Resiliency is the ability of an object to return to its original form or position after being affected by a force. Change resiliency represents the ability of an organization or individual to bounce back after experiencing change.
Why is this an important ability to possess? The cliché about change being the only constant applies to all industries, hence organizations with low change resilience are unable to adopt change at the pace required for them to remain competitive.
Some writers have used the analogy of a spring to describe this attribute – if you stretch it too far, it won’t bounce back, and if you don’t stretch it all, it will rust and also be unable to bounce back when pulled.
I prefer to use the analogy of a muscle.
A muscle needs to be fed, given the time to rest, but also needs to be stressed to the point of exhaustion and fatigue so that growth happens.
How do we know if we are feeding change resiliency well?
Check employee engagement survey feedback. If staff are indicating that they don’t feel engaged and believe that there is insufficient recognition of their efforts, the muscle is likely not receiving the nutrition required. Regular, right-sized recognition, coaching for development (and not just performance), and an emphasis on good quality talent management can help.
What about rest?
Ask any professional athlete what happens if they push themselves too hard for too long and they’ll tell you the same thing – their performance drops dramatically. It’s the same with change resilience. If staff experience a volley of changes with very little breathing room between to find their equilibrium, they will soon experience change fatigue and the good will which may have been built through well managed changes of the past will be lost.
So why do we need stress?
Although continuous change results in change fatigue, minimal change can reinforce a desire to maintain the status quo such that when a large change occurs, staff are unable to adapt in an agile manner. This is why it is good to have staff experience changes of different sizes and impacts on a somewhat regular basis such that their ability to cope becomes more dynamic.
Like all muscles, when properly treated, change resilience grows. Neglect it and you run the polar extremes of atrophy or fatigue.