Only Resilient Organizations Will Survive
In these times there is a great deal of talk about how only resilient organizations will thrive. They say that you have to be resilient enough to bounce back...
But resiliency is more than just bouncing back; Resiliency is learning and bouncing higher. Truly resilient organizations come back stronger and smarter from challenges and setbacks.
In my first article on resiliency , we looked at the role of hopefulness in creating resilient organizations.
I use as my starting point Brigid Gillespie's research on resiliency among OR nurses. She identified Hope, Self-Efficacy, Coping, and Competence as critical factors in fostering resiliency.
Self-efficacy: You Can Do It!
The phrase 'self-efficacy' is a mouthful, but there really isn’t a word to replace it with… trust me, I tried!
Self-efficacy is the belief we have the capacity to successfully perform a specific action in a specific situation. You have the belief the problem before you really is solvable, you have confidence that given your capacity, and you are the right person to solve it.
The higher your level of self-efficacy, the more resilient you are.
The critical components of self-efficacy are agency, competence, effectiveness, and support.
Agency is the belief we are the authors of our own stories. Team members who have a high degree of self-efficacy are checked in, self-directed, and don’t blame. Their instinct is to assess a problem to see if it lies within their domain of experience and training, and if so, try to solve it. If it goes off the rails, they don’t blame others, but take responsibility for doing what it takes to turn it around (especially looking for more information, mentoring, and team support).
We feel competent when we believe we have the skills to get the job done. Important components in the competency toolbox are education and experience, but it’s belief that is primary. We can have all the education in the world, but if we don’t believe we can be successful in a specific situation, our self-efficacy slips.
Effectiveness is the belief our actions will lead to predictable desired outcomes. This speaks both to our feelings of competence, and our belief that we are able to ‘read’ a situation correctly; to bring the right tools to bear on the job. If agency and competence are about capacity, effectiveness is about focus. We feel most effective when we do something in the most focused, economical, elegant way possible.
Agency, Competence, and Effectiveness come largely from within us. Support is what happens around us to increase self-efficacy. Also called system responsiveness, organizational support describes the extent to which our environment enables us to do what we do best. Self-efficacy decreases when the organization we work for undermine our efforts. Even people with a strong sense of agency, effectiveness, and competence, can find themselves second-guessing when a dysfunctional environment of insecure peers, chaotic systems, and power-tripping bosses grinds away at them.
We have a high level of self-efficacy, the sure knowledge we are up to the challenge before us, when we have agency, competence, effectiveness, and support from our environment.
Here's Your Part Boss
What does our organization have to do to ensure high levels of self-efficacy in employees, and reap the benefits of the resiliency that comes with it?
Hire the right people.
Self-efficacy is developed over a life-time, and is difficult to instill if it is not there at all when you hire. Look for a sense of self-reliance and responsibility. Interview for the ability to read situations and assess correctly. Look for life-experience. Don’t hire only for skills and education. Know what kind of talents, instincts, and behaviours you need in a specific role. Remember that techniques, tips and tricks, can always be taught.
Increase organizational support.
This is where great managers play a key role in creating resilient organizations. Great managers know what strengths and competencies employees bring with them, and do everything they can to make those even stronger. They know that the most powerful tool in increasing self-efficacy is frequent, meaningful, positive feedback. The heart of a truly responsive organization is great management. At the same time, don’t underestimate the importance of functional, elegant, consistent systems. These are the scaffolding that allows great work to take place. Few things make star employees check out faster than rickety, frustrating, inconsistent systems and policies.
Support life-long learning.
Providing thoughtful, targeted learning opportunities for our employees addresses all four components of greater self-efficacy. Knowledge feeds our levels of agency, competence, and effectiveness. The fact we are supporting the learning of each employee increases system responsiveness.
Self-efficacy gives us the faith that no matter how challenging the task before us, we believe we can be successful. And even if we fail, high self-efficacy allows us to use the experience as a learning opportunity to apply to the next similar situation. That is the heart of resilience: coming back even stronger from both successes and failures.
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