As the world now evolves beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders are rethinking their priorities, particularly with the current threat of a global recession and slowed economic growth.
This is all against the backdrop of the Ukraine-Russia war, and the impact it has had on several global supply chains and the refugee crisis that has resulted.
While pundits are hopeful that the recession may not be severe, leaders are looking at ways to position their organisations to survive these historic times of disruption and change.
Some industries are responding to the imminent threat of a global recession by announcing layoffs and freezing recruitment, while others plan to restructure, adapt their operating models and leverage technology to drive better operational efficiencies and flexibility.
Change continues to be a business reality happening at break-neck speed and leaders are constantly looking at ways to evolve, innovate and outmanoeuvre competition.
There remain significant uncertainties around the second half of the year, leaving many leaders at a decision-making crossroads.
The business reality is tough, that, to survive and thrive, there is a need to be aware of what is changing. Leaders must be ready to shift expectations and pivot strategically, to adapt.
What is ‘change resilience’?
Change involves a lot of energy. It is a journey to an unknown destination where leaders, managers and employees have not been before.
It requires letting go of what was, and embarking on a transition before a new beginning emerges.
Change is inevitable, and going through it is often uncomfortable – studies have shown that it registers neurologically as pain in the brain.
Any change process rarely occurs in a straightforward, linear and ordered sequence, and often what we set out to achieve may not go as planned, eliciting confusion, anxiety and uncertainty about what the future holds.
It is during these times that stress is expected to rise.
Changes in business processes, new technologies or work practices are challenging. Managers and their teams may have a difficult time adapting.
It becomes even more difficult for people when the changes have a direct impact on their jobs and financial security, which can result in feeling a loss of control over their work environments and lives.
The reality is that often the pace of change overrides our natural capacity to assimilate, and it can feel like a lot to process all at once.
Yet leaders and employees must remain productive through challenging times, which is why resilience is important in helping buffer the effects of change.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties or setbacks, stronger, wiser and more able.
Every individual has a varying degree of resilience to change – though resilience can grow.
The pandemic was a significant disruption that tested governments, organisations and families around the globe.
Other major events will inevitably occur in the future, and governments and organisations will again face high levels of uncertainty and will need to respond quickly.
Resilience has been shown to influence work satisfaction and engagement, as well as overall well-being and lower depression levels, according to Harvard Business Review.
It can even help protect individuals from physical illness. Resilience is powerful – resulting in positive change and transformation.
Organisational resilience helps an organisation to withstand change and approach difficulties with adaptability. It presents opportunities to learn, grow and transform.
Resilient organisations are better positioned to navigate changes and challenges with more agility and adaptability.
Building change resilience
Leaders can foster resilience in their organisations through psychological safety and providing an environment that allows for new thinking and ways of working during times of disruption.
Providing a safe space for managers and employees to voice concerns, challenge the status quo and safely work through disagreements without fear of victimisation is key.
Organisational resilience is developed by building and focusing on cultivating behaviours and mindsets that encourage a focus on learning from mistakes, seeking the lessons and opportunities that emerge from challenging situations, listening to what the organisation and employees need, and providing leadership that is supportive, adaptable and consultative.
For individuals, research has demonstrated that relationships help us bounce back from difficulties and changes.
Resilience can therefore be enabled by nurturing and building strong relationships and networks both in our personal and professional lives, as these relationships help with making sense of a situation, rebuilding confidence, and finding a path forward through uncertainty.
The writer is the CEO of Cedar Africa Group.