Blog #8 – Resilience

This series of blogs has been dissecting, the ‘leadership > climate > performance’ value chain, as measured and optimised by the survey-based assessment tool, Performance Climate System (PCS).

Today we arrive at the last key PCS concept, measuring the leadership that drives climate and performance – Resilience. In my earlier articles, amid these Covid-19 pandemic months, I have drawn general parallels between 2020’s challenging circumstances and the help that the PCS model can apply.

Today, I thought I would touch on my own recent experience, regarding resilience. I have spent the last 12 weeks at home, locked down, just like the majority of us. Luckily, my own lock down circumstances have been pretty positive. But last Friday, I arrived at the end of the working week, possibly for the first time ever, with absolutely no hint of that usual Friday, start the weekend, exhaustion and excitement. I can explain that through the cabin fever, with shackles on, that I’m sure many of us have felt at times recently. Nonetheless, it was uncharacteristic for me. So, I pushed to fill the weekend with lots of exercise, great family time and focus on some genuine distractions; namely our new puppy, my lock-down nutrition regime and thoughts about a new start-up venture I’m conceiving (watch out for separate blogs!). After which, I am now typing this on a Monday morning full of resilience, based on renewed impetus, enthusiasm and objectives for this week.

As with all the constituent parts of PCS, defining resilience on its own sounds straight forward. However, when we focus that thinking on our current (or any other) times and combine it with the whole PCS analysis, we end up with a rounded, measurable and actionable playbook to apply to your team and organisation. Here is how PCS factors Resilience into the model.

Resilience: the ability to mitigate or minimize the impact of stress

Stress and pressure are constants. But they can be self-inflicted, or unintentionally increased by the expectations of the leader and/or the climate they foster. Resilience is the ability to mitigate or minimise the impact of stress.

The level of optimism in the team and the ability to face problems constructively and productively is important in mitigating stress. To sustain performance over the long term, the leader must ensure that the work of the team is manageable; that there is sufficient rest and time off built in, and the life balance of work and home is protected. Individuals should also feel valued and supported.

Therefore, Performance Climate System interprets a team’s Resilience using the following elements:

Optimism. This means the positivity within the team as well as towards the team’s vision and goals. PCS looks at whether the leader is sufficiently and appropriately positive and optimistic about the future. Conversely, it is logical to explore how a team manages setbacks, negativity or destructive thinking.  The PCS questionnaire assesses individuals’ perception of optimism in the team and what could be done to prevent negativity from impacting ‘morale’. Fundamentally, PCS tests how the leader could better support colleagues who are struggling with optimism, positivity or security about the future and it leads users to consider what the leader and team members could do to ensure the team retains a consistently positive outlook.

Life Balance: Here PCS is exploring the balance between time allocated for work and time available for other aspects of life. Life balance helps reduce stress and prevents burnout. The tool helps the leader consider how sustainable the pressure is on individuals and on the team as a whole. It looks at how the culture of the organisation impacts on life balance at the team-level. PCS examines how effective the leader is in protecting individuals’ life balance as well as how life balance issues are managed when a concern is raised. From the team members’ perspectives, PCS gauges how the leader recognises the impact of work stress and pressure on individuals, whilst considering what the leader can do to create a more sustainable balance within the team. In the case of already high-performing teams, PCS can help fine-tune by concentrating on how team members could support each other to enhance balance?

Support:  Following on from ‘life balance’, PCS also looks at a range of factors regarding support. For example, how well does the leader demonstrate support and respect for individual needs. This could span handling concerns (e.g. physical and physiological safety/well-being issues) raised by team members, through to recognising and supporting weaknesses and vulnerabilities. For completeness, PCS tests whether there is any sense of intimidation and excessive pressure in the organisation or team. Overall, evaluating levels of support is done to help the leader and team members support each other better, in order to create a stronger climate and optimise team performance

If you have been tracking this series closely, you will know that today’s look at Resilience concludes the deeper dive in to the six key pillars of PCS. We have looked at: Goals, Roles and Processes (under the ‘transactional’ hemisphere of the model), and then Adaptability, Connection and Resilience (under the ‘transformational’ hemisphere). Next week, I shall re-cap all of those angles, briefly touch on the other parts of the PCS analysis and finally talk about the ways you can access and utilise PCS in your own organisation.

Until then, with resilience – keep going!

Toby Ellison, June 2020

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.