Happy Birthday…to me!  (By the way, to all those people who think that Stevie Wonder confused the Diamond Jubilee with her birthday yesterday, actually the ‘official’ Queen’s Birthday is celebrated anywhere from the end of may to mid-June.  In fact, the Spring Bank Holiday – which was moved to yesterday – was originally established partly to celebrate her birthday.  So, his song was spot on.  He was obviously one of the few to realise that in the hubbub of the Jubilee celebrations, her birthday might get overlooked.  Class act, Stevie).

I get the day off today. Not just for the Jubilee. One of my gifts has been a guest post by Sean Conrad, Certified Human Resources Professional and senior product analyst at Halogen Software (a leading provider of HR software that supports employee high performance).  He’s a reader of the blog and the observations on embracing failure prompted him to ask whether the lessons of personal resilience be applied to organisations?

Dr. Martine Flament, director of the Youth Research Unit at The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and others have been investigating resilience in adolescence. “Life is tough,” especially for youngsters at this formative age, but how teenagers respond to their many stresses varies widely. The research team sought to uncover what variables led to stronger resilience among some. They came up with the following key factors, which are just as potent for organisations as they seem to be for individuals…

  1. Communication” – Regular communication, reminding people of both the organisation’s and their individual objectives, relieves anxiety about the regular buffets to the business, provides context for their work, and keeps people focused on what matters. Managers should engage in an ongoing, two-way formal and informal dialogue with their employees about expectations, performance and development needs, supported by regular, formal performance reviews. This can take the form of: in-the-moment feedback on performance; weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss work, progress and priorities; quarterly reviews to discuss performance, development needs, progress and goals; employee newsletters, intranet pages, and/or company or divisional "all hands" meetings ;etc.
  2. Support within the family and the peer group” – At work, this means supporting employee friendships, encouraging camaraderie and support between co-workers, and fostering a learning culture. In a learning culture, challenges, performance gaps, mistakes and failures are seen as learning opportunities. Managers and others provide guidance, coaching, feedback and development activities to help employees acquire or deepen the knowledge/skills/experience they need to succeed.
  3. Sense of belonging in the community” – Organisational culture can be one of those things that is hard to directly manage because in many ways it is intangible. But culture helps build community, which is a contributor to resilience. One of the ways you can intentionally cultivate your organisation’s culture is through core competencies. Competencies describe "how" we do work. They can include things like: customer focus, quality of work, cross cultural sensitivity. By including core competencies in job descriptions and job requisitions, and assessing employees’ demonstration of them in performance reviews, you help hire and develop people with a shared culture and values, giving them a sense of belonging to the organisation.