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What do  resilient companies do in a crisis?

What do resilient companies do in a crisis?

Crises follow one another and each is different. The ones we are currently undergoing are all the more complex for combining armed conflicts with economic, societal and sanitary disruptions. The time has come to take a closer look at McKinsey’s retrospective analysis of the crisis of 2007.

Approximately 10% of the 1,100 companies studied across 12 business sectors proved to be particularly resilient: they not only withstood the crisis, but also prospered in the process.

What did they do to achieve this feat? Most of them very quickly gave themselves the means to be flexible. At the first signs of the crisis, they strengthened their balance sheets by withdrawing from underperforming activities and reducing their debts. This gave them the means to ride out the crisis while maintaining a sustainable financial situation, then to seize the opportunities offered by the market rebound. They also focused on the reduction of their production costs, while maintaining their expenses relating to sales and administrative support. Operational flexibility played an important role, with the renegotiation of more flexible contracts and the expansion of supply sources.

In a context of crisis, investing in flexibility seems to always be a good first move to facilitate the resilience of one's organization.

Source: Bubbles pop, downturns stop, Martin Hirt, Kevin Laczkowski, Mihir Mysore, McKinsey Quarterly, May 2019.

Learning  and cooperating: two skills at the heart of sustainable development

Learning and cooperating: two skills at the heart of sustainable development

Nowadays, the urgency of the ecological transition is on everyone’s agenda. And yet, its implementation comes up against mentalities that have not yet changed much. The CEO of the BASF chemical group, Martin Brudermüller, provides a good summary of the current situation: “People like to keep repeating what they know how to do and what has proven to work. That’s what makes it so difficult to accelerate the pace.”

Bain surveyed nearly 5,000 people in nine different economic sectors: although two-thirds of respondents consider that they will need to develop new competencies, less than half of non-managers are offered the possibility of developing these new competencies… A subject that needs urgent attention!

The reality is that we do not yet know precisely which technical skills will be necessary. We will have to innovate, to proceed by trial-and-error. Bain’s partners underline that the key lies in a change of attitude in order to spread a “growth mindset”. Considering that we can and must constantly develop ourselves, opening our minds to change, learning from others and, ultimately, learning to learn: this is what will make the difference in meeting the challenges of the ecological transition.

Source: A Talent Strategy for Sustainability: Skills Matter, but Mindset Is Everything, Sarah Elk, Julie Coffman, Tracy Thurkow, John Hazan, Bain & Company, November 2023.

How can you  demonstrate empathy without exhausting yourself?

How can you demonstrate empathy without exhausting yourself?

Today, every manager needs to show empathy towards their team members. In a complex and uncertain world, attentive listening and solicitude are indispensable for reducing the stress of teams and facilitating their commitment. But at what cost?

A 2022 study by the Future Forum shows a significantly higher rate of burn-out among middle managers than among all other categories of workers. Another study shows that teenagers whose parents are empathetic are less prone to depression than others, but that these same parents suffer from greater cellular aging! An excess of empathy can thus be detrimental to one's health.

Should we harden ourselves and return to a more distant management style? The challenge is rather to set limits in order to cope over the long term:

– Have as much empathy for yourself as for others: you will only be able to help them if you yourself are hanging in there!

– Nuance your empathy: concern yourself with others, but do not take on their feelings to avoid an overload of negative emotions.

– View empathy as a skill, rather than as a trait of your personality: you will more easily be able to choose whether to activate it or not according to the situation.

Source: How to Sustain Your Empathy in Difficult Times, Jamil Zaki, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2024.

Assessing your demographic pyramid

Assessing your demographic pyramid

An OECD study highlights the growing proportion of older workers within companies. With the aging of the world’s population, this trend will continue to strengthen: for example, France’s share of the workforce over the age of 55 is estimated at 23% in 2031. Yet many companies have no specific approach to preparing for this evolution of the job market. Take a look at your organization:

- What are you doing to retain, or even rehire older employees? Mitsubishi Corporation created a career center dedicated exclusively to employees aged 60 and over, which includes a job marketplace and personalized advice.

- Are your training programs adapted? In 2021, Atos launched a program to fill the skills gaps of its 21,000 employees over the age of 50. The people concerned have set themselves development objectives and have selected the most beneficial training courses and certifications for their progression.

- Do you open the door to forms of work that reflect the specific expectations and skills of older workers? BMW’s Senior Experts program allows retirees to return to the company on a part-time basis in order to share their expertise with younger employees. This helps both the organization to meet the need for flexibility and these senior experts to perform less physically demanding tasks, while at the same time enhancing their skills.

Source: Better with Age: The Rising Importance of Older Workers, James Root, Andrew Schwedel, Mike Haslett Nicole Bitler, Bain & Company, July 2023.

Avoiding polarization during delicate conversations

Avoiding polarization during delicate conversations

According to a Pew Research Center study of 10,000 American adults, our societies are increasingly polarized. In particular, we are less likely to make concessions in our exchanges, and our ability to listen to our interlocutors has deteriorated. This trend is also affecting professional discussions, with negative repercussions on collaboration, creativity and performance. Here are a few tips to bring an unproductive discussion out of a dead end:

- Approach every conversation by making the bet that you are going to learn something. You will thus put yourself in a propitious frame of mind to enrich the exchange, beyond the affirmation of your own point of view.

- Be fully present. When our attention is split between listening and our own thoughts, we have a greater tendency to overreact to certain words that appear to confirm our preconceptions.

- Listen with the intention of understanding, without immediately preparing your response. Ask open questions to better understand the way in which your interlocutor sees the situation, and be prepared to be surprised by their point of view.

Source:  10 ways to have a better conversation, Celeste Headlee, TEDxCreativeCoast, May 2015.

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