June 28, 2021 |

Change is life’s only constant

Change is life's only constant

In the words of Paramahansa Yogananda: “change is life’s only constant.” No truer words have been spoken, nor are they more relevant than after the sweeping disruptions to our work lives, health, economy, and social systems experienced in 2020.

But how do we—as writers, leaders, team members, and individuals—enact resilience in order to gracefully navigate life’s only constant? Is our capacity for resilience merely trait driven, or can we develop skills in order to build resilience muscles?

According to bestselling author and ADP Researcher Marcus Buckingham, who presented findings from his recent study on “building resilient teams”, it’s both. Furthermore, he asserts: “people don’t fear change, they fear the unknown.” So, if you’re a company attempting to rush back to normal, don’t bother unless you have a concrete plan and can offer visibility to your senior leadership and their teams. The result sans foresight: less resilience, more fear, and waning trust in leadership. 

Some key findings from the study provide a cautionary tale, while at once reminding us that resilience is within our grasp.

For starters, only 17% of the workforce feels highly resilient. Clearly, company leaders across business types, industries, and geographies have a tremendous amount of work to do in this particular area.

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Another interesting data point is the correlation between experiencing constant change and resilience. The findings show that workers who experience five or more changes at work are 13.2x more likely to be resilient.

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In his study, Buckingham breaks down the workforce into three categories: senior leadersteam leaders, and self. For each bucket, he offers tips for how to help build resilience more effectively, based on questions posed to each group. 

For senior leaders, the study suggests that employees need vivid foresight and visible follow-through. Simply put, don’t spout grandiose plans unless there is an actionable plan people can see.

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In terms of team leaders, the findings are similar but nuanced: people want anticipatory communication and psychological safety. How do leaders accomplish this? Buckingham says it’s relatively easy: “Continually ask your team members what they need, then ask how you can help them. The frequency is important. Think small and iterative. This communication style creates safety and trust.”

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Lastly, when it comes to the self, we all need agency, the ability to compartmentalize, and strengths at work. Surprisingly, we don’t need to perfectly love our jobs all of the time; rather we need freedom on how we work, the environment and ability to focus, and a portion of work (even as little as 20%) that squarely fits in the “things we love to do” category.

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Thank you Mr. Buckingham and ADPRI for such a hopeful, positive, actionable study that provides utility to business leaders worldwide. ‘Preciate ya.

Credits: Rebekah Iliff, writer; Pixabay, image

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