3 Common Barriers to Organizational Resilience

“Organizational resilience” has become something of a buzzphrase over the past decade or so. Many organizations say they’re resilient and may even have implemented some of the best practices that can lead to organizational resilience. But when put to the test, they stumble over common roadblocks that impede their ability to flex and adapt as needed to demonstrate true resilience.

Employees get frustrated with organizations that say they are resilient when they aren’t. And the organization is responsible for nurturing resilience in its workforce, not the other way around. To forge the path to resilience, an organization needs to give its people permission to adapt, flex, pivot, and “fail quickly.” The people must be empowered to learn and adapt individually so that the organization can do the same collectively.

In this blog, we’ll explore common pain points that organizations often encounter on the path to resilience and suggests ways to solve them.

Barrier 1: Not Putting People First

Many organizations struggle with change because they fail to put their people at the front of their planning efforts. They redesign processes or select and implement technology without speaking first to the people whom the change will affect. These companies think that addressing the “people’s needs” is the last step in the process.

It’s easy to see why this is the case. Managing people can be difficult. Unlike a machine, people can’t be controlled. And when it comes to change, people’s reactions can be difficult to predict. They may immediately see the value in the change and welcome it. Or they may feel angry, or even threatened, that they are being asked to learn something new.

But putting off the “people side” of change puts the organization at a disadvantage. Addressing the people affected by the change up-front helps to mitigate potential issues early on. It also allows them to participate in the change and have a sense of ownership over it. And it allows them time to react, recover, and adapt to the idea of change.

Change management is about managing the people side of change. The goal is to set up the people involved for the successful adoption of planned change. Effective change management takes a people-first approach.

Questions to Get Yourself into a People-First Mindset

For every project and initiative, get in the habit of formally evaluating the following:

  • Who will be affected by the change?
  • How will they be affected by the change?
  • What challenges or pain points does the change address? Whose challenges or pain points are they? How do we know?
  • What are the best avenues to communicate with those who will be affected by the change?
  • What can the organization do to help people through the change process before, during, and after the change takes place?
  • What parts of the change process can people “own” for themselves?
  • At every step along the way, what assumptions are we making? How are we going to validate (or invalidate) our assumptions?

Empower your employees by giving them a voice in the change that is taking place. Getting feedback directly from the people who are experiencing the change helps to test assumptions the planning team has made. As projects move forward, employee resilience should continuously be gauged. The organization should have a plan for mitigating scope creep and be ready to pivot as necessary to feedback.

Barrier 2: Getting Stuck in a Fixed Mindset

People and organizations with a fixed mindset believe that change is risky and should be avoided when possible. They think every person has inherent abilities and limitations that they cannot significantly change. They see mistakes as signs of failure.

Organizations with a fixed mindset typically view people as expendable. Any individual in the organization can be replaced by a new individual, so there is no significant value in investing in people. Also, because they see talent as innate, they do not see the value in creating learning experiences for employees.

In contrast, hallmarks of a growth mindset include:

  • Cultivating positive energy in change
  • Persistence when confronted by obstacles
  • Embracing mistakes as opportunities to learn

Organizations with a growth mindset foster a learning-centric atmosphere that encourages skills growth and innovation. They encourage employees to contribute and innovate, and they take meaningful lessons from failure and mistakes.

People and organizations with a growth mindset typically adapt better to change and disruption. They perceive them as growth opportunities. They have instilled a culture of adaptability that allows them to pivot and adjust as required by their new reality.

Strategies for Cultivating a Growth Mindset

Companies can encourage a growth mindset by doing the following:

  • Evaluate performance based on skills improvement instead of performance metrics
  • Reference failures as learning opportunities and communicate the value of lessons learned
  • Create a psychologically safe environment where employees are empowered to speak up, contribute, and challenge the status quo
  • Cultivate an environment that encourages employees to identify reskilling and upskilling opportunities from their vantage point
  • Provide reskilling and upskilling training opportunities (in-house or external), especially focusing on those needs identified by employees, as these represent the intersection of organizational need and individual interest
  • Support mentoring and coaching relationships among staff to promote skills expansion and cross-organization learning

Barrier 3: Organizational Silos

Silos fundamentally impede organizational resilience because they cause breakdowns in internal communication and cooperation. They often breed toxic work cultures and derail teams from achieving company objectives. Several factors can be responsible for siloing behaviors within an organization, from inadequate communication tools to competition for resources.

Optimizing resilience throughout an organization requires collaboration across departments and job functions. Changes made in one area may impact another. When departments, teams, or individuals work in isolation from each other, relationships and dependencies among them can be easily missed. A department may follow all the change management best practices for its own people or product, but could still inflict widespread damage by failing to see how the change could impact another area of the organization.

Strategies for Breaking Down Organizational Silos

  • Work with leaders across the organization to
  • Create a unified vision for cross-departmental collaboration
  • Set common goals that map to achieving that vision
    Encourage cross-silo collaboration and discussion
  • Assign liaisons to facilitate cross-departmental efforts
  • Leverage technology and collaboration tools to enable transparency and communication across the organization
  • Organize cross-department training, development, and team-building activities to increase familiarity and improve lines of communication
  • Incentivize cross-department collaboration
    As with any initiative, monitor progress continuously; make adjustments as necessary

Does Your Organization Need Help Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Resilience?

Change isn’t always easy and knowing where to start can be confounding! GSX helps organizations develop innovative talent management and human capital strategies using multiple forms of credentialing and learning solutions. We work with your organization to build and maintain agility and resiliency in your workforce through a fully customizable methodology, advanced readiness tools, and critical analytics that addresses your need to focus on the change concerns of today and tomorrow.

If your organization is struggling to adapt to change in the workplace, Global Skills X-Change can help! Contact us today!

Media Contact

Kevin Edwards ⋅ (703) 653-0596media@gsxcorp.com

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