Fostering Resilience

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Resilience is certainly a very strange term. Although little known to date, it is not a new term; it has been around in psychology since the seventies. It refers to the ability to forge positive and vital behaviours despite difficult circumstances.

Resistance and positive behaviours

If you “translate” this to the business environment, one of the definitions that surfaces is the ability to adapt to situations of crisis or change through positive attitudes and to emerge stronger. There is no doubt that over the past year and predictably most of this one, many organizations and their employees have had many opportunities to put this capability into practice. Indeed, it is the dream of any manager to have a team of resilient people who are unfazed by discouragement and motivated to achieve overcoming difficulties on the way. Of course, this sounds like science fiction. Like all skills, resilience is not equally present in all individuals and it is not required at all times.

So what can we do to enhance this capacity in companies where—as in the current climate—employees who are focused and motivated are what’s most needed to tackle this crisis and overcome it? To promote and achieve these positive or adaptive behaviours, we have to go beyond traditional techniques for stress or frustration tolerance strategies.

How to foster collaborative work?

The first thing is to review the leadership style in companies. Let’s be frank. Beyond the various theories on leadership, the bottom line is that those who lead should set the tone for these behaviours. So, those who are leading organizations are the first ones who must adopt this attitude to produce the “contagion”. If managers maintain an attitude of temperance when handling difficult situations, and manage to convey confidence in achieving results, it will be easier for employees to have the right frame of mind to face things. This at first seems obvious, but it’s something that is not always done because when things become complicated, it is easy to fall into the temptation to “slacken” the most basic habits for working with coworkers, such as for example, showing confidence in their skills and their ability to cope when in trouble. No need to be reminded of the impact it has on every employee who feels supported and the direct effect on their motivation, and in turn, their perception of their ability to overcome the obstacles in their path.

Another crucial factor to fostering a positive environment is collaboration. If you’re not careful, you run the risk of promoting too much competitiveness to the point of confusing personal goals and overlooking corporate goals, spending more time defending positions rather than confronting problems. Notions like “to win I have to lose you” deplete energy from companies, while “if you win I win, if I lose you lose”, boost them. To achieve these objectives, companies are focusing on the definition of group goals linked to compensation plans.

It is very difficult to try to build resilience if information-sharing is not adequate. Many professionals when talking about how they successfully overcame key situations in their organizations emphasize the importance of transparency. Again, it seems obvious, but if HR managers are not able to clearly convey the true situation of the organization, they cannot expect their employees to ready themselves for it properly. You do not need to resort to unnecessary fuss, but just describe situations clearly. If this isn’t done, another major ally—much needed in such scenarios—will be directly affected: workforce commitment. If you are not truthful with them, then you cannot expect them to commit.

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