RESILIENCE: THE SILVER BULLET FOR TOUGH TIMES
There are broken businesses littered across Australia’s economic landscape at the moment.
Depending on where you are in Australia, the damage could be just battering and bruising or right up to needing life support. Stimulus packages, incentives, tax relief and rule flexibility will go some way to helping business owners re-build. But the most important piece of first aid needs to be applied to your employees, your teams.
The businesses that understand the damage that has been done to their employees during 2020, and work to repair their people and build a resilient, flexible, tough team will best survive not just this COVID-19 nightmare, but all the economic disturbances of the future.
The move to deliberately nurturing resilient teams is not a new notion; but it has never been more relevant.
Over the last ten years, a number of studies have identified that resilient employees:
- are better employees, consistently scoring higher on performance appraisals
- are more effective performers
- demonstrate greater satisfaction with the work they do
- can analyse and overcome stressful situations at work
- are more committed to the business that employs them
- are more engaged with the business and their role
- are likely to stay with the business for longer.
As a leader, you need to commit to a path that is about investing the time and resources to create a culture of health and wellbeing inside your business. This needs to be a genuine, visible effort that is embedded in business plans and actioned in every team meeting and evident in the ethics of the business.
First, assess what your workplace looks like in COVID-Normal
Restrictions across the country have proven that working from home is a viable option for many roles. Employers are realising that, yes, some jobs can be done effectively remotely. They are realising that this allows them to reduce their floorspace, save on rent and other costs. Employees save on travel time and costs and in some instances, childcare. The flexibility means that they can do school drop offs, visit an aged parent and choose to work an extra hour or so at night to make up. People have re-evaluated what is important to them during this pandemic. An employer who is not prepared to be flexible, if the job allows, will lose staff to employers who are.
Now, repair your team members
Depending on where you live in the country, and how your business has been affected by the pandemic and lockdowns, your team will have vulnerable members who have suffered trauma, such as:
- reduced income
- challenges meeting the cost of living
- insecurity around housing due to inability to pay rent or a mortgage
- family issues including physical and mental illness, increased family violence
- isolation from their close network of people
- routines lost and disrupted.
These rapid and uncontrolled changes to their life would have left them with a range of mixed feelings and emotions, including vulnerability, anxiety and a sense of loss of control. Your job as a leader is to give them clarity of direction. A plan. Not false re-assurances, but insight into your thinking around the future of the business, any limitations or problems and what they can do to help.
Set long term visions with short term, measurable and rewardable goals. Communicate as a team frequently. And whether that’s meeting in person or via Zoom it doesn’t matter. But the frequency of honest updates is an important part of re-building your team’s toughness and motivating them to do the most they can to re-build your business.
Remember, that high performing people need high performing leaders and environments which respect, reward and cultivate the team. Provide this, and your team becomes a tribe on a mission. We hear a lot about COVID-Normal and it will mean different things to different industries, different businesses. You will shape your own COVID-Normal. You will be limited by government restrictions but liberated by your team’s ability to be innovative and to think differently when looking for solutions.
What are the key factors to building a resilient team?
- A workplace that supports strong mental health
- A focus on training, multi-skilling
- Trust and respect
- Consultation and free sharing of information
- System of reward and recognition
Strong mental health
If your business is now a hybrid of on-site and working from home, this does pose unique challenges when it comes to building team cohesion.
- Set regular times aside for team collaboration.
- To help new relationships form in a virtual workplace, consider setting small projects that two or three people need to collaborate on.
- Schedule regular virtual catch-ups that are just about team interaction and fun. Plan activities – quizzes, charades, etc. Training, multi-skilling and coaching.
A team member that is confident in their skills and knowledge is far more capable of handling disruption, problems and stress. You need to give them permission to step up, take responsibility and resolve issues. A multi-skilled team has significant benefits. If people are trained across multiple roles, they appreciate what is involved in each role and will provide a much better outcome or result for other people in the team.
The other benefit of this is redundancy. If an employee leaves or is sick or on maternity leave, you have the built-in redundancy to cover that role—there’s no gap in your process while you hire.
Research has shown that customised individual coaching is important to building resilient teams.
While as a leader it may not be possible for you to do this for your whole team, you can choose your next level of leaders and have conversations with them, about how they are feeling; ask them to share positive experiences; talk about challenges they are facing; how they are dealing with them; and spend time talking about business goals and how it will feel to achieve them.
Trust and respect
Develop a culture where team members are trusted to do their role, to make decisions and solve problems within their scope. It is critical in a resilient team that every person has respect for the performance of other team members. It’s also important that leaders respect the abilities of their team members and publicly support them.
Consultation and free sharing of information
You are building a skilled, high performing team. You need to take advantage of their knowledge and their unique perspective of your business. Consult widely when you can as this will generate ownership and buy-in of ideas that are implemented. Be honest with your team. Keep them updated on where the business is, what the challenges are. Job security is going to be an ongoing worry for many people. If you can reassure people about their role, do it.
Reward and recognise
Set up a rewards system to keep your team motivated. A program that rewards and recognises people based on their skills and results encourages people to work harder and better, and helps you identify team members who can take on more responsibility.
Corina Vucic is the Director of FC Business Solutions. With over 20 years in the franchise industry, and extensive operational and management experience, she works closely with leaders to take their business to the next level. Whatever their goals, Corina coaches, mentors and supports business owners and executives to maximise success and minimise risk for long-term business prosperity and security.
To discuss how Corina’s expertise can help take your business to new heights, contact:
03 9533 0028