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A New Manager’s Guide to Introducing the 7Cs of Team Resilience

— May 26, 2022

Employees with strong social support networks, and those who feel supported at work, are generally better able to recover from mistakes and failures without getting hindered by disappointment.

One of the most effective ways to build a successful and sustainable organization is to foster resilience. Resilience is the capability to respond to change and challenges in creative and flexible ways. Organizations that maintain their productivity while reducing the emotional strain of adversity on their staff members are better equipped to navigate the many obstacles that businesses face today.

The many challenges posed to businesses over the past few years, including lockdowns, social distancing protocols, and the shift towards remote work, have had notable impacts on both business and individual resilience. This can increase employees’ risk of making mistakes on the job, and of facing burnout, illness, and workplace conflicts. Leaders who cultivate organizational resilience may equip employees with the tools they need to adapt to stress and challenges, ensuring that they’re more prepared for change and less likely to suffer from burnout and ongoing stress.

There are many ways that leaders can help their employees to achieve success and flexible patterns of thinking, despite adversities. A great place to start is by instilling the 7 Cs of resilience within teams. This helps to ensure that they are capable and ready to handle any challenges that come their way.

What is Team Resilience?

‘Team resilience’ refers to the capacity of a team of people to respond to disruption in change with innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. Resilient teams can maintain their high levels of productivity despite adversity while reducing the emotional toll that this adversity takes on each team member individually.

It’s important to bear in mind that a group of people with high levels of individual resilience does not automatically translate into a resilient team. Staff may perform very well on an individual basis, even when handling adversity, and may recover quickly from it too. But they may still battle to respond during a crisis because they are unable to work efficiently as a team. This is why the 7 Cs of team resilience are needed to foster flexibility at both individual and group levels.

The 7 Cs of Team Resilience

1. Culture

The most resilient businesses and teams share important core values, histories, identities, and purposes that unite them towards a common goal. Members of resilient teams share stories with one another that help to describe their identities and values, and are open to the cultures, perspectives and experiences of others who do not share their own views. 

This in turn helps to answer the question of who the team is together, and how each individual’s culture and identity can strengthen and enhance the whole.

2. Competence

Flexible and resilient employees have both the skills and capacity required to meet organizational demands. Especially during times of adversity or crisis. 

They also have the expertise and abilities they need to achieve ongoing success, and can share their competence with other members of the team to boost the entire team’s productivity and resilience.

3. Connections

Team resilience’s core philosophy is about being stronger together. Resilient staff members know each other well and have formed strong working relationships with one another. They treat each other as unique individuals rather than titles or positions within the company.

4. Commitment

Resilient employees show commitment and dedication towards each other, and to a mission that the entire team shares. They show each other loyalty, diplomacy and respect, and offer something of value to support their fellow teammates when it’s needed. 

They also keep their pledges and promises to protect their colleagues from harm, even when it’s challenging to do so.

5. Communication

Resilient team members have excellent communication skills. They feel adequately informed about what is happening within their workplaces and are eager to share this information with others. 

They also appreciate and encourage different perspectives, dialogues, questions, and critical thinking for the good of the team and the organization at large.

6. Coordination

Teams that adhere to the 7 Cs of resilience are united and synchronized across the business. Their goals clearly align with those of their organizations. 

Members of these teams can work through conflict in a proactive way to ensure that they’re working in synergy with one another. This also ensures that conflicts and misunderstandings are minimized wherever possible.

7. Consideration

Resilient staff members are capable of supporting their coworkers’ personal needs and career goals. They are considerate and respectful of their colleagues at all times, even during disagreements. They are grateful and appreciative of the efforts and perspectives of others.

Understanding the Components of Resilience

Resilience has a wide range of definitions across industries and sectors. Within the context of psychology and the workplace, there is no single definitive set of components of resilience. Although the 7 Cs provide a strong framework in this regard. However, resilience has a certain set of core characteristics and factors that can help you to understand the concept and how it relates to your organization.

According to Positive Psychology, the key factors of resilience include:

  • Altruism. Resilient team members are always ready to help their coworkers when they need to overcome periods of adversity and improve their productivity and efficacy in the workplace.
  • Optimism. Those who are resilient are naturally more optimistic, even when facing challenges. They are capable of inspiring their fellow coworkers to remain positive in the face of adversity, while providing valuable support to those who are struggling to cope.
  • Morality. Workers with a strong moral code may find it easier to remain resilient in the face of organizational or team issues. They are better equipped to handle conflicts and differing points of view in a respectful way.
  • Humor. Team members who have healthy senses of humor are able to tackle misfortune with a positive attitude and see the silver lining in any situation. They bring unique perspectives to the table that create a healthy company culture and foster ongoing workplace resilience.
  • Social support. Employees with strong social support networks, and those who feel supported at work, are generally better able to recover from mistakes and failures without getting hindered by disappointment. Resilient team members need to have the skills to provide social support to one another to ensure that everyone can maintain their composure and productivity during times of stress.
  • Training. Resilience is a naturally occurring quality for some, but others may need training in order to maximize their own abilities to display resilience at work. As a manager, it’s essential to introduce the 7 Cs of resilience to your team to ensure that they have the training and knowledge needed to apply these concepts during team projects.

The Circle of Resilience

According to Dr Stephen Covey, employees often devote around 80% of their time and energy towards the 20% of matters over which they have little to no control. This is not an efficient way to work. Plus, it can have the side effect of reducing overall resilience.

Man sitting at desk with hands clasped behind his head; image by Jason Strull, via
Image by Jason Strull, via

Dr Covey and other experts recommend that managers learn to separate the matters over which they have full or partial control from those over which they have little to no control. Once you have mastered this approach, you can assist your teams to do the same. At the same time, you can ensure they apply the 7 Cs of resilience to foster more flexible mindsets and working habits.

It’s also essential to learn how to identify the key causes of stress and adversity within your team. Managers need to be able to step back and look at the bigger picture, understanding how sources of stress and other challenges affect group dynamics and how these issues can get addressed for best results. Doing so can help you to spot challenges as they occur, and help your teams to develop strategies, techniques and tools to manage stress and foster resilience, regardless of each individual’s role in the larger team structure.

Ultimately, as a leader, one of your goals is to create a resilient working environment that stems from the resilience of each member of your team. You are not solely responsible for building this individual resilience. Every team member needs to play their part in creating more resilient habits and approaches. However, as a new manager, you are tasked with creating the sort of work environment that enables your team to build lasting resilience.

The best way to go about this is to build a plan for creating a resilient work environment based on the guiding principles of building team resilience; the 7 Cs. This plan should be an ongoing work in progress that guides you as you establish the right culture for your team. It will also evolve as you foster further skills and approaches to improve stress resilience and put in place the frameworks that will allow your organization to meet its key goals over time.

Final Thoughts

Resilient teams have the tools and mindsets needed to support their colleagues’ personal needs and their organizations’ ultimate goals, even while under pressure. They are respectful and appreciative of one another’s perspectives and contributions, and are able to navigate challenges with optimism and innovation. 

Use the 7 Cs of team resilience to build a plan that equips your employees with everything they need for ongoing success, come rain or shine.

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