Culture3 min read

5 things we learned about building resilience and agility from a distance

The current global health crisis means it’s never been more critical to help our people build resilience, lead through change and problem solve fast.

It’s not a secret that how our leaders behave during this crisis could make or break our businesses. But embedding new skills, behaviours and mindsets from a distance is a challenge. And in our current market conditions, it is an urgent one.

We recently hosted an intimate briefing for a group of senior leaders to swap ideas and challenges on three questions:

  • How do you rapidly build resilience and agility digitally?
  • Resilience programmes are not a new thing. But what new needs does Covid-19 present and how can we ensure our resilience programmes fulfil them?
  • How can you upskill senior leaders in the behaviours they need to lead through a crisis at the same time they’re managing one?

Here’s what we learned.

build resilience and agility

Leaders must foster wellbeing in themselves and their teams, foster trust and compassion, and lead with empathy, creating an environment with high levels of support. This is the only way they’ll be able to maintain momentum, reduce presenteeism and increase productivity.

In these uncertain times, leaders need to be rigorous about management, and set vision and direction, motivate and empower teams, and create accountability – empowering their teams to pivot. We need our leaders to manage their teams more now than ever before because that’s the only way we’ll drive fast action and problem-solving.

When we get the balance of those two things right, our teams will be at their most productive. For every action leaders take right now, they must also take time to reflect and think about the lasting legacy of their actions in this crisis.

This leads us to our second takeaway…

build resilience and agility

How we treat our people in this crisis will be our legacy — it’s how we’ll be remembered.

Our main, most immediate goal is supporting employee wellbeing and mental health. We’re in this for the long haul, and it will get worse before it gets better.

When creating a High Challenge, High Support environment, it’s important we remember there’s already a high challenge from the uncertainty we find ourselves in. There is a difficult tension between providing support, being empathetic and managing performance.

Many of us have brilliant leaders who are adept at leading business units in a crisis, but who have never been taught how to look out for our employee’s wellbeing before. They need practical advice on how to look after their teams, and themselves.

build resilience and agility

For all of us right now, digital is the default when it comes to upskilling our leaders.

Now is not the time to be cancelling leadership training – it’s critical that we help people understand how to lead through a crisis at the same time they’re managing one.

❌ Don’t: use mechanisms that are one-off, one-way, lonely, theoretical

Ultimately, lots of us are sharing guides and manuals on how to work from home from a distance or running webinars, but when it comes to embedding and nurturing those critical crisis skills, we know that one-off events don’t change behaviour (the forgetting curve is real) and top-down approaches rarely embed lasting change because people don’t own the change they want to see, and theory rarely drives action.

✅ Do: find ways to learn that are…

Little and often — when leaders are often running around (albeit their living rooms) trying to figure out what to do next, little nuggets of content delivered frequently that they can consume at the end of their day or while they make a cup of tea, will be a critical way to drip feed the insight you need to deliver.

Highly practical and immediately actionable — People must be able to weave in the change they want to make, and act on it right away if you’re to truly maintain momentum.

Social — At times like these it’s critical for people to build connection, bake in accountability and accelerate learning among their peers because it’s through networks that innovation can contagiously spread.

build resilience and agility

We must help our people build a connection with each other and our organisations more than ever – frontline workers without laptops, employees who have been furloughed, every employee on the ground — everyone matters.

We must be wary of comms overload. Multiple webinars, documents, guides, and policies all in dispersed places can increase the feeling of overwhelm. We must simplify how we communicate with our employees and be thoughtful about what they need to know when.

We’re all on different curves — our people, our businesses, and us as HR leaders are all moving through this crisis at a different pace. We must bear that in mind, and keep sharing our learnings as the crisis evolves.

build resilience and agility

It’s hard to anticipate what kind of resilience training our people will need right now, as the crisis is evolving so quickly. We must keep our ears to the ground and be prepared to respond fast.

Creating listening posts for people to share their feedback, questions and worries will help us understand how best to respond. Some companies are doing this through pulse checks and tools like

💡As People Leaders:

  • We must remember to support our own leaders — ask them how they’re doing and thank them for managing a difficult job
  • We must make time to reflect. We’re all trying to deploy so many things, so quickly, we must make time to take a step back and check we’re doing the right, most important things
  • And make time to take care of ourselves

building resilience and agility

With businesses under significant stress at this time, it’s tempting for leaders to focus on the numbers as they consider how, or if, the business will survive.

But it’s important to remember that businesses thrive and survive because they’re built by great people.

In times of a crisis, leaders need to lead with courage and set clear vision and direction — but also look to after their people’s wellbeing, and take time to reflect and think about the lasting legacy of their actions.


Free access to resilience content

At Hive Learning, we’re passionate about connecting people so they can grow and learn together. That’s why we’ve made some of the content from our Resilience Works programme available on the People Leaders Network — an online community for organisational leaders to share insights, challenges, and ideas, so we can collaborate on the best approaches to take in scenarios that have very little precedent. If you’d like to have a look, you can sign up here.

If you’re looking for a way to bring your team together on a social platform while helping them stay strong, Hive Learning is offering a fast start package for Resilience Works that can get you up and running in 24 hours. You can learn more about the programme and request a demo here.

Resilience Works, Hive Learning

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