Building a resilient team in uncertain times

It’s safe to say that businesses haven’t had the easiest time over the last few years. And that uncertainty looks set to continue.

Building a resilient team in uncertain times

It’s safe to say that businesses haven’t had the easiest time over the last few years. And that uncertainty looks set to continue. Between the war in Ukraine, political instability, rising costs and potential rolling blackouts there is a lot for organisations to contend with. Many businesses have dealt with layoffs and redundancies, but despite the inclement conditions, some have continued to grow. 

Flexibility over size

Creating a resilient organisation within this climate is something that many business leaders feel rightly proud of. What we’re seeing at the moment is that it’s not the biggest and strongest organisations that survive, but those who are most adaptable to change. We’ve seen huge layoffs and strikes at the biggest organisations, while smaller more agile organisations continue to thrive and grow. 

If you’re growing your business, how can you best grow your team during uncertain times?

There are two routes that people commonly go down. One is building and recruiting a team, while the other is outsourcing certain tasks or functions. Sometimes it can feel like an impossible choice – building your own in-house team creates a sense of stability and integration, while using agencies and outside talent can create flexibility and gives you access to expertise you may not be able to afford full time.

However, you don’t necessarily need to choose between the two. Creating a strong in-house team, supplementented with outside talent can give you the best of both worlds. This will allow you to create true flexibility within your organisation. 

By building organisations that can flex and be adaptable, you’re creating a business that can weather the storms of difficult times, but also flourish during periods of relative calm. Having a people strategy that supports both your team and your organisation is key. This is because your people are your most valuable asset in times of difficulty. 

Creating innovative teams

During tough times you will need to rely on your team to come up with creative solutions to difficult problems, and work through uncertainty. Neuroscience shows us that diverse teams are more able to come up with innovative answers to tough questions because they have different ways of seeing the world, different life experiences and so will come up with different solutions.

By building a team that has both in-house and outsourced expertise, you’ll be able to create a diverse group of people. Having part of your outsourced team brings in another level of diversity, an outside view, and different ways of thinking. This is good at all times – it’s great when you’re facing good weather as it’ll help your organisation flourish. But it’s even more important when you’re facing tougher challenges as different perspectives will help open up new opportunities and solutions. 

Safety first

I really want to stress that the flexibility offered here isn’t that it’s easier to save money on people when they’re not direct employees. Instead, I encourage you to think about outsourced support giving you more flexibility in terms of hours, location, creativity and skill set. 

This is because it’s really important to treat your outside providers with the same duty of care as you would your own people. This is the right thing to do – we’ve all been told since we were kids that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. But there’s actually some neuroscience behind it making sense from a business perspective too. 

We know that when people don’t feel safe this stimulates the amygdala, this is a particularly ancient structure in your brain that triggers the “fight or flight” response. The amygdala is an instinctive and greedy part of our brain – it takes a lot of resources from the rest of your response. This means that when people are in “fight or flight” mode, it’s literally impossible for them to think creatively, or come up with rational or innovative solutions. 

In short, if you want your team, whether they’re in-house or outsourced, to give you their best, you need them to trust you to look after them through the good times and the bad. You really don’t want to use legal agreements as an excuse to make bad decisions. 

Integration & collaboration

One more thing to bear in mind when you’re creating your team, whether that be in-house, outsourced or using the best of both worlds, is that you need to facilitate collaboration between everyone. This can be a little more tricky for teams where there is outside and in-house talent, but not impossible! 

Ensure you have collaboration time factored in, so anyone you do have in-house who is working with external talent has time to integrate with them. It’s important to think of your outsourced team members as an extension of your team, not just an expendable resource that you can get rid of if stuff doesn’t happen. 

Outsourcing quite rightly should be just as much of a time and resource commitment as building an in-house team. 

Build a blended team for the right reasons and only do it if you think it will improve your chances of success.

Matt Phelan
Matt Phelan

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