Learning to Build a Resilient Culture in the Workplace

Southwestern Energy
CLIENT:Southwestern Energy
LOCATION:Spring, Texas
SIZE: ~1,000 employees

Client Profile & Challenge

Southwestern Energy (SWN), a top 3 producer of natural gas in the contiguous United States, found itself facing a shifting marketplace and external environment. The organization needed to make significant changes to its workforce, including a change in focus for the business. Most of its workforce, however, had not worked through the long-term, cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry.

The high level of uncertainty the organization faced, coupled with a decreased sense of control for employees, created an environment where employees faced significant stress and anxiety.

Decades of research show that stress and anxiety have negative effects on our health, productivity, and mood. Short periods of stress can often be managed successfully, but extended periods of worry and uncertainty, if left unchecked, can have detrimental effects.

We partnered with SWN to achieve 3 goals:

  • Decrease employee stress levels during a tough, sustained period in the company’s history;
  • Increase people’s physical and emotional energy to keep performing at high levels; and
  • Create a scalable solution to reach top leaders and frontline employees in a cost-efficient way.

SWN wanted a solution to engage busy executives who might feel that they and their teams didn’t have time for leadership development and resilience training. To achieve lasting culture change, it was critical for frontline workers to also have access to the experience.

Southwestern Energy builds a resilient culture with the Center for Creative Leadership case study

Solution & Results

We worked with SWN to develop a 2-track resilience process focused on “Leading Change,” and “Building a Culture of Resilience.”

The initiative started with the top 130 SWN leaders because building a culture of resilience in an organization requires leaders at the top to model the new behaviors. Organizational leaders were invited to attend a set of 3, 2-hour resilience sessions at the company’s headquarters near Houston. Over the course of 3 days, leaders could attend a different resilience session per day, based on their schedules. Nearly 80% of those invited attended the sessions.

With senior leaders now empowered with new knowledge and resiliency tools, it was time to start spreading these concepts and behaviors to the rest of the organization. After the workshops, leaders set up 30-minute meetings with their teams in which they played a short video, then engaged in team discussions about how to use a particular resilience tool.

Over several months, nearly 1,000 employees learned new resiliency practices they could apply right away. To ensure resiliency took hold at SWN, we helped the organization design and implement additional practices, including:

  • Pairing leaders with accountability partners. This allowed leaders to share their activities, accomplishments, and plans on a regular basis.
  • Creating “Each-One, Teach-One” videos. These short, monthly videos focused on specific resiliency topics and included discussion questions that leaders could use with their teams.
  • Holding follow-up and accountability sessions. 60 days after the initial resiliency workshops were presented, senior leaders and SWN’s HR Department hosted hour-long accountability and best practices meetings.

SWN leaders took a resilience survey before the workshop and again a year later. Of the 5 negative resilience behaviors — rumination, emotional inhibition, toxic achieving, avoidance coping, and perfectionism — 4 showed significant improvement. Avoidance coping was already strong to begin with among SWN leaders.

Lower scores are better
Before the Program
One Year Later
Emotional inhibition
Toxic achieving
Avoidance coping

Participants Say

“It is rare that a leadership concept can grip an organization in such a powerful way and deliver game-changing results. We applied the learnings and approach presented in the ‘Work without Stress’ workshops and saw an immediate and positive impact on our team. Throughout the company, our leaders lead with a renewed sense of self-awareness and tangible skills to become more agile and resilient in the face of change, complexity, and challenge. Resilience can be learned; we are proof of that! We are now better equipped to consistently work smarter and add greater value.”

Bill Way

President & CEO
Southwestern Energy

Partner With Us

We can work with you to develop a custom or off-the-shelf resilience-building program using a practical, scientific, and application-based approach that will allow your leaders to avoid burnout, and instead, burn bright.

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