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Resilience: a Virtue to Master?

‘Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.’ Harvard Business Review.

Data shows that in today’s hyperconnected world, up to 75% of the workforce in all continents, admits moderate to high-stress levels. Stress and subsequent emotional health issues such as anxiety, forgetfulness, irritability, insomnia, depression and even burnout, can badly threaten work performance. Managers who are impacted by stress, show patterns of poor decision making, poor leadership, lack of transparency, tendency to hide and escape responsibilities, a tendency to absenteeism.

In such a menacing scenario, companies and organisations have put in place strategies to protect their employees by creating a more resilient working environment. It is crucial to find out what eats on the ‘resilience reserves’, by, for example, conducting a company-based survey. Reasons for employees to be stressed out can vary from having difficulties in connecting to colleagues, to thinking that the workload is not reasonably divided, to constant change, to poor or missing communication, to undefined goals and the list goes on.  

Every place is different, and every management style is different, but here are some tips for you if you have to find ways to improve resilience at your workplace.

1. Be transparent

Don’t be afraid to ask and to welcome criticism. Openly ask what the problems are and figure out if the situation can be handled by dealing only with the heads of the teams or if a more significant intervention is needed. Also, don’t be afraid to tell how the situation makes you feel, sharing your worry shows that you want to be part of the solution.

2. Show that your expectations are realistic

Becoming resilient may require a lengthy process, and everyone has different needs and times. Encourage staff to speak out and to ask for support if needed.

3. Communicate assertively and lead by example

Respect is a two-way street, your staff will appreciate you if you reciprocate and will feel more at ease if they know they are free to express their opinions rather than having to bottle up their feelings and frustrations.

4. The staff doesn’t need to be happy

The goal is to be resilient. In a world promoting instant satisfaction and instant happiness, it’s easy to lose the focus of what, in the long run, you want to achieve. As a manager you do not need to keep your employees constantly happy, it is normal to go through difficulties. American psychologist Peter D. Kramer, specialised in treating clinical depression, put it best: ‘Happiness isn’t the opposite of depression, resilience is. Think of the people you most admire; many of them didn’t get where they are just by sailing through life, without any negative experiences or failures.’

5. Encourage employees to live healthily

Encourage your employees to take time to rest, to practice sports, to spend time outdoors and to eat healthily. When we are physically active, we become stronger also emotionally, and we can deal better with stressful situations. Hence, we can achieve more, be more focused and become more productive.

6. Remember: resilience is a virtue to master

It gives us strength, even in the darkest times because it projects a positive image of the future. Resilience means to bounce back when things are tough. It means to be able to swiftly recover from difficulties by allocating our resources on what we can control and on dropping all the rest. As a manager, you may not be able to control what goes wrong in everyone’s life, but you can create positive experiences that will enable your staff to have more mental control and stability.

Read More on Team Management to Improve Resilience at Your Workplace