In our previous resilience blog post, we described strategies you can employ for strengthening the resilience muscle and how, positive relationships can bolster personal resilience and are important for supporting others, especially as they navigate setbacks and disruption. As working patterns have shifted significantly to remote networks, employees are left without the personal interactions that they’ve been accustomed to and are crucial for healthy engagement. According to a recent Gartner survey of 800 HR Executives, 88 percent of organizations have encouraged or required employees to work from home related to COVID-19.
We don’t expect this trend to snap back to pre-pandemic normalcy anytime soon. Organizations that may have once been reluctant to move towards remote work arrangements are rethinking their approach, seeing the cost and efficiency benefits that come with remote work. As a result, the rhythm and nature of our working relationships will continue to shift, creating new challenges for how we can best collaborate with and support our colleagues.
It’s not going to be easy. According a recent Virtual Teams Survey, teams working virtually are more challenged in managing conflict (73%), making decisions (69%), and expressing opinions (64%). Without in-person interactions we lose important verbal and non-verbal cues that help create deeper understanding and establish the foundation for collegial, productive working relationships.
Being deliberate in how we support teammates and colleagues is more critical than ever. Tactics that serve to nurture positive relationships and build resilience can be leveraged to make deeper connections and help others be more adaptive and productive amid the turmoil of change. These tactics can be drawn from the work in emotional and social intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. It’s about knowing how we and others feel, why we feel that way, and (perhaps most importantly) what we can do about it. Emotional intelligence is a discipline that can be sharpened with practice and is critical for nurturing productive working relationships. It’s not about being “touchy-feely” or nice all the time.
Here are some ways you can use the competencies of emotional intelligence to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of your colleagues:
The understanding of one’s own social and emotional strengths and weaknesses can also facilitate more productive interactions with others. A greater recognition of your own reactions to disruption (e.g. what triggers a strong emotional response) enhances the capacity for a more empathetic response to others who may also be experience anxiety or stress.
Empathy is the ability to tune in with another person’s perspective, responding to others with sensitivity and compassion. Demonstrated empathy starts and ends with the ability to listen. Someone who is actively listening and responding quickly establishes a strong empathetic connection with the other person. Listen deeply to what is being said and ask probing questions to demonstrate interest and understanding.
This competency involves the interaction of several different skills that, taken together, contribute to more productive, engaging interactions with others.
The ability to motivate others to confidently respond to and adapt to change
Serving others in developing their skills to grow, both professional and personally
Appreciating differences of perspective and opinion to create a healthy foundation for learning
Similar to the competency of self-awareness, self-management is focused on being intentional in our stance in the face of disruption and change. You can’t ask others to be resilient and adaptable if you aren’t demonstrating those characteristics in your day-to-day interactions. This competency also relates to being transparent and honest in our communications, which fosters integrity and trust in relationships.
According the the Center for Creative Leadership 75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust. The ability to proactively and creatively support our co-workers can make a difference in job satisfaction and organizational resilience as we continue to navigate the difficulties precipitated by Covid-19.