Growth in a time of Adversity? – Part 1

‘Same storm, different boats’ seems to be the metaphor of the moment. Storms are violent, unpredictable and threatening. Our primary focus on surviving the storm in the boat we find ourselves in may lead us to think that this isn’t the ideal time for learning and growth. Yet, to survive the storm may mean letting go of what we know as we adapt, learn and make new things happen. 
In this series of three articles we want to encourage you to turn your attention away from the here and now struggles, to reflect on the journey you and your organisations have been on since the Covid-19 crisis broke. 
Often, times of adversity bring with them unexpected opportunities for growth. In the natural world, forest fires are destructive but also fertilize and nourish the earth, preparing the ground for future lush vegetation. We see it in the personal journeys of eminent artists and writers whose greatest works are conceived during periods of extreme hardships, disruption and personal suffering. The famous Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky was a case in point. Reflecting on his long and hard years in a prison camp in Siberia, where he was unfairly exiled for a time, he was able to write:

“Times of crisis, of disruption or constructive change, are not only predictable but desirable. 
They mean growth”. 

This is the hope we need to grasp. It might be too early to assess the true impact of Covid-19 at a personal level. However, people are already noticing some major shifts in working practices within their organisations which seem to be yielding benefits. We have also observed a desire within the business community to come through this crisis with a “better normal” rather than just a “new normal”. 

Reflecting on what has worked and not worked during this time and consciously building on what has been beneficial will be the key to future growth. In conversation with our clients we have found some really positive developments are emerging. Here are some of their reflections:

Removal of barriers to effective working

“For years, collaboration between our two sister companies has been hampered by their two different financial year ends. In the face of Covid-19, the seemingly insurmountable barriers to synchronising year ends were removed very quickly. This has enabled better collaboration and an ability to plan and organise work in a synchronised way”.
(Head of a Joint Unit servicing the two sister companies) 

Closer and more cohesive team

“Our team has become closer as a result of Covid-19. We are checking in with each other on a regular basis and we are far more aware about each other’s challenges during this difficult time. We have come to know each other’s houses, pets and children and, in our conversations, we have gone deeper. The quality of conversation is far less superficial. Trust levels within the team have risen and going forward this will mean a more united Board”.
(Trustee of a Charity Board)

Appreciation of home and flexible working

“Prior to Covid-19 working from home and flexible working was not something our company promoted. In fact, I’d say it was discouraged. When we went into lockdown we were all surprised how quickly everything moved on-line and how smoothly the transition to home and flexible working happened. Going forward our senior leadership team has now embraced working from home and flexible working, and it will be something we will offer to people post this crisis”. 
(HR Manager in Tech sector)

The wellbeing of people becomes #1 priority

“Our business has tried to invest in the wellbeing of our people, but we have always had to work hard to make the business case for it over other spending. The past two months has completely changed the landscape for good. Our Executive Team immediately and rightly made the health and wellbeing of our people the top priority and it’s going to remain a core part of who we are as an organisation going forward”.
(HR Director)

At Mightywaters we have found that the crisis has directed us back to our core purpose, which is to serve the world of work. This refocussing on our purpose has given us new impetus to explore and learn new ways of communicating with our clients and to develop new areas of engagement. We are expanding what we do in the area of Board evaluation and we are learning to build on our track record as ace facilitators in creating energising and impactful virtual workshops. And there will be more to come! 
This is not to diminish the challenges this disruption has brought. It is to highlight that out of adversity the seeds of growth – personal and organisational – are sown. Take a minute to reflect on two questions:

  • What beneficial shifts have you recognised as a result of the Covid-19 disruption? 
  • What learning do you think your organisation will take from this experience that will create a better normal? 

As we start to move into a new phase, it’s important to bring people together to reflect on what’s happened and to capture and embed learning from this time. We are already doing this with clients and if you would like to run a facilitated session with your colleagues, get in touch.

Thanks for reading this. Could we ask you for one favour? We’d like to serve the world of work better, so could you email us what your top people and organisational challenges are and how we could better support you? 
We hope you find this helpful. Please let us know what you think of this article. If you found it helpful, please share it with colleagues and others in your network.