Building Resilience and Readiness to Change Through Team Discussion

Underlying perspective

This blog is written from the following perspectives –

  1. Forces for change can be characterised as being “external” i.e. driven by agents outside ourselves and “internal”, instigated or agreed upon by ourselves and drawing on our own thoughts, energy and action. Any change management development draws on people’s own abilities to adapt.
  2. People are so much more convinced by what comes out of their own mouths than others – however well meaning and expert. In many circumstances – i.e. when experiencing externally driven change – people can be actively resistant to ideas that may help them. This dynamic can be characterised as “I insist, you resist”. From a broader perspective we can see that dynamic played out in the failing struggle over public health – weight loss, smoking cessation, increased exercise etc. Being told what is good for you is sometimes less than convincing.
  3. The future will be different. Simply put, at the present time none of us wknow what the future will bring. There are therefore benefits to supporting personal change capacity in general terms, i.e. “ready for anything”, rather than specific terms, ready for a particular model of working of which we have no knowledge and may take some time to emerge.

Good Ideas

There are a lot of great ideas that can help people through change. Resilience work, Mindfulness, Meditation, Positive Thinking just being four that are currently in vogue. Once we have made up our mind we are happy/willing to go with change then these things can help us a lot. However, if other people think these things will be good for us AND we are in the process of unwilling external change, we may view these notions with suspicion. We may even reject these ideas as being of no use, believing that they exist to manipulate us into someone else’s agenda.

Personal and Social Capital

People’s capacity to change is almost infinite. Life is uncertain and then we die and even so people manage pretty well or even thrive. Individuals do so by devising ways of getting by – often, critically in the company or with the support of the people around them. People generally solve their problems by acknowledging them, considering how they would like things to be (the preferred future) and making the choice to take steps to manage them. Where these problems include elements over which they have no control, successful problem solvers consider how they would like preferred future to be in the context of that problem. When this process takes place with others in a similar position, then the problem solving can be rich and convincing.

Darwin spotted that it isn’t the strongest species that survive best but the ones most successfully adapt to change. Resilience and flexibility in the face of change can be considered as part of our personal capital. When this exists in a system – like a team – we can think of this as part of the social capital of that system.


 ·      We view teams as an important resource to support change and therefore arrange change management events to allow people to develop their future flexibility with their colleagues

  • Initially we take a facilitative approach is useful, drawing on the expertise of the group. Once people are more invested in the future, organisations may wish to offer Mindfulness, or other types of learning technologies to support those who want it.
  • The team sessions are structured around Appreciative Inquiry/Solution Focused ideals and structures. This helps groups talk about the future when they are managing the best they can.
  • We need to be careful of how these things are presented. Placing an emphasis on the choice of teams/individuals to get involved will help to create participants rather than passengers or prisoners.

Phil Jones

12th September 2014




It Really Isn’t the Content That Matters Most

Working with a group of managers yesterday they told me of their despair in using various trainers to support change in their company. They had bought in consultancy firms who had promised the latest in whizzy training – resilience, mindfulness etc. The training materials had been top notch and the events themselves had been fun. However there had been little change in a fairly demoralised and frightened workforce, some of who now viewed the training with suspicion, believing it a “sop” to their strong feelings about their experience of working in a highly uncertain environment.

What they hadn’t done was to allow their staff to talk and think together about how they were and what they hoped for the future. We all know that it’s the most flexible system that survives best, but being told that doesn’t help us at all. We resolve the worries in our lives, and build true resilience, by thinking and talking about how we will best manage, survive, overcome the circumstances in which we find ourselves. As training providers we need to move away from our shiny plus methodologies and develop ways of helping people have difficult conversations together.

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