Resilience: the organisation in tempestuous times


In my first blog post I talked about personal resilience and how individuals can increase their resistance. But what does resilience mean for an entire organisation and which factors strengthen it?

Resilience is an individual’s or an organisation’s resistance to increased internal or external pressure. In our internal resilience programme we address how we deal with pressure and stress so we are not harmed by the ever-increasing burdens. This is important because occasionally the damage can be very great, for individuals and the organisation as a whole. If the organisation does not have the appropriate ability to resist, it can also reduce performance and ultimately lead to a collapse.

If we analyse the Mibelle Group’s situation we find the following:

  • Our business environment is undergoing rapid, radical change. Our customers themselves are under increasing pressure. In Switzerland our main customer, Migros, is battling the German discounters, who are growing ever stronger. Many Swiss consumers are to a large extent purchasing consumer goods across the border. Online retailers, who are often based abroad too, are also becoming increasingly important.
  • Our competitors are keeping us on our toes. Great comprises are made with every tender because there is surplus capacity in Europe. There is furthermore a great pay gap between eastern and southern Europe and Switzerland. Outsourcing labour-intensive jobs to these “cheaper” countries is therefore popular.
  • We have highly innovative competitors who can score points with totally new concepts.
  • New technologies facilitate new business models. If you want to keep pace you have to invest suitably and provide appropriate resources.
  • As a company as a whole we are affected and unsettled by many changes. The battle for resources such as water and oil started long ago and is one reason behind many a war. This causes hunger and fear and forces people to flee. All in all, these changes also place us under stress and pressure.

In our internal resilience workshops we have asked ourselves how we can increase the resistance of the Mibelle Group as a whole and about the role that executives will play. During the discussions it has become clear to us that it depends on both hard and soft factors. Any hard measures, which are classed under “health and safety at work”, increase company health. Improved lighting or better noise protection, for example, reduce stress in the workplace and allow each individual’s energy supply to last longer.

Soft factors, such as respecting each other, recognising good performance and frank and timely communication also strengthen the organisation. The ability to shape one’s job, the feeling of being listened to or of doing something worthwhile, have a great effect on resilience. (There is an excellent, highly recommended book on this subject, Sebastian Purps, entitled “Führen mit Hirn”, available only in German)

The global conditions under which we must work in the next few years remain demanding and challenging, so the subject of resilience remain highly topical. If we support each other, then we will succeed in doing the things that strengthen us and make us successful.