Businesses can be complex machines! They involve many tangible and intangible levers all consciously or unconsciously designed to deliver a customer value proposition. Building a resilient business is all about conscious and deliberate action designed to simplify the complex.

The thoughts shared in this article are borne out of my experience. It predominantly covers more intangible human aspects of business required to build resilience and achieve breakthrough results.

Resilience is that thing that ensures you can survive and thrive through any headwind and optimise opportunity through any tailwind. It is what ensures you sleep soundly at night and provides an environment where everyone is on the same page.

There are four key areas to building a resilient business. A vision (map), a business plan (journey plan), a purpose (the reason for taking the journey) and culture (how we get things done).

  • The vision and purpose set the scene, our “Why”.
  • A business plan sets the objectives.
  • Leadership sets the attitude and purpose.
  • Culture sets the performance.

 

Vision and Purpose

Your people need to understand what the company stands for, otherwise known as its purpose or the “Why”.

The “Why” is not a sales slogan but rather an emotional connection to the business. It describes, energises and engages employees, engenders pride and is a reason for them (and you), to get out of bed in the morning excited about coming to work.

Being able to communicate a clearly defined vision and purpose creates a shared understanding, shared ownership and a high level of engagement for people. Evidence shows that high employee engagement results in improved bottom-line results, more effective performance and low staff turnover. Leaders that can passionately and succinctly describe their “why” are seen as inspirational and motivational.

It is up to leadership to continuously communicate their vision with clear purpose and clarity.

 

Business Plan

Without a plan, the business is rudderless, and the default position becomes the hope plan! There are, of course, many successful businesses that operate on the hope plan, the question is, how much more successful could they have been and what opportunities were missed? How sustainable are these businesses, how resilient are they and how stressful was the journey for the owner?

An effective plan will be,

  • linked to strategy
  • time-bound
  • supported with the appropriate financial and people resource
  • realistically attainable.

Having an ambitious plan is encouraged but if financial and people resources are too thinly spread, the objectives will not be achieved. The plan and the strategy should be your guiding principles for the uptake or decline of new opportunities.

Ultimately the goal is to stay aligned with what matters in terms of achieving planned outcomes and retaining people. A plan is only as good as the process that is in place to manage it, it must be measured, reviewed and when off-track, action taken promptly. This is best achieved through a monthly review and action process such as an advisory board.

Once the strategy and the business plan are defined, it is up to leadership to continuously communicate this as key objectives along with the vision. While it is great to have a rudder and a captain to steer the ship, if the destination and reason for the journey are not shared with the crew, the team is highly likely to set off on its own agenda.

 

Leadership

Inspiring leaders are authentic and transparent. They continuously communicate vision, objectives and role model company values and behaviours. They operate with integrity, transparency, celebrate and acknowledge success and provide an opportunity for their people to thrive and grow.

An authentic leader does not place blame or focus on the past. They look to the future, use opportunities for growth and continuous learning, extend trust, seek and accept feedback from others. They also encourage independent decision-making through “freedom within a framework”. This type of leadership typically exists in a high employee engagement environment. Employees understand their role in the plan, can operate in confidence and trust and can hold others to account without blame or personal agenda. They feel united, safe and act with a common purpose.

The behaviour you set as a leader is a standard you set for your staff.

Exceptional leaders recognise their capability gaps and hire or outsource areas that either upskill, add value or add diversity to thinking and decision-making. Aside from this, they have a planning mindset, they are curious and develop personal resilience based on sound management and care for their health and wellbeing as well as those around them.

 

Performance Culture

A business culture provides the framework for the execution of the plan. The culture or performance needs to match the expected outcomes, if the performance is right then the outcomes will take care of themselves. Performance cultures hold people and teams to account for failure or breakdowns. They measure progress and performance regularly, provide timely and frank feedback, value diversity and have a collective responsibility for failure, risk and pushing boundaries. They leave egos at the door and have only one agenda which is performance orientation or breakthrough performance.

Among the various elements that make up culture, values are a critical component. They underpin behaviours, attitudes and how we choose to manage relationships, conflicts, commitments and have conversations. In the absence of company values, individual employees’ values will override desired behaviours. The result can be toxic manifesting in conflict, agitation, hidden agendas and staff turnover. Values alignment should always be a consideration when recruiting employees.

There is always a good story to be had for non-achievement but no result plus a good story still equals no result!

 

Checklist

Failure to deliver on projects and commitments still reigns as one of the biggest challenges for businesses. Nearly 80% of businesses (large and small) fail to deliver on their plans. How you measure and monitor performance will determine how successfully the business plan is executed.

The type of leadership, communication, values and culture in practice also play a large part. Company culture and leadership are the two most likely factors to influence retention of good people than any other single element.

A business that has great plans, a sound balance sheet, performance culture and inspiring leadership will be a resilient business. It is most likely to beat the competition; attract and retain great staff; ensure you sleep soundly and is more likely to survive external shocks such as COVID-19.

By Steve Alesech | Business Advisor