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StrategyFeb 26, 2014

Building Resilience in an Ever-Changing World: Part 2 – How to Build Your Resilience Factor

Allison Howard

If change is inevitable, as we discussed in the first part of this series, how can we learn to manage change well without experiencing future shock?

Daryl Conner, author of Managing at the Speed of Change, has found that the most important trait exhibited among individuals who successfully adapt to major change is resilience, which he defines as “the capacity to absorb high levels of change while displaying minimal dysfunctional behavior” (Conner, 6). Resilient people are not superhuman—they experience fear of change and dislike ambiguity as much as anyone else. However, these people have learned how to react well to change and to function productively while minimizing stress in the midst of change.

How Resilient People Deal With Change

Resilient individuals and organizations have learned to expect change and see it as a natural—even beneficial—part of life, however unpleasant it may be. Their strong sense of purpose keeps them on course and allows them to view change in the scope of a larger vision. Conner asserts that resilient people are “positive, focused, flexible, organized, and proactive” (Conner, 238). These characteristics are what allow resilient people to consistently learn from change and become stronger because of it. They have also learned how to reduce the impact of any one change, while increasing their overall threshold for change. They achieve this by increasing their understanding of how change occurs and how to communicate and manage resistance in the midst of change.

How to Build Resilience

Resilience is built into all of us in varying degrees. Resilience is stronger in some, but we all have the ability to strengthen this characteristic in ourselves and even to help others in this process. In order to build resilience into our own character, we must understand how we respond to change and how we can emulate resilience we identify in others.

Below are a few practical ways we can begin this process:

  • Set goals and frame a purpose and vision for your life or your organization.

  • Learn to expect change and view it as natural and manageable.

  • Learn about common change reaction patterns to understand your individual and organizational response to change.

  • Understand your change threshold and refuse to engage in change that will push you or your organization over this limit.

  • Discuss reactions to change with someone you view as highly resilient and understand how they manage change.

  • Build and rely on nurturing relationships and understand when to ask for help.

What other ways have you or someone you know built resilience in the midst of change? Send us a tweet @Credera or comment below to let us know.

Photo credit:SubFlux