In most work environments, there are multiple challenges for both managers and staff. These include the pressures to constantly deliver business results, the demands of meeting imposed financial and other goals, dealing with changes whether they be system, structural or people changes, and personality dynamics when you have a range of different ideas, beliefs and work styles in the mix.
Skills are needed to deal with these things effectively, including “people skills”. But also, underneath the skill layer is something we call resilience.
My observation over the years has been that people who can self-assess well – they understand their own motivations and behaviours – and who maintain clear thought processes generally, are better able to cope with challenges along the way.
In his recent book “The Resilient Farmer”, Doug Avery says:
“Resilience isn’t about not having bad times. It’s about having the tools to recover from difficulties, to adapt, to bounce forward. Part of resilience is being honest and self-aware about the feelings we carry inside ourselves”.
Steven Covey also reflects this concept in the paradigms and principles which are developed in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Research has shown that though 50% of our ability to cope with stress is genetic (we’re hard-wired with this); 10% can be attributed to circumstances (the things that happen which are beyond our control); and actually 40% is determined by our choices. This means that we ourselves have a big influence over our ability to deal with challenges. We can make healthy choices in these situations which enable us to become more resilient.
Resilience is our ability to weather the storms and “bounce forward” (rather than back). And a significant factor underpinning our ability to cope with the challenges and stress of a work environment is our health – both mental and physical.
In stressful situations, we automatically apply the “fight or flight” response, but there is a huge drain on our human systems if this response is overused. Flexibility and optimism I think are crucial buffers which enable us to manage our stressors differently. The feeling of being in control of oneself and one’s decisions is a significant feature in this.
But we’re not talking about individual survival in the work environment at the expense of others here. Simply that the more individuals demonstrate these qualities, the more productive and successful the business is likely to be.
What attributes do resilient people have?
- They understand change (i.e. change is always happening and we’ll never be at a point where “it’s all sorted”);
- They always take a learning approach (even to mistakes we make – what can we do better next time);
- They know what the “critical indicators” are (what really matters);
- They let go of what’s not important (avoid being overwhelmed);
- They celebrate “wins” (appreciate and acknowledge progress, even small things);
- They are also able to cultivate networks before challenges hit (connect positively with others, have a support team in place).