Customer locus of our business ecosystem has gone through a tremendous change over a decade. It is evident from the list viz. depleting list of loyal customers, rise in demanding customers who ask more for a buck and expectation of gaining differentiation. More… Thought leadership as a prerequisite for sustained relationship. Ardent initiatives for enhanced customer and end user experience. These are some key issues that customer-facing executives confront today. I hope you agree. What we may often need to sensitize ourselves is even our customer’s customer-facing executive meet the same challenge. This forms a volatile, imminent-vicious spiral unless we develop and exhibit resilience as individuals and organization. “Bending and not breaking”, “allostasis” and “Active resistance” are some common phrases attributed to resilience.
As widely defined, “Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.” One acquires this developmental psychological strength through incessant learning to bounce back from situation that pulls them down. Confucius aptly said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” This creates a resilience-thrust in customer dealings.
Our curious minds yearn for answers to some questions. What mettle makes resilient people and any myths? Are there tacit and/ or implied barriers that prevents one to be resilient? Where do I stand? How one can develop resilience, and with organizational intervention? Choice is question of options. Absence of resilience may drive the victim to behave harmful, making them scornful and even psychologically unhealthy. Presence of resilience propels customer relationships. Absence of it can imperil customer connect. Organizations need to assess its resilience and those of employees.
Few vibes are not difficult to sense in an organizational survey; 55%-75% people may express that dealing with difficult people at work, rigid processes or policies and office politics suck their resilience. Further mining may reveal that not many view that organization supports in building their resilience, which may infer that nearly all people rely on self-help. This requires great focus for organization in customer relationship parlance. Employees are investing more time here instead of nurturing customer relationships.
Besides being positive, open, communicative, enthusiastic, learning-hungry and flexible, resilient employees gain customer’s mind-space having following disposition:
- Emotional Intelligence: They manage emotions well having ability to express and control emotions. Conversely, they comprehend, interpret, and respond to others’ emotions. This improves effectiveness of requirements gathering.
- Locus of Control: They possess attitude to control their own destiny by augmenting internal strengths and control stress. They defy fate-centric thinking. Self-confident associate is what an organization can offer as a gift to its customer.
- Opportunity-mindset: It goes by Churchill’s quote, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." Such employees make customers success being partners in difficulty.
- Solution-orientation: One raises in crisis. Having wide-angled view and holistic-outlook, these composed individuals evolve or seek solutions. Customers honor solution providers.
Many established sites offer online self-assessment to measure one’s resilience. It helps one to lay out a scaling-up plan (Example: www.verywell.com).
Let us look at few self-help methods and organizational initiatives to enhance resilient employees:
- Hone problem-solving skills: Attend organizational training or learn online. Practice problem solving. Build a repository of cases/ case-lets/ scenarios from possible sources and gain deeper insights. “It may sound strange, but many champions are made champions by setbacks”, said Bob Richards. Such employees make a heavy-duty bridge between customer and organization.
- Be SMART: Learn and practice setting and pursuing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) self-goals. Customers appreciate achievement orientation.
- Learn to embrace change: Change must create a positive stress in people to avoid or mitigate toxic stress by virtue of internal strength. One must develop mindset to recognize the imminence of change and sharpen versatility to adopt. As the Japanese proverb goes, “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” Being transformational, versatile employees walk an extra mile for their customers.
- Develop communication skills: Be passionate social networker. Associate with people with positive energy. A climate of enthusiasm and authenticity can influence you to adopt it. Such associates radiate positivity in customer’s universe. HR can play a catalyst role in promoting social networking among employees.
Resilient employees help organizations to resolve respites in relationships. Customers reward organizations when organizations recognize the need for resilient employees.
An organization may annex resilience to the competency inventory/ dictionary as part of performance management. An appropriate assessment framework can help in gauging the organization’s resilience.
A movie, The Karate Kid (2010), has some depicting and hard-hitting scenes that reaffirm resilience:
Mr. Han: Just tell me, Xiao Dre, why? Why do you need to go back out there so badly?
Dre Parker: Because I’m still scared. And no matter what happens, tonight, when I leave, I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Mr Han: You have taught me very important lesson, Xiao Dre. Life will knock us down, but we can choose whether or not to stand back up.
When satisfied with resilient associates, customer may resonate what Alan K. Simpson said, “He's a million rubber bands in his resilience.”
(Disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article are mine and my employer does not subscribe to the substance or veracity of my views.”)