The Weaponisation of Resilience

(This post inspired by some posts I saw on LinkedIn, and some client experiences from many many years ago)

Resilience is a useful property.

We want it in many places: In our infrastructure from floods or traffic spikes, in our organisations from attacks by bad faith actors, and within ourselves from unexpected or exceptional events in our lives.

Now, in the last few years *waves hand* we’ve had quite a bit going on, and many of us have had to call on that resilience reserve more than usual.

Maybe as a results of that, or a general awareness of mental health in the workplace, it’s now something that’s being taught to employees.

While I think that is a good thing, I think that has the perception to be weaponised.

A resilient worker, or more likely a team, has the skills/headroom/reserve to cope with a “once in an N” event, every “N”. So a “once in a week” exception every week, a once in a month exception every month, etc.

I worry that bad managers and teams, will weaponise that resilience, and expect teams to be resilient against all events, even if they’re facing a ‘once a year’ event every month.

Exceptions aren’t avoidable. Things do change, go wrong, go better, go worse.

You can’t avoid all exceptions, and those are the ones that will draw on the “resilience reserve”, but if your team is constantly facing exceptions that are caused by poor coordination or planning – you’re wasting that valuable resource you should be keeping for elsewhere.

Giving your team the tools to be resilient is great, but you’re not giving them invincibility.