Resilience – 4 Steps to NOT make it another initiative

Resilience is the new word for 2011.  If you have not heard it yet you will.  There is risk in using it because the definition sounds hard.  Mirriam-Webster’s dictionary presents resilience as  an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.  Can you hear the chatter over coffee or lunch already?  This as the potential to be a great Dilbert comic strip or episode on The Office.

So what would be the benefit to your team if people spent 50% less downtime after a major change?  Are you concerned about burning out key people?  Do you see no immediate end to the pace you are asking your teams to work?  It is time to address how an organization can use the resilience discussion to give their leaders more energy and provide their teams with new skills to deal with the realities of a difficult business environment.

  1. Be transparent about your concerns:  If everyone is feeling the stress and strain of an uncertain today or tomorrow then talk about it.  People are more likely to take it seriously if they hear their leaders discussing it openly and making personal changes/efforts to increase their own resilience.  
  2. Focus initially on self awareness / team awareness:  A basic discussion about stress and how it happens for each of us is a good place to start.  Just the knowledge of how each of us reacts to stress and how our teammates react allows discussions to happen in a way that people can help each other as they help themselves.
  3. Bridge awareness to ‘How do I cope?’:  There is lots of research around the effect of exercise, yoga, friendships, and many other things that allow people to relieve stress or gather support.  The key is to have people pick something and do it.  For executives, this is often where coaching becomes a key tool so they can have a safe place to deal with their individual needs and support in making a change into a habit.  For others, the support of a team or a few key friends at work is critical, so assist in building those relationships.
  4. Continue the discussion:  In one on one meetings leaders should follow-up on commitments made to pursue friendships or get exercise.  Maybe even pushing people to leave at lunch or make their 5pm yoga class.  In team meetings – spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meetings hearing about key wins and key stress points this week.  If someone sounds particularly stressed out make a habit to check in with them.

Resilience is a timely discussion given the current economic realities.  Just don’t make it an initiative, make it a habit.  How relevant is this topic to what you are seeing or hearing or feeling?