In life we will encounter tough times, both in our personal and work lives. Resilience is our ability to handle those tough times; our ability to bounce back. Everybody is different in their capacity to handle stress and pressure, some do it well, others less so. This is why a team coaching approach can be particularly effective to build resilience. Here are some key areas to focus on.
If you want your team to develop resilience you need to have a clear purpose. Establish clear goals and break them down into achievable chunks. Ensure everyone knows how they are contributing and why their role is valued. Celebrate success as you achieve each goal to keep up team spirit. Allow people to focus on the things they are passionate about. People bounce back better if they love what they’re doing.
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ so goes the saying. At work, people are often reluctant to talk about things that are stressing them for fear of losing face or being perceived as weak or incapable. Create a team culture that makes it ok to talk openly, and as a team offer support. Create strong relationships, a ‘buddy’ system may encourage quieter team members to open up for example. Talk regularly as a team, not just about the ‘stuff’ but about how you’re feeling about the ‘stuff’.
We can’t buffer ourselves from the bad stuff, it happens and we sometimes have to ride it. If you know tough times are on the horizon, come together and prepare for it. Creating a flexible and positive approach is vital if you are to avoid sinking into the ‘spiral of doom’. Think of a tree in a storm. If the branches are brittle and inflexible, they’re more likely to snap and break off, while more flexible branches withstand the pressure. Encourage the team to be open minded and willing to try new things. Create an appetite for taking a few risks. If the team are showing signs of giving up, come together and pool ideas to see if there is an alternative solution.
Those that lack resilience will allow setbacks to dent their confidence. If negative self-talk has crept in, reframe at every opportunity until it becomes a new good habit. Regularly review your progress as a team, focusing on the positives first. Asking ‘what is going well right now, and what should we keep on doing’ puts the team in a more positive frame of mind. Don’t avoid the negatives, but word it in a constructive way ‘what do we need to focus on to improve further’ is slightly more palatable than ‘we’ve screwed up, what went wrong’.
Keep in Good Physical Shape
So far we’ve focused on the emotional resilience of the team, but it also pays to consider the physical aspect of well-being. While it is not our role to dictate to grown adults how they manage their diet and exercise routine, we can create the conditions for them to make informed choices. Many organisations have well-being progammes, but if you don’t, then perhaps you can offer flexibility for the team to build exercise into their working day. One thing you can dictate is ensuring people take regular breaks away from the workspace, and have a golden rule that people leave work where it belongs…at work.
Keep ‘em Peeled
As a manager, keep your eyes peeled and be alert to early warning signs. Stress can creep up on us without us realising it, but we may be conveying it through our body language and behaviour. Look for vital clues. If office banter and laughter is the norm, notice if it suddenly stops. Are shoulders starting to droop? Are people taking more time off sick? If so, see if there is an underlying cause.
Cooper, Flint-Taylor, Pearn (2013) ‘Building Resilience for Success’ Palgrave Macmillan