Forward-thinking business leaders who took certain actions prior to 2020 were more likely to survive the chaos of the past year and position their organizations to thrive going forward. They built organizations that had visionary strategies, were good to their stakeholders, and successfully leveraged technology for competitive advantages.
Even so, according to the 2021 Deloitte Global Resilience Report, two-thirds of CXOs still don’t feel completely ready to lead through potential disruptions and 70% lack confidence in their organizations’ ability to pivot and adapt to unsettling events like those they recently experienced.
Has 2020 been a wake-up call? Well, it definitely showed us something we were not ready for. Now that we’ve seen what can happen and how quickly it can unfold, there’s a better understanding of how something like a virus or a major climate event can dramatically affect economies. These issues and their potential impact aren’t theoretical anymore, and companies around the globe are in a unique place to try and be ready for the future, already aware of how something disruptive can change the course of our working lives.
It might be a word we’ve heard a lot during these days, but the key is to understand how to be as resilient as possible.
Investing In The Future
Improving organizational resilience to prepare for future disruptions begins with an honest appraisal of whether your organization is prepared, adaptable, collaborative, trustworthy, and responsible.
Leaders have to ask themselves if they’re investing in the short term or long term if they’re training people for today’s work or tomorrow’s work if their structures promote or inhibit cooperation, and if they’re committed to serving all stakeholders or just shareholders.
During the pandemic, leaders who prepared for disruption gained confidence in their organization’s ability to withstand adversity when they saw long-term, progressive investments paying off. As a leader, you hope the money spent on infrastructure, training and other areas where there’s not an immediate reward is being spent wisely, so, when those investments bear fruit – which, in the case of 2020 meant enabling businesses to weather unprecedented challenges – it’s confirmation that you’re up to the challenge.
Learning and Purpose
Providing opportunities for employees to broaden their skills and deepen knowledge in their own specialism is critical now more than ever. In the former, it will enable teams to be adaptable with an armoury of soft skills and complementary areas of knowledge. In the worst possible cases, it may enable leaders to make optimal decisions around resource management by rapidly cross and upskilling team members to adapt to business volatility.
Leaders now need to prioritize employee development as one of their highest agenda points, it’s a win, win, win for all parties. Employees are continually growing their skills, intrinsically it enables them to be valuable across numerous domains, secondly, it reciprocates value, employees are likely to appreciate opportunities to develop therefore maintain loyalty and finally across the organisation retainment of adaptable competent employees enables the business to thrive in challenging situations
Being purposeful is harder to operationalise, though anchoring daily activities with quarterly and extended goals and celebrating these throughout the employee base gives grand insight that we’re all in this together. This culturally should be woven throughout comms and engagement strategy, feeling isolated and powerless is a prevailing problem of the pandemic. Ensuring that an organisation acts as a microsome where all feel and are part of something meaningful provides huge value at the individual level
Further, at the individual level, leaders should take care to poll and survey out assess what motivates their employees – flexibility, the work itself, incentives, passion for the mission etc. When done well it will provide a range of actionable insight for leaders to then employ archetypical sets of purpose to speak directly to great sections of the workforce.
I love the mission here. Amazing, let’s provide tools, work inclusions and content that put a hand on the wheel for you.. and so on..
Strategic Actions That Build Resilience
Companies that took steps to prepare for future disasters prior to 2020 were more likely to say they are weathering the pandemic better than their peers or competitors, according to the Deloitte report. Going forward, other organizations can follow the examples set by the most resilient organizations and take strategic actions like those below to build their organization’s resilience:
- Create a comprehensive crisis response and scenario playbooks that map out potential internal and external risks. Just as sports teams design playbooks for each game, resilient organizations should prepare playbooks that anticipate potential events.
- Conduct regular crisis and scenario simulations with key decision-makers across functions and departments. Scenario planning helps leaders plan for disruption and anticipate what organizations will need not only to survive but also to thrive in the future.
- Hire for mindsets, like adaptability, instead of specific skill sets. This may require rethinking traditional job descriptions, which could also increase diversity.
- Develop training or rotational programs to allow workers to learn new skills. This could boost organizations’ abilities to redeploy workers depending on business needs and employee interests.
- Eliminate internal silos and invest in technologies that promote collaboration. According to the Deloitte report, collaboration improved resilience by helping organizations make decisions, communicate more effectively and foster trust among workers.
- Develop environmental sustainability initiatives inside your organization. They can benefit the planet, appeal to socially conscious talent, and potentially lead to new business opportunities.
- Build physical, emotional, and digital trust with your stakeholders. CXOs who lead with empathy and communicate regularly and transparently with stakeholders strengthen trust.
- Prioritize mental health, wellness, diversity, inclusion, and equality. There is a strong correlation between having an agile organization and having an inclusive culture and diverse workforce.
It is also really important for CXOs to seek relationships with like-minded organizations to tackle societal issues. In fact, the scope of potential threats accentuates the urgent need for leaders to embrace all stakeholders and put the advancement of society at the heart of their business strategies.
Change and disruption will be a way of life going forward, so leaders who implement the building blocks of resilience now will be best positioned to thrive over the long run!