Building Resilience by Shifting Focus and Taking Control

May 27, 2020 Mina Morris

First Published on LinkedIn


Never in our lifetime have we felt a loss of control such as we are experiencing during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Almost overnight, people had to adjust to new work scenarios: work from home, video conferencing, shifting priorities, new ways of working and strenuous shifts. In many cases, these uncertain times have left workers stressed, fatigued, and worried about their future.

Now more than ever, leaders must focus on building resilient teams.

An Anecdote from Space Travel        

Astronaut Scott Kelly holds the record for spending almost a year isolated on a space mission. Over the span of several decades, Kelly completed multiple space missions. 

His story speaks to having the clarity of vision to see the bigger purpose of his work, overcoming obstacles, and mastering an appreciation for time (not to mention working remotely!). 

These are all critical ingredients to building resilience, which can be developed in people over time.

The ABCD Model

In highly charged settings, such as executing space missions and military assignments, resilience is often achieved by gaining perspective. From a psychological standpoint, a good reference point is the ABCD model, which helps individuals form new perspectives on the uncertainty surrounding them.

Some ways leaders can employ this model to help their teams build resilience through uncertainty are:

  • Shift from trying to manage an employee’s behavior to trying to understand the reasons behind the behavior.
  • Invite team members to share their thoughts and feelings behind current events.
  • Encourage open dialogue by being an active and curious listener.

By taking this approach, leaders can help their teams process the situation and their feelings to ultimately form a new perspective.  

Helping Teams Take Control

For an organization to work through the crisis, employees must remain engaged and productive. To that end, leaders must move their teams beyond simply coping with overwhelming circumstances to working persistently and efficiently despite uncertainty. Led by your thoughtful guidance, employees can come to their own informed realizations that they have the skills and mindset to make meaningful contributions to the organization while navigating an uncertain future.

Read my latest paper, What psychology teaches us about managing crisis: A manager’s guide to building resilience, for more helpful tips for leaders managing in times of crisis, including a detailed description of the ABCD model.

About the Author

Mina Morris

Mina Morris is an Associate Partner with Aon’s Assessment Solution Practice. As an organizational psychologist, Mina works with clients to maximize the effectiveness of their talent selection processes, implement talent management systems and helps organizations manage change. Mina has extensive global experience partnering with clients in North America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East to deliver human capital solutions that help deliver business results.

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