Why does Adversity Forces Growth?

Posted by Kim Wise on Fri, May 29, 2020 @ 08:00 AM

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

Covid-19 - by now we’ve all read a zillion tweets, news articles and blogs about it. It’s the most talked about topic on the internet and is mentioned an estimated 20 million times a day across social media and the web.

It’s scary stuff. It’s displaced the world and industry as we know it. Here are some quick facts on how the pandemic has impacted companies:

  • 62% of the U.S. population is working remotely.
  • Only 23% of U.S. employees feel they can apply their organization’s values to their work day.
  • Only 41% of workers wish to return to their workplace after this over.

Lot’s of doom and gloom. Bad news sells and seems to circulate like wildfire. But that doesn’t mean morale and company culture need to suffer. The difference between great organizations and people is that they come through adversity stronger, not crippled.

There are new obstacles. Mental Health is being tried and unprecedented economic barriers are taking shape. But remember, pressure turns coal into diamonds.

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” - Walt Disney

Leaders need to take action through story.

During this time leaders need to communicate more than ever. There are many great leaders and their character varies wildly person to person, but most of them have one thing in common - they are great storytellers.

Tell stories. Tell the story of your company. Tell stories of past success, failure and obstacles overcome. Share stories of what’s happening right now within the company. Tell stories about what the future holds.

Leaders can never communicate the big picture in the framework of stories enough. It takes constant inspiration and message repetition to boost morale and create company culture.

Ken Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, often paraphrased Napoleon in saying that leaders need to define reality and give hope. Essentially, it is up to leaders to tell people what is happening now and inspire them by outlining the opportunities that the future holds for them both individually and institutionally.

Stories are a great vehicle to inspire hope, trust, compassion, stability and create a company culture of growth.

Paychecks are nice. But being part of a story is one of the strongest motivations there is and your workforce can’t participate if they don’t know the narrative. Tell them.

Managers need to get proactive

Involving employees with a company’s story takes action. Posting a blog post about company origins and directions helps but it’s not enough to post and email it out.

Company culture is defined by “how we do things.” And the “how we do things” during this time has drastically shifted.

Managers can get proactive and help to establish new rituals, new patterns of work, new methods of collaboration and partnership.

Maybe when things got shut down profits tanked? But why not rewrite the story and have the company actively pull together by connecting in new ways? Perhaps, before Covid-19 lower level employees were never given access to upper echelon management. Communication channels could be opened up making top management accessible to anyone - ideas and feedback and brainstorms can be circulated throughout the company.

Showing employees you care about them as a person, and not only as a producer of work, is critical during this time.

Give them a story and open the doors so they can help write it and your company will grow in the face of not just Covid-19 but all the adversity the universe can throw at you.

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Topics: Age Diversity in the Workplace, Employee Value Proposition, Employee Engagement, Employee Retention, Employee Resource Groups, Coaching