No Man Left Behind: How to Build, Run & Retain a Resilient Team

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Resiliency is the ability to withstand adversity; the hardships one cannot prevent. The ability to endure stress, troubles, and turbulences, and survive with minimum or no consequences; no men lost in the battle. 

The turn of the decade brought on a ton of uncertainty for the IT industry. 

Early 2020 was marked by quiet quitting, as employees started losing the drive and enthusiasm, putting no more time and effort into their work than absolutely necessary. The buzzword circled social media, announcing the workers’ dissatisfaction with their current employment. 

And somehow, at the same time, tech companies heavily focused on expansion across various sectors. With consumer needs changing, the tech industry started working on new solutions to meet growing demands. New departments were established, and the existing teams were scaled to handle the growing workload.

Then the tides turned in early 2022 when the tech leaders realized their predictions were wrong and were forced to lay off the excess workforce they took on during the pandemic. According to the, around 500 companies laid off almost 140,000 workers just in the first quarter of 2023. 

Uncertainty is in the air, and the pressure is on for companies to build and retain stable teams capable of adjusting to the ever-changing business ecosystem. 

The question on everyone’s mind is: how do you build a resilient team?

What is a resilient team and how to build one?

A resilient team can efficiently bounce back from challenges and quickly adapt to new ways of working while maintaining high productivity levels.  

In a nutshell, a resilient team is built on:

  • honesty and open communication
  • empathy and compassion in times of both failure and success
  • modesty and willingness to ask for help 
  • resourcefulness and ability to cope with unpredictable challenges
People giving each other high five

To constitute a resilient team, all team members must possess certain self-awareness and empathy levels. However, these qualities don’t necessarily come naturally to everyone. This is where leadership skills come into play and help evaluate the team's state, identify weak spots, and discover the best strategies to resolve them. 

This may include: 

  • objective assessment of the team’s dynamic and issues,
  • trust and engagement, encouragement to share vulnerabilities, and creative inputs,
  • freedom to express fears, concerns, and any other feelings about existing challenges, even if they are frustrations, and
  • peer-to-peer support and commitment to building each other’s resilience.

But these things don’t just come naturally to everyone. To build a resilient team, you need the right mix of people and a leader to offer guidance in times of uncertainty. 

Make smart hiring and onboarding decisions

Look for people who are not just ‘qualified for the job’ but are also a good cultural fit. Such candidates are more likely to gain an understanding of your company’s values and transfer them to other (new) team members. 

“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is a success.”
– Henry Ford

Build strong leadership 

Resilience is a learnable skill; you just need a good mentor, a leader who understands what constitutes resilience and helps their team members develop the skills and mindset necessary to anticipate change and come up with solutions to cope with the challenges. 

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things.
He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
– President Ronald Reagan

The initial phases require a leader who can handle hiring, team development, sourcing, and expansion management. Their leadership skills should evolve to adjust to any internal or external changes. They will be influenced by the shifts within the company, long- and short-term goals, as well as the industry as a whole. Over time, tech leaders are expected to acquire:

  • Presentation skills that enable streamlined communication with their team members. They need to know how to present ideas, arguments, and plans of action that will help others competently execute their tasks. 
  • Conflict resolution skills to successfully mediate any disputes among team members and between different teams within the organization. 
  • Interpersonal skills to establish strong relationships with senior and junior colleagues, as well as external partners. Great leaders know how to strike a balance between providing directions and encouraging autonomy, as individual input can often lead to better ideas. 
  • Mentorship skills and ability to provide technical support. Team leaders should be available to discuss technical problems and figure out ways to solve them together. This also allows them to evaluate team members' strengths and weaknesses and make individual development plans accordingly.

Ultimately, great leaders must be involved in the organization’s activities, perform key actions, and inspire and drive the entire team’s productivity.         

So you finally have a functional team - now what?

Successful scaling (up or down) requires careful planning to ensure the expectations are met without affecting company culture, employee satisfaction, quality of performance, and productivity. This can only be done on a solid, resilient foundation. 

What makes us experts on the subject? 

Inviggo was born in the midst of the pandemic. Building to achieve resilience is all we ever knew. We’ve experienced its positive effect on engagement, performance, and individual well-being firsthand.

From the start, our philosophy revolved around looking at the ‘bigger picture’ and thinking about what is communicated to the team as a whole and to individual employees. 

What are the perks prerequisites?

Each member of your team should receive:

  • Technical and engineering support 

Create a work environment suitable for the productive exchange of knowledge and skills by ensuring all interns and junior colleagues get mentorship from more experienced, senior teammates. 

This is especially important in outsourcing companies, where in-house colleagues work on multiple projects, and the management team is on the client side (remote). In such cases, an outsourced engineer requires an experienced person inside the outsourcing company who will be familiar with their engagements. 

How did we solve this at Inviggo? We established regular checkups and 1:1 progress meetings to discuss an individual’s overall performance, growth trajectory, and aspirations. This is an excellent opportunity for the employer and employee to pinpoint potential improvement spots and define career steps for the upcoming period. 

Bear in mind that these 1:1s should be both brainstorming sessions and a place where you can connect on a personal level to build long-term relationships. This means the meetings should not be strictly ‘professional’, but also of personal nature, where your people will have an opportunity to talk about themselves a bit more, not just the work they are involved in. 

  • Career growth plan (beyond current project) 

Provide your employees with opportunities for career growth. Again, they’ll need a mentor, a budget for skill development, and the tools necessary to achieve specific goals. For task-focused personalities, ensure enough learning opportunities and time for brainstorming.

By developing a learning culture, you’re also building a team of people who are eager to experiment. As such, they become avid risk-takers and higher performers, even in times of great uncertainty. 

This is where outsourcing companies are at an advantage since they are engaged in multiple projects and can assign people based on their career goals. 

At Inviggo, we take into account each person’s affinities and preferences and then allow people to choose the projects they want to participate in, whenever possible. This approach adds significant value to employees’ unique perspectives and supports their creativity. 

  • Opportunity to build communication and other soft skills

Stress and the potential for conflict arise with new challenges. But if individuals are equipped with communication skills, the chances of resolution without detrimental consequences are higher. 

We regularly organize both tech and soft skill workshops, aligned with the rapidly evolving work environment. These in-house knowledge-sharing sessions enable people to practice their presentation skills, bring up useful discussions, and enrich their knowledge.

For the team as a whole, build a work environment that promotes:

  • Trust

Once you realize the tough times are ahead, share what’s going on with the team, even if you don’t have all the answers right away. When employees are left in the dark, their imagination wonders and creates scenarios, often worse than the one you are actually going through. By sharing the information you have, you get them to play on your team and possibly share practical ideas on how to weather the storm. 

Familiarize everyone with the company’s long-term goals and strategic vision. Clarify their role in this ‘bigger picture’ to explain how their contribution helps achieve the set goals.  

As a result, you establish stronger relationships, connections, and resilience, in individuals and as a group. 

  • Flexibility

While efficient teams are often used to working within well-defined, proven frameworks, resilient ones require a certain level of flexibility to withstand temporary turmoils. You need to leave some wiggle room because working outside familiar frameworks and making decisions on the fly is crucial in times of change. The team should be able to access existing knowledge and creatively reconfigure it to develop new and novel ideas.

  • Psychological safety

Teams with high levels of psychological safety rebound from challenges faster and more effectively. Supporting team members to speak up with suggestions and objections without feeling shy or intimidated reduces negative responses and encourages creativity and adaptability within a group.

So learn to listen and show understanding of the issues your people are struggling with. Many simply brush off employees’ feelings in challenging situations when they need compassion and respect. Providing them with a safe place to talk about their concerns and ask tough questions helps build a resilient mindset. It is critical to acknowledge problems and not just shut them down. Create space for ‘productive venting’ as it will gradually become a ‘problem-solving’ environment. Reducing negative responses allows them to flourish and inspire creativity that will deliver unique and effective solutions. 

If you can’t afford to build a team from scratch - outsource!

Hiring and retaining developers is the #1 challenge in software development, and it is no wonder more and more companies are seeking the right outsourcing partner. The costs are lower, scaling is smoother, and the team is specialized. 

And this is where we fit in :)

Featured Photo by fauxels