Tips for improving your resilience

Resilience means bouncing back from adversity. It is a useful skill in the workplace, because it means ‘getting on with the job’ after a failure, letdown or stressful event. It allows people to adapt to change quickly and effectively

Turning adversity into opportunity

When faced with stress, some people breakdown while others thrive. This is seen in a study outlined on the American Psychological Association website. Psychologists at the University of Chicago conducted a 12-year longitudinal study into resilience, looking at the characteristics of people who cope well in stressful situations.

The researchers studied the impact of a major downsizing operation that occurred in 1981 at Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT). The business cut its staff of 26,000 by almost half in less than one year.

The results showed that almost two-thirds of employees suffered a decline in performance and health, following the upheaval. This included heart attacks, strokes, obesity, depression, substance abuse and poor performance reviews.

But, one third of the group actually thrived under the new conditions. The researchers identified three attitudes that distinguished this group from the others:

  1. Commitment—Those in the resilient group strove to be involved in ongoing events.
  2. Control—The resilient group tried to influence results, rather than taking on a victim mentality.
  3. Challenge—The resilient group regarded experiences as learning opportunities.

Viva la Resilience!

Commitment, control and challenge are qualities that can be learned. We can all develop resilience. Here are some approaches you can take to build your own resilience and encourage it in the workplace.

  • Build networks—Research shows that having caring relationships is one of the most important factors in resilience. Offer employees encouragement and support by recognising their work, communicating regularly and leading by example.
  • Develop confidence—Confidence is linked to control. People with positive views of themselves are better able to deal with problems and take affirmative action. If you believe you are able to overcome a stressful situation, it is likely that you will.
  • Set realistic goals—Have high expectations but set goals that are practical. Achieving goals gives you confidence. If you continually fail to meet goals, you will suffer from self-doubt, a sense of failure and will begin to think you can never meet expectations. People who are used to achieving their goals will be more resilient than those that continually fail.
  • Improve emotional intelligence—Understanding, caring and supporting others in the workplace will help people overcome disappointment or change. Establish open and honest communication. View negative events as learning experiences. Remember the saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill me, will only make me stronger”.