Stack these five building blocks to create a resilient organisational culture

27 January 2021

Throughout an organisation’s lifetime there are many instances that usher in change for a season or two - whether change is external and uncontrollable or internal and planned.

Let’s face it – our world is evolving. Uncertainty co-exists with ground-breaking technological advances. During these times, it has been the assimilation of a resilient culture that has kept organisations at the top of their change management game.

A vision for the future, and a great strategy or even a highly competent leadership team at the helm, might simply not be enough on its own to effectively navigate change. We believe that when organisations implement these resilience building blocks, teams are able to adapt a resilient, pro-change culture during 2021 and beyond as opposed to a reactive, anti-change culture.

Building blocks for a resilient organisational culture

Building Block

Resilient and pro-change culture

Reactive and anti-change culture


  • Inclusive decision-making.
  • Empowerment.
  • Employees and stakeholders embody change.
  • Hierarchical decision-making.
  • Micro-management.
  • Managers implement change.  


  • Proactively seek opportunities for change.
  • Information empowers the workforce.
  • Behave reactively to change. 
  • Limited information drives anxiety and fear. 



  • Faster decision-making and implementation in response to change.
  • Clear stakeholder accountability.
  • Slow decision-making and discomfort in response to change. 
  • Lack of clarity and accountability among stakeholders.


  • Inclusive and outcomes-based work-ethic.
  • Deadline-driven work ethic.

5.Trust and Credibility

  • Maintains mutually beneficial relationships among all stakeholders.
  • Transparent internal and external communication.
  • Emphatic leaders/managers.
  • Estranged stakeholders. 
  • Lack of transparency due to lack of information. 
  • Authoritative leaders/managers.

1. Consistency limits anxiety

When faced with circumstances that require significant change, organisations tend to try and control what they can. As a result, anti-change culture behaviours manifest as micro-management or hierarchical decision-making. The result is that employees are left frustrated and anxious. 

Building organisational resilience driven by consistency requires leaders to adopt inclusive and consultative decision-making frameworks. The value that lies in aligning employees is immeasurable. Do this by identifying change champions among employees who model the proposed change to others in their team or department. The change is therefore delivered by peers and managers, which is more effective and sustainable. 

2. Adaptability leaves no room for uncertainty

On a global scale we often see fear manifesting as denial. However, a fearful, reactive culture on an organisational level hampers its ability to move forward with productivity. This culture thrives amidst uncertainty.

On the other hand, a pro-change culture favouring adaptability leads to an empowered workforce, whether it be on a systems, leadership or engagement level. An empowered workforce and agile leadership team can identify opportunities for change, which enable them to navigate uncertainty.

3. Responsiveness is more than speed

Raconteur believed that “Resilience culture is not built overnight. It depends on a long-term investment in purpose, people and process.” Although timeous decision-making and implementation sometimes needs to happen quickly, developing a culture that can respond quickly does not.

A reactive organisational culture may be characterised by employees that feel uncomfortable with fluid decisions and the perceived effort required to drive or adopt change. This brings us back to employee alignment. Without alignment, the pace of change is riddled with stumbling blocks, instead of building blocks.

On the other hand, a pro-change organisation fosters responsive behaviour, all of which are upheld by collaborative frameworks. Here we need to emphasise how important it is to have good decision-making that is anchored in accountability.

Internally, collaborative cultures are supportive and permeate efficient communication throughout employee networks. An agile organisational culture also leaves room for rapid adoption of the best choice in new technology, systems and processes during times when external forces are beyond their control. As a result, the power that agility provides has a tendency to circle out to an organisation’s stakeholders and client base. 

4. Reliability goes hand-in-hand with quality

Organisations often need to weigh up time, money and quality when making decisions. During times of change, when an organisation plans reactively (or neglect to plan) for capacity and workflow, the actual quality of work delivered at the end of the day might be compromised.

Burnout is often a symptom of an anti-change organisational culture that rewards a deadline-driven work ethic.

Resilient organisations know that consistent investment into each one of the resilience building blocks pays off when they’re able to implement change or adapt to external change factors while still upholding a high standard of work. These organisations are able to plan their capacity proactively. They are also great at allowing for contingency as part of change. We recommend this as a healthier approach as it links back to employee wellness.

5. Credibility and trust at the core of all stakeholder relationships

Successful organisational cultures rely heavily on relationships steered by trust. Internally, employees look to organisations to facilitate their professional development and to allow a safe space for error.  Externally, clients and stakeholders feel comfortable with the organisation’s reputation and believe in the integrity of its people, service promises and brand equity. 

An anti-change culture that compromises its credibility runs the risk of becoming estranged from its clients and stakeholders or lose employee trust due to leadership lacking empathy.

In contrast, resilient organisational cultures focus on creating and maintaining valuable and mutually beneficial relationships. One way of doing so is through transparent internal and external communication.

In the end, building a resilient organisational culture requires employees to rally behind a common purpose or goal. In this case the purpose is change. No doubt it will require significant investment, support and facilitation, but it is a small price to pay for thriving in uncertainty.