Written by Susan J. Ashford, Maxim Sytch and Lindred L. Greer
Disruptive, stressful experiences are often opportunities for growth. Research has shown that crises can help lift the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra that pervades many organizations, creating new opportunities for people to voice their ideas on how to do things better.
For example, when the pandemic forced an insurance company we advise to go fully remote, the challenge of remote work prompted several teams to explore better ways of tracking progress. Field employees proposed new metrics for tracking sales contacts with customers, as well as new ways to integrate these metrics with existing key performance indicators on the Salesforce platform. Leadership liked the new system so much that it’s now being scaled nationally.
Similarly, basketball and hockey teams often show improved performance after losing teammates to injury, because the remaining teammates are able to discover new ways of working together. As teams are forced to take on new challenges, face new uncertainties, and recover from mistakes in the Covid-19 era, they begin to internalize that both their own abilities and those of their peers are not fixed, but rather can be developed.
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