leaders to get an idea of how your people are faring. These check-ins are a good way to take inventory of how your reports are doing in the three resilience categories and can be an opportunity to provide support where needed. 

Otherwise-resilient employees may be feeling less so while managing the challenges of working from home. Remote work has caused many people’s previous routines to change, and figuring out new systems and workflows that work for them now can sometimes take time to master. Many employees are struggling to focus, find time for deep work, and establish work schedules that are sustainable, all while balancing the increasing demands of home life. 

Sometimes challenges with connection and routines can lead to lowered confidence in the work of otherwise-confident employees. Providing regular feedback, more frequent check-ins if necessary, and positive reinforcement can be a way to let your employees know that they are doing a good job. 

Showing your compassion both as a leader and as a person is also a great way to reestablish resilience in your remote workplace. Being available to your employees, providing them with the tools and resources they need to do their job from home, and giving them the opportunity to take time if they need it for their family are ways to demonstrate that you value their contribution to the team as well as them individually as people. 

Creating an environment where your employees feel able to speak up about challenges they may be facing or asking for help also reinforces resilience and trust in teams. Something that may not have been an issue before might be difficult to address but supporting a culture of asking for help without fear of negative consequences will reinforce the trust of the team as well as help prevent burnout among high-performing workers. 

Furthermore, individualized coaching has been shown to be an effective resource for building and maintaining resilience. Leaders already have enough responsibility and pressure, they do not need to “be everything to everyone” on their team. It’s frankly not possible for the team leader to discuss every challenge, stressor, or hurdle with each team member individually—and lead the team effectively. With individualized coaching, employees can better understand their reactions to situations, get the tools they need to better manage these emotions and responses, and develop and hone their skills in order to adapt to new situations. Coaching is also great for creating sustainable performance routines, as many high-performing workers who are geared toward action find themselves working longer hours, more intensely, and can be prone to burnout. 

Being resilient in today’s professional world looks like more than just surviving until things “go back to normal.” In many industries, “normal” may ultimately look more like the way things are today than they were a year ago. As we’ve been forced to adapt and improvise, learn new systems and technologies, and figure out how to continue to innovate and produce great work under these challenging conditions, we’ve been given an opportunity to be more mindful of our resilience in a way that many of us have never experienced or put much thought into before.

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