For every agency, the best time to bulk up resilience is before calamity strikes. Even when that is not possible, constituents often depend on the products and services they receive from their governments. Services like unemployment benefits can save lives, so there is scant time to waste while providing them.
The good news is there are many small but significant steps agencies can take to make their people, processes and technology tougher.
Here are eight tips for making agencies more resilient, inspired by the federal, state and local thought leaders featured throughout GovLoop’s recent guide, “Bouncing Back: How Your Agency Can Handle Disruption and Embrace Resilience.”
1. Expect stress
Agencies may crave resilience, but that does not mean they enjoy the conditions that make resilience necessary. Like it or not, turmoil is a given no matter agencies’ size or scope.
Anticipating anxiety, then, eases the hardships agencies encounter while dealing with it. While covering bases is important, no agency can get them all. Because of this, government employees should prepare for every shock they can and take deep, steady breaths for every shock they cannot. The chances are that expecting pressure will help agencies survive it more confidently.
2. Remain optimistic
Public sector employees are not immune to negativity. After a while, any workforce can be discouraged by adversity, failure and disappointment.
For leaders, this means carefully monitoring their agency’s collective mood and promoting positive messages to keep employees focused on their mission. For workers, maintaining a glass-half-full mentality and networking with peers who support them can keep spirits high. And no matter where they rank, every employee should remember resilience begins with hope.
3. Regroup quickly
Resilience is like basketball – games are won and lost by the team that rebounds the best. Amid chaos, the faster agencies can resume their routines, the faster they can reconnect with constituents.
Envision agencies like engines – the most resilient ones run no matter what gets under the hood. To get on the right foot, resilient agencies map how they behave under ideal parameters. Next, these agencies plot how quickly they can regain these abilities after they come under fire. Most of all, such governments design alternatives for when their original plans do not work.
4. Emphasize education
Employees contributing to their agency’s resilience should consider the many options available to them. Whether it is coaching, mentoring or learning courses, workers have many avenues for nurturing personal resilience.
First, critical-thinking classes can teach employees procedures for making better decisions. Some courses also boost awareness of potential trouble spots, while others discuss resilience through teamwork.
Coaching, meanwhile, can personalize resilience for participants. The problem-solving approaches many instructors provide can benefit agencies down the road.
5. Exercise resilience
Like muscles, resilience will weaken if it is not flexed regularly.
Playing out worst-case scenarios, then, can be advantageous for agencies. These exercises let agencies approach real crises in safe settings; the same training can also heighten internal morale before setbacks occur.
Drawing from expertise about threats like ransomware, agencies can walk through how to respond during security incidents without truly suffering one. Rather than leaving people untested, courses like these prepare them.
6. Plot a way out
Without exits, agencies may find themselves stuck with the disturbances assailing them. Afflicted by something like a snowstorm, no agency wants to remain on the sidelines, away from citizens.
To that end, agencies should consider failure a necessary evil. They should not expect one person, process or technology to save them heartache. No solution works if it cannot deal with the problem.
Generally, the agencies that rely too heavily on one answer to disruption may find themselves surprised by different questions. Conversely, broad toolkits can ensure agencies bring the right solution to respond.
7. Foster friendships
Agencies do not need to go it alone. No matter their size, agencies can count on their peers when the road gets rocky. If that does not work, there are many private sector businesses, academic institutions and nonprofits willing to lend a hand.
What can allies provide agencies? From data to expertise, funding to human capital, agencies do not know if they do not ask. The icing on the cake? Organizations propping one another up serves the greater good and makes society more resilient overall.
8. Play the long game
Patience is a virtue, and nowhere does this maxim ring truer than resilience. Recognizing this, agencies should commit themselves to resilience long-term. By continuously pursuing resilience, agencies can protect their operations, products and services better. As a bonus, the public can rest easy knowing their governments are ready for everything on the horizon.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Bouncing Back: How Your Agency Can Handle Disruption and Embrace Resilience.” Download the full guide here.