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ARTICLE: Hard Times Are Coming. Here’s How to Build Your Company’s Resilience to Endure Them

Updated: May 1, 2020

The saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” needs an upgrade—because when hard times hit, what we need more than anything from our staff (and ourselves) is resilience. My friend and colleague Robert Goldberg weighs in on this topic in a recent article on

"Resilience,” says Robert, founder and managing partner of Greensboro, NC-based consulting firm Organization Insight, “is like a force field. If a group learns it can withstand pressures, failures, and setbacks, it can rally together under enormous strain. On the other hand, we’ve seen countless times where a lack of resilience leads to self-victimization, fracturing of relationships, and half-hearted efforts."

Necessary to counter workplace stress, resilience is all about bouncing back and learning from mistakes. Workplace stress causes 120,000 deaths and about $190 billion in health care costs annually, contributing to everything from chronic depression to a reduction in immune system functioning. According to Robert, resilience is most important in workplaces where there is external pressure beyond the norm, a lot of disruption amid an uncertain future—in short, in most organizations today."

Four key ways Robert says you can help your team find out how they can help bolster the group's collective resilience, and stand tall during both personal and company challenges:

  1. Be a resilience role model. Don't cave in when confronted with challenges. According to research out of Johns Hopkins University, the five factors of human resilience are: self awareness, mindfulness, self care, positive relationships, and purpose. Buttress your team by assessing which of these are your strengths (and weaknesses), and model the ones that can help your organization when things go wrong.

  2. Get to know your people. You know Robert in the back office? Well, you don’t, because he prefers to go by Bob. And if this and other facts have eluded you, it's time to step up the personal engagement at your company. Nobody expects you to join Bob's fantasy league, but at the very least, get to know enough about him so that he's more than Back Office Bob—and so that he knows you're more than just the boss.

  3. Make sure your people are connected with each other. You may or may not be the glue, but each member of your organization is a vital piece. Before your group faces adversity, help your people stick together so they can support each other as a team in order to counter social isolation, which is the enemy of resilience.

  4. Help team members understand how they contribute to getting through tough times. By letting them know that you see them and how they help work toward company goals, you'll help cement their own feeling that they are integral to the group’s mission—through good times and bad.

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