Over the last 12 months, there has been a distinct split between sectors and individuals where work has virtually disappeared for some, and others have been so busy they have struggled to cope. Both ends of this last year’s K-shaped economy have required huge resilience from both teams and individuals.
This article shares highlights from the second Leadership Lunch and Learn session with guest speakers listed below. The speakers joined Gareth John to discuss building team and personal resilience in a K-shaped economy. As well as advice going forward as restrictions start to ease and businesses reopen.
‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards, Olympian Ski-jumper
Charlene Lyons, Chief Executive Officer at Black Sheep Brewery
Caroline Ford, Global Digital Capability Lead at AstraZeneca
Doug Field OBE, Joint CEO at East of England Co-op
Lucy Pakes, HR Business Manager at Ashtons Legal
Dyfrig Jenkins, Owner & Director of YOU. Development.Ltd
Building Personal Resilience
Resilience is defined as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’. Resilience is being used more and more and has particularly come to the forefront during the pandemic, both in a professional and personal sense. Supporting people is becoming more important than ever. To effectively support your colleagues or peers you need a strong sense of personal resilience. This is especially true for the staff of businesses that have experienced extreme impacts from the pandemic, going from 0 to 100 or 100 to 0 in a short amount of time.
Eddie Edwards’ advice for personal resilience
Love what you are doing
When asked what gave him the drive to carry on ski-jumping, Eddie replies that underlying everything is a passion for what you are doing. He was able to push through when times were hard due to his love of skiing and passion for the sport. If you love what you are doing then it is easier to carry on when things get tough and cope with the ups and downs.
Set yourself personal goals
Eddie set himself personal goals and broke the bigger task of getting qualified for the Olympics into smaller manageable chunks. As long as he was better at jumping than the day before he saw this as progress towards the bigger goal.
Success is not linear
Do not let setbacks get in the way of progress as failing can help you learn. Progress and success is not linear and will take zig-zags, thinking like this will make it easier to digest setbacks. As long as you have your end goal in sight you will be able to achieve your goals. Often achieving a target is hollow and the journey is what is important.
Make the most of the resources and opportunities
Even if you have little to no resources available to you, people are often happy to help along the way. Therefore make use of any resources you have at your disposal. This also applies to taking opportunities when they arise. The film about Eddie the Eagle’s story was released in 2016, however, Eddie reveals that he originally signed for the film to be made 21 years ago. Production of the film was repeatedly stalled and it was not until he took the opportunity to be on the programme Splash some years later that the film was revisited.
Eddie reminds us that you never know what accepting opportunities will bring. Even though it might not seem like it at the time, decisions might positively impact you further down the line in ways you haven’t thought about. Strength and resilience come in being able to be flexible and go with the flow.
Have a plan B
Fear of doing new things and lack of resilience to be able to cope if you fail can be overcome by having a plan B. If you know you have something to fall back on then it is easier to accept failure, take risks, and embrace opportunities. In Eddie’s case, he was able to fall back on plastering when he came out of the spotlight and work dried up.
Never give up
Eddie believes that if you have got a dream, ambition, and passion to do something then you should go for it. Never give up no matter how many people say you can’t do it. The points above will help give you the personal resilience to continue to get up and go when at first you don’t succeed.
Charlene Lyons’ advice for personal resilience
When pubs shut in response to the first lockdown in March 2020, Charlene reports how Black Sheep Brewery had to adapt quickly to ensure the safety of the business and its 150 staff. The brewery was quick to change its business model from selling stock entirely through pubs. The business diversified and shifted its trading to what the circumstances would allow, including food deliveries, selling stock online, and distributing their leftover product to supermarkets.
It was this quick response to making difficult decisions and adaption to change that Charlene believes has allowed the business to be resilient. With this, they have had to refocus and in doing so have learned more about the Black Sheep brand and its place and voice in the industry. Charlene feels the pandemic has enabled the brand to grow and start its next phase of trading in a stronger position.
Doug Field’s advice for personal resilience
Recognise teams’ needs
Co-op’s businesses in different sectors have been affected by the pandemic to a varying degree but all have experienced challenges. The travel department for example has faced very different challenges to the funeral department, whilst the supermarkets have faced different issues still. This illustrates that even different parts of the same business can have experienced very different challenges. As Doug puts it, everybody is experiencing the same storm but we are all in different boats. Therefore staff should be treated on an individual basis when addressing their needs and offering support.
Doug reports that Co-op has shown support for its staff by producing videos on how much the company values them. As well as sharing customer letters of praise. They are also promoting events for resilience and partnerships for wellbeing to raise awareness of the support available. It is about ensuring the support is there when it is needed and recognising what teams need.
Dyfrig Jenkins’ advice for personal resilience
Respond, Recover, Thrive
YOU. Development offers executive coaching and organisational development to a number of businesses in different industries. Dyfrig exclaims that these sorts of events can be a great way to reengage, revitalise, and reconnect staff. Talking to people and engaging with them can be a useful way to not only support staff but to hear different viewpoints and perspectives. Businesses should be reflecting on what changes made throughout the pandemic have worked well and should be continued. As well as what parts of working life pre-COVID should come back when they can. Sometimes businesses are so future-focused that they miss opportunities to learn from past mistakes.
Dyfrig reports that when coming out of a crisis or challenging circumstance you should respond, recover, and thrive:
Respond – How you deal with the situation and manage continuity
Recover – How you learn and emerge stronger
Thrive – Where you prepare for, then shape your future
Asking questions such as what worked well, what didn’t, and why? As well as is there a better way? can aid individuals and businesses to effectively respond, recover, and thrive.
Caroline Ford’s advice for personal resilience
Caroline has experienced six mergers and a number of redundancies during her working career meaning she has worked in many different industries. When asked how she stayed resilient with so many career changes and few qualifications, she notes the importance of determination. Like Eddie, Caroline believes her ‘plan B’ of learning to type meant she always had something to fall back on. This gave her the confidence to take jobs she didn’t feel qualified for because if it failed she could go back to typing. Once equipped with transferable skills Caroline was confident she had a skill set she could easily transfer across industries.
A useful tip to increase resilience is to think about what your main assets and skillsets are. Then think about what you want to do, where you want to do it, what inspires you, and whether it aligns with your values. A good cultural fit between a company and an employee is important for workplace resilience.
Caroline has found that you are “only as good as your last interaction with a client” so it is important to show up to work with a positive attitude. How you behave, conduct yourself, and interact with people will help you further down the line. If you are positive, help people, and are a joy to work with people are more likely to help you. Be courageous and ask for help when you need it.
When opportunity meets preparation
When you have got the equipment to do something, the confidence to be flexible, and the positive mindset to see it as a worthwhile opportunity then you have the resilience to succeed. At times when you are not feeling resilient do a stock check and audit on your life. Clear clutter and write down what is on your mind. Looking for opportunities, preparing for them, reframing your mindset, and asking for help can all increase your workplace resilience.
Building Team Resilience
Team resilience refers to ensuring your team is able to cope with challenges and recover from them quickly and effectively. Mangers’ roles include ensuring their team has the resources and support to be resilient in times of crisis. As well as have the capabilities to continue to support the business successfully.
Charlene Lyons’ advice for team resilience
Support for staff
Charlene reports that some staff coming off furlough have found it hard to readjust. This is because the business and role are completely different from when they left. To overcome this Black Sheep Brewery has put a lot of time and resources into supporting the team through their transition period back to work. Their aim is to ensure staff understands that they are the biggest asset to the company. As well as promote that although things in the business and society have changed, together they are stronger as a team.
Training has also been implemented to aid mindset growth, taking control, and letting staff know their best is good enough. Overcoming COVID fatigue for both working staff and those coming off furlough has been another focus. Charlene feels that staff will feel more resilient if they are part of a culture that is flexible, where they can voice concerns and be supported.
The company has been working to reassess its values and what matters to people in a post-pandemic world. Lots of amazing things can help support staff and they don’t always need to be financial. Peer on peer support however is essential to hear peoples’ concerns and create resilience within teams.
Support for other businesses
Collaboration between businesses and industries has been essential for both team and overall business resilience during the pandemic. Brewers had to work with pubs to collect stock that would not be able to sell and find ways to dispose of large quantities safely. Black Sheep even went to its competitors for help when their packaging supplier failed. Furthermore, brewers and their supply chains have had no government support so have come and worked together to gain it. The pandemic has created an environment for competing businesses to come together and help each other out and become stronger.
The pandemic has particularly exposed the fragility of global supply chains and the need to support each other to ensure economic resilience. This economic resilience trickles down from individual resilience to team resilience, to business resilience, to sectorial resilience.
Doug Fields’ advice for team resilience
Doug believes it is important to invest in continued support and wellbeing to ensure resilience in staff. Offering learning resources is one way to do this. As well as getting in professional help to assess the wellbeing of staff. East of England Co-op has partnered with charity Suffolk Mind to ensure staff has access to support where and when they need it and their voices are being heard.
Dyfrig Jenkins’ advice for team resilience
In the first few months of the pandemic, everyone was panicking and just trying to survive. As a result, there wasn’t much information on being resilient and managing teams in a virtual world. More information is available now. Businesses that were already progressing towards flexible working and wellbeing support before the pandemic have appeared to do better over the past 12 months than those who weren’t. It has become apparent that a team cannot be resilient if you as a manager are not resilient yourself. You, therefore, need to focus on yourself and self-care first or it will be impossible to look after others.
Positive energy and mindset
Dyfrig shared a quadrat, shown in the image below, that is a helpful framework to indicate where you and your team members are in terms of energy and mindset. Appropriate energy is needed to maintain a positive mindset. High energy and a positive mindset will lead to performing well. Whilst low energy and a negative mindset can lead to burnout. Managers need to ensure they are in a position of high energy and a positive mindset. They will then be able to effectively lead their teams in the same state and maintain resilience.
Lucy Pakes’ advice for team resilience
At Ashtons Legal, they were quick to communicate changes with both their clients and staff. Lucy speaks about the challenges of staying on top of communications regarding furlough as the scheme was changing so quickly. As the team people turned to for advice and updates, Lucy had to keep up with changes and communicate them quickly. They found that getting news out as soon as possible was the most effective way to reassure clients and stay resilient as a team. Sharing information and supporting each other was also key.
A lot of resilience is about how you frame a situation in your mind. If you view a challenging circumstance as something to deal with and move on rather than catastrophising, you are more likely to be able to move past it. This is something Lucy has been working to communicate with her clients over the past 12 months. Clients are especially asking for help in how to reinstall resilience and help their employees that are coming off furlough. These staff members are often finding they are coming back to a completely different job and company from when they left.
Lucy says that resilient people are able to focus on the things they can control and try not to focus on what they can’t. To help encourage this way of thinking, we need to give people as much information on things they can control and make clear what they can’t. This will leave a clearer head and remove unnecessary stress.