UnleashWD: Why You Should Foster Resiliency In Time of Crises, And How To Do It

BY Tim Fisher
3/30/2020 - COVID-19

In an effort to continue to try and provide our members with resources that are easy to consume, and relevant to their own businesses, we are taking some information that has been developed and trying to “pare it down” as much as possible so you can easily find the identified portions that are most beneficial.

One resource that has been created in the wake of the COVID-19 virus is a video series developed by Dirk Beveridge from UnleashWD.  In this particular video, “Why You Should Foster Resiliency In Time of Crises, And How To Do It”, Dirk interviews Margaret Rogers, VP Customer Experience Strategist at Pariveda Solutions.

We have taken some time to pull some of the highlights and identify some important items that were covered, and then time stamp the video for easy access to everything that was covered in the video.


During a crisis, whether it’s large or small, companies generally behave the same way as people: they freeze. When a person is confronted by something frightening or especially consequential, there is generally a lag between the start of the event and the person’s response as their brain tries to quickly process a plan. Companies freeze because their collective brainpower struggles to formulate a response as the crisis brings higher stakes and numerous, quickly evolving variables. Unfortunately, while the choices become harder and the gravity of individual decisions are greater, inaction can be just a dangerous as rash decision making. Inaction serves to increase employee anxiety as people begin wondering how bad a crisis might become. Rising employee anxiety creates additional pressure for leadership to act, which often results in uncoordinated, ineffective moves. Businesses with a strong culture of trust and common understanding are far more likely to perform better in a crisis, and they are better equipped to navigate the difficult balance between inaction and rash decision making.

Businesses that lack a culture of trust and common understanding, fortunately, can effectively navigate the challenges created by crisis if their leaders are sharp and swift with their focus. Effective leadership in such a scenario requires an understanding that not every problem can be solved, as well as the quick prioritization of company goals. Strong communication is vitally important to the prioritization of company goals, as employees, vendors, and customers all need to be briefed on the new objectives for a company to effectively execute its plan. Effective leaders must also have a clear definition of success, as the reprioritization of a company’s goals likely means the creation of new outcomes.

Alongside the reprioritization of a company’s goals, the de-prioritization of certain initiatives is incredibly important to a company’s success in handling a crisis. Leaders often forget about the human element in business and that people may be overwhelmed by a heightened emotional risk. Helping to alleviate the cognitive load of employees through the de-prioritization of initiatives, as well as by communicating authentically with their employees, can help leaders get the most out of their teams during difficult times.

One significant roadblock that may arise for businesses in times of crisis is employee skepticism of leadership’s plans. Employee skepticism undermines a leader’s ability to focus their team on a collective goal, and leaders must take steps to ensure that any skeptical employees understand that openly questioning a leader’s decisions can be very damaging. By acknowledging an employee’s skepticism and maintaining an open dialogue with their team, leaders are often able to bring rogue employees back inline.

Video Timestamps:

7:50 – Conversation begins

10:48 – During a crisis, what behaviors have you seen that are often exhibited by companies?

11:56 – How do you feel about the fact that companies are slow to respond, especially during this current unique time?

13:14 – Whatever place we’re in, the uncoordinated moves can really hurt a potential outcome. If you were to coach us on how to create coordinated moves versus a hodgepodge of reactive moves, what would you recommend?

14:56 – And that sharp focus into the goals, can you share with us how we as leaders should be driving that sharp focus? You mentioned communication, but how should we be driving that focus throughout a distributed organization?

16:11 – The de-prioritization of initiatives appears to be critical. Would you agree?

17:05 – In times of crisis we often forget the importance of a collective focus, as well as the importance of setting goals. What are your thoughts on that statement?

18:19 – Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott, recently delivered a really powerful, authentic message to his employees. Can you talk a bit about the need for human connection and the leaders responsibility to ensure human connection during these times?

20:21 – How should leaders start the conversations the dive into personal matters, and forge human connection? What methods are effective?

22:55 – How do you keep employees that are skeptical of a leader’s plan on message?

25:44 – We’ve talked about our role right now, are there any other things in your mind that can seriously get in the way and hinder our ability to drive resiliency and commitment during these tough times?

27:21 – Discussion on ways to leverage this current crisis to drive lasting, positive workplace changes.

28:41 – What is creative courage?

29:34 – Any thoughts about what happens after the crisis, and investing in resilience?

About UnleasedWD's video series

At UnleashWD our purpose is to unleash the human spirit.  And during this unprecedented time we felt compelled to support the UnleashWD tribe and our association partners with the right mix of inspiration and timely, relevant information.  We reached out to our network of wickedly smart subject matter experts to provide the sessions below.  In the words of one attendee - “This was amazing.  You’ve changed our day tomorrow.  We’ll be on the attack!”

We are a design, innovation, and strategy firm who transforms legacy distributors into nimble and innovative market leaders.  What you are about to experience is designed to unleash your spirit so like the individual above decided, you too will be on the attack!

We are here to support you through these next few months and beyond.  If we can do anything for you please reach out directly to either of us.

Dirk Beveridge                      Bethany Hepler
Founder                                VP of Design
dirk@unleashwd.com           bethany@unleashwd.com