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To download our 'building resilience' guide, along with tips on developing resilience for different team members according to their Team Roles, please complete the form at the bottom of the page.

Building resilience in a VUCA world

Challenging times present opportunities for personal growth, discovering new skills and building resilience.

Resilience is our ability to adapt well in a crisis and to recover quickly from difficulties. Whilst we may be affected by what is going on around us, resilience gives us the elasticity of response that allows us to adapt – and that elasticity can be learned and practised.

To develop resilience, we need to understand our strengths.

There are five pillars of resilience: self-awareness, mindfulness, self-care, positive relationships and purpose. When it comes to work, gaining an awareness of our Belbin Team Role strengths can help with some of those pillars.

When we are able to work to our strengths (and understand the strengths others have to offer), we are able to build more positive working relationships and work with more purpose.

We might practise self-care by setting boundaries and switching off at set times without feeling guilty. And we can learn to show ourselves the same compassion we show to others when it comes to the kind of work we struggle with.

We can work with others who have complementary skill sets, safe in the knowledge that they'll not only be able to help out, but might actually enjoy the work in question.

It isn’t just individuals. Teams and organisations need resilience too.

Remote working places the responsibility to keep things afloat more than ever on individual shoulders.

At the height of the pandemic, teams working from home reported higher levels of productivity but falling engagement. Many workers began to feel isolated without face-to-face contact, and work-life balance came under threat, with many feeling unable to 'switch off' at the end of a working day.

With the advent of hybrid working, we need long-term solutions – to re-energise teams and help organisations to adapt to new ways of working.

Just like resilient people, resilient teams need self-awareness. They need to take a virtual water cooler moment and examine their collective response to different types of challenges.

Three paths to progress: improvisation, heuristics and routines

Researchers have identified three approaches to work which can help managers who are managing a remote team in volatile circumstances.

  • Firstly, there are organisational routines which are efficient when work is predictable. Many of our established work processes fall into this category.
  • Next, there are heuristics. These are rules of thumb that can provide shortcuts, speeding up processes and decision-making and prioritising the use of resources. (Phone triage of patients in general practice is an example which has arisen from the pandemic.)
  • Lastly, there is improvisation – spontaneous, creative efforts to solve problems that crop up at very short notice.

The researchers argue that any team will perform better – and crucially, be more resilient – if it is able to move comfortably between the three and understand how the different approaches might interact and morph into one another.

When a situation departs far enough from the team’s expectations, improvisation becomes necessary.

The team might then develop a simple rule (heuristics), based on their experience of how the improvisation worked. Heuristics are a good middle ground because they allow adjustment to a faster pace, without the team having to abandon their underlying principles.

Once the situation stabilises, the simple rule might be developed into a new routine.

Teams and organisations can be actively trained to alter the combination of routines, heuristics and improvisation to meet changing requirements.

Sounds great, but how do we ensure 'buy-in' from team members?

When change is rapid, so is improvisation. This can alienate team members who didn’t originate the idea, especially in virtual work where communication can be hit-and-miss. They might feel left behind – excluded from the decision-making process and disengaged with the purpose of the change. 

So, in addition to understanding the three approaches, it’s crucial to know the strengths of your team members and the behavioural culture of your team. This way, you can predict how others are likely to respond to change and decide who to send into battle at which time.

You’ll know who needs to be sold on the benefits of heuristics and who will be desperate for the chance to improvise.

To download our 'building resilience' guide, along with tips on developing resilience for different team members according to their Team Roles, please complete the form at the bottom of the page.

Practice makes perfect

Building resilience and elasticity in our approach is a long-term investment in ourselves and our teams. It requires reflection, self-forgiveness and a lot of practice.

Tired teams? Struggling with how to manage remote teams? If your team’s energy is flagging, we’re here to help.

To find out more about the numerous applications of Belbin (including feeding back Reports and using Belbin to enhance team performance), why not give us a call?

Please can I request a copy of the Belbin building resilience guide. Thank you.

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