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Personal resilience in team settings

Our way of working is constantly challenged by our changing environment. Resilient individuals, teams and organisations learn and adapt to emerging realities. What does resilience mean in our day to day work and what skills do we, as an individual, need to develop?

Our landscape is continuously changing

In the workplace our landscape is continuously changing. Companies innovate at a rate between 10% and 30% per year. Climate change, technological and societal transitions, sustainability developments, other business models and international game changers force organisations to rethink the way work is organized. The current trend is towards team-based structures, such as holacracy, agile teams, multidisciplinary teams and self-organizing teams.

What is personal resilience?

Resilience is the ability to recover from or to adjust to change. This could relate to superficial changes in the context of work, such as changes in work location, assignments or systems. Resilience also relates to the deep change in organisations, such as a change in the purpose, the values and the social (team) structures. A survey among 2600 individuals shows that 51% feels that adaptivity, in the sense of evaluating and improving daily work routines, has a low priority.

Learning is key

Personal resilience is not new. It is an intrinsic quality that we are using since we were born. Every change we have faced in the past is a learning experience that we can re-use. Since we were a child we were able to ‘look in the future’ and adapt how we think, feel and behave. Learning is key. Without learning we are less effective in adapting to the current level of change in our work setting.

What skills do we need for personal resilience at work?

The following five basic skills improve personal resilience:

  • to maintain a sufficient energy level;
  • to stay balanced in case of tensions;
  • to know what to focus on;
  • to improve the quality and intensity of interaction with others;
  • to learn and to adapt at a deeper level.

How do we apply these skills in teams?

I analyzed 2600 success factor scans, in which team members rate how they experience thirty-five success markers. My first question was: Do we feel we have the energy, internal balance and focus needed to break down old routines and build up new working routines?

internal balance, table

  • Energy: We feel energized when we interact with each other
  • Balance: We experience a healthy balance between expectations and reality.
  • Focus: We focus group attention on what matters most.


The quality and intensity of interaction with our peer relations at work defines how well we are able to influence our working environment. This skill builds on the previous three skills. When team members feel energized, maintain an emotional balance and focus on what is important the next step is to improve the interaction to a quality level that allows adaptation to deeper levels of change.

table quality of interaction

  • Generative mindset: We align inspirations and ambitions into a collective drive;
  • Improve together: We easily team up with others to improve our personal work;
  • Balanced values: We are sensitive to the expectations and values of other team members.

Adaptivity is blocked by a lack of social learning

In order to adjust to change we must be able to see and feel beyond the daily work routine. Do we sense the bigger system we work in and are we able to the root cause of persistent problems? Only by learning, both as a person and as a group, we are capable of anticipating to the future.

table social learning

  • Understand Root cause: We understand the root cause of problems;
  • Learn together: We regularly engage in collective learning events to analyse interdependencies;
  • Anticipate by learning: We continuously learn in order to better anticipate to future events.

Overall conclusion

Personal resilience at work is increasingly becoming an important topic due our changing landscape. Even taking into account the limited scope of the information (2600 team members), it provides us with a snapshot of the current perception of our skill set in teamwork.  It seems that we are able to cope with superficial change, but we need to develop our skills to anticipate to the deep change ahead. In order to do so we need to develop our collective learning capability and collective intelligence.

Are you curious?

Please contact me. I am happy to talk with change maker about ways to improve personal or team resilience. I am a certified health coach and I have helped many teams in various setting to develop, to perform and to learn.

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