In recent years, the concepts and principles of enterprise risk management, business continuity and crisis management have blended with those of change management to produce a new emphasis on organisational resilience. While resilience gained an international focus following the events of 11 September 2001, the idea of organisational resilience – the need for companies to respond to a rapidly changing business environment – came into its own after the global financial crisis.
Resilience takes effective change management a step further; resilient organisations are said to be change-ready organisations. They display a range of characteristics that help them thrive in the face of change, rather than passively responding to change as a deliberate process.
The top key characteristics of a resilient organisation include:
1. The ability to identify emerging threats and understand their impact on all aspects of the business, its workers and their broader community
It’s extremely important that organisations spend time identifying any threats and brainstorming scenarios and risks that the organisation could be confronted with. From fire to social media trolls, employee fraud to a senior executive scandal, get together with your executive team and come up with solutions for worst-case scenarios and steps on how to handle them. You won’t regret it if one of these does eventualise.
2. Strong and supportive relationships with key stakeholders
If there’s any way your organisation can come crashing down in a hot second, it’s if your stakeholders turn against you. It’s important to always be building and nurturing your relationships with any type of stakeholder within your business. While it’s vital to know and prioritise who your strongest stakeholders are, you also need to make sure you don’t turn a blind eye to those you think are less important. You want loyalty and faith across the board. Once one screw becomes loose and a stakeholder is disgruntled, you risk a ripple effect taking place.
3. Staff who are committed to working as a unified team
A key part of your organisation being resilient is ensuring you have a strong team to back you. It’s vital you ensure they are able to cope with change, impart skills to help people work proactively and embrace any change that comes their way – especially when the pressure is on.
While there are many external pressures on teams and organisations that we may not be able to control, there are also a lot of things that we can influence and change. Ensure your team has a common purpose, a high level of trust for each other, is open and honest with each other, manages their time collectively, can think resiliently and most importantly, has team habits and behaviours that support resilience.
4. Clear organisational objectives, supported by staff
This one is an absolute given. It’s extremely vital that an organisation has clear objectives set in place, and that these are supported by its staff. Ensure you have a clear strategy in place which will allow you to determine whether your staff are always working on important, strategic activities that are in support of your organisation’s growth.
Organisational objectives allow staff to see where your future and growth is heading and how it plans to get there. When employees need to make difficult decisions, they can refer to the organisation’s goals and objectives for guidance.
These objectives will also help promote planning to determine how goals will be achieved, and encourage employees to set their own goals to keep up motivation and team morale.
5. Clear direction from leadership
An organisation’s leader has a vital role to play in cultivating the characteristics of resilience in the business and that could start with an assessment of its current resilience level. Careful identification of the organisation’s vulnerable areas, monitoring and risk processes, along with an assessment of who would form the leadership team in a crisis and how they would communicate, would start to give clues to the organisation’s position.
Those that are in the position of leadership, must be able to manage and maintain relationships with key stakeholders and have the ability to boost staff morale during a crisis.
Resilience in the face of organisational change allows an organisation to resume normal or improved business activities as soon as possible. It also has the potential for many spin-off advantages, including an increase in staff morale, enhancement of the organisation’s reputation and reduced exposure to losses.
Dr Neryl East is a highly qualified and experienced expert on media, communication, credibility and reputation. She has had an extensive career in journalism, corporate, crisis and governance communications over the past 30 years, working for Win TV, Wollongong City Council and Shellharbour City Council.
Neryl works with leaders and teams who want to stand out, accelerate their success and avoid costly reputation mistakes. She has a Master of Arts and PhD in Journalism, and her book The Headline Edge hit number one on Amazon in three countries. Neryl is also a Certified Speaking Professional – an international designation awarded to only a small percentage of professional speakers globally.