Building a Resilient Culture, Remote

Navigating our way through this pandemic is not too dissimilar to finding your way through a pitch-dark house in wee hours of the night.  Blurry-eyed and uncertain, stretching out your arms in faith hoping not to stub your toe, you follow a familiar path. Like many others, the pandemic forced our teams to a remote work model.  For a company describing themselves as people-centered, where a thriving and connected culture is one of our company’s competitive advantages, this change has been difficult.

These last few months have given us some time to reflect on how well we were prepared for a time like this. We’re constantly learning but these three fundamental approaches to business and people have shaped our ability to weather this storm:

1. Cast a Values-Based Vision

There’s a parable that has been told many times over the years about three bricklayers. It goes like this:

A traveler came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing and the man replied he was laying bricks. He asked the second man the same question and replied he was putting up a wall. When he asked the third man what he was doing the man answered that he was building a cathedral.

I have often considered how each bricklayers values shaped how he viewed his work. If people naturally desire meaningful work and purpose, then the three bricklayers assuredly had a desire for purpose. But only one happened to see his work as part of the bigger vision of building a cathedral.

Ingage was founded ten years ago with a vision that business can and should be a force for good in society. Our value system is centered on the notion that with great power comes great responsibility and that hasn’t changed, even amidst a global pandemic. Although it looks a little different these days, we continue to find ways to give back responsibly.

As leaders,  It’s our job to create the intersection of work and purpose. When you cast this vision with authenticity for your team and align your business decisions to this vision, you and your team will see more than just bricks.

2. Be Intentional

As a management and technology consulting company, a majority of our consultants work in teams at the client site. The nature of our work model and the value we place on being people-centered, demands intentionality to achieve a connected culture.

Pre-Covid, our entire company would come together one day each month for “Ingage Days”. This is a time to get important company updates, but more importantly it is a time to spend with your fellow Ingagers. This is a time to talk shop, volunteer together, learn something new or just have some fun. Ingage Days have looked much different over these last few months, being held via Zoom. However, the team has rallied to come up with unique ways, like virtual scavenger hunts and team-based wellness competitions. Investing in activities that bring people together to strengthen personal relationships among employees is key to achieving a resilient culture. Sometimes that means virtual dance parties…!

3. Be Vulnerable

How would our workplaces be different if we revealed more of our authentic selves? What if we felt safe to talk about our struggles? What would be the impact on the people we work with and lead?  Being vulnerable at work for many organizational cultures may be seen as a sign of weakness, incompetence or unprofessionalism. Our experience with vulnerability has been a sign of trust. When we share our struggles and real self it is a statement of “I trust you with this information.”  It has created a culture of genuine care, empathy and compassion.

These traits have been on full display during these last few months as people have shared mental health struggles, family stressors, fear, and sadness.  It has allowed us to have open conversations with our team about racial inequity, mental health awareness, our political landscape and democracy.

Invite your team to be vulnerable starting with you. By definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. How do you build a resilient culture if you don’t understand or appreciate what your team needs to recover from?

It’s a proven theory for us that people value being together in community, preferably in person but if done right it works virtually as well. Culture matters, your employees matter and building a resilient culture will positively impact your business. It’s not too late to shore up the footers. And if you work hard at it, your team will thank you.