June 24. 2020
-how to get through difficult times-
This webinar is not a deep dive, but an insight into the topic of resilience.
Resilience, everyone needs it. We all face challenges, and having a degree of resilience in our daily lives is something that helps us get through those lives.
Managing Director INTOO UK & Ireland
INTOO UK & Ireland
“Everyone needs resilience, because one thing is certain, life includes adversity”.
COVID-19 is something that no one expected. It is quite a challenging time for everyone, from all sorts of different perspectives, work perspectives, health perspectives. How do we continue our daily lives? How is our interaction with our family and friends? This all has become a real challenge.
Resilience runs through all of these different activities as a golden thread.
Business leaders are facing more challenges now than ever before. Some of you may be familiar with the phrase VUCA leadership. It is the art of leading teams in volatile, unstable complex and ambiguous environments. That’s bad enough and business as usual for the last four to five years. If we add the COVID-19 challenge to it, it’s evident that individuals, teams and organizations have some difficult times to motivate their teams.
The word motivation is quite an important one. As a leader, it is essential that you can clearly motivate a group of people towards a common objective. That is what leaders are put in place to. Helping teams and helping individuals to focus on the task at hand. This future focus is important.
How do we come out of this horrible spinning vortex and how do we get into the safety of these little paper boats? That is resilience.
UNCERTAINTY IMPACTS PERFORMANCE
We know that uncertainty impacts performance. Studies have shown that typically only around 40% of potential is displayed at work. So people turn up for work, and they only really give around 40% of the maxim potential effort.
Why do they do that? Generally these, these topics crop up fairly regularly. Whenever these types of surveys are shown as a fear of failure, people have a lack of confidence. They demonstrate self doubt. They don’t feel adequately supported and they are uncertain around the future. If we look at 40% being a measure in normal times. We see that in uncertain times, this metric drops to 23%. This means that when we look at our individuals, our people, our employees, if they are facing very difficult and uncertain times, we are only getting 23% of the potential effort from them. This implicates, when you employ four people, you are only really getting one person’s worth of efforts. This is not good for organizations nor for individuals.
RESILIENCE and RESILIENT EMPLOYEES
Resilience is the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. It is the ability to bounce back with energy and figure.
Resilient people develop this mental capacity to adapt with uncertainties. They feel comfortable in ambiguous environments. They are very happy to change direction. They understand the need to change direction, and they can do it with a fair degree of attitude and applicability.
They can also bounce back with stressful situations and have a greater sense of control. We often find that resilient people talk about themselves as being in control. I like to be in control. I’m calm. I’m able to address the issues that are placed in front of me with this degree of calmness and appropriate reaction.
The opposite is people who are not resilient, very panicky and feeling out of control. As whereas resilient people have strong problem solving skills, adapting easily to the situation and focussing on positive outcomes.
Generally we find that if people focus on positive outcomes, they’re more likely to achieve them. It’s something that we also see in career consulting. Having a career plan, some sort of long-term indication where you’re going, you are more likely to get there.
The same applies to resilient individuals. People who focus on positive outcomes are more likely to achieve them. They are comfortable with ambiguity, which goes back to the VUCA mindset. They are confident enough to realize that there are many things that may crop up that they hadn’t planned for, but will be more able to deal with them when they do crop up.
People that are generally, fairly robust and fairly resilient will be more healthy, fitter, mentally sharper and able to adapt physically and emotionally to some of the challenges that they are faced with. They also develop stronger relationships. Which is important when we are faced with difficult times, we need our colleagues, friends and partners to support us. If we have deep, strong relationships with those people, we are likely to be more resilient in our own personal practice and activity.
Over the last 10 years, leadership has changed. There has been a real focus on leadership and the four key areas that many leadership courses have tended to focus on abilities: to operate in a changing environment and demonstrate initiative, to inspire commitment, to demonstrate purposeful leadership and to demonstrate resilience and adaptability. Four key areas that many organizations are looking to develop among their leadership.
Leadership is changing and some of these elements are important for leaders to get a handle on and to develop their skills around. “It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change” (Charles Darwin). Historically we’ve all relied on our functional expertise, but nowadays functional expertise is actually less relevant. Can do change mindset, is now what many organizations are looking for, as businesses are changing so quickly.
We need to get to a stage where individuals can develop this sort of resilience approach to dealing with the changing demands of work. To understand what changes are happening in the organization, how it impacts you, how it impacts others, and particularly for leaders, how it impacts their teams.
What are your strengths now? Where can you improve your change leadership and your resilience? What are your learning objectives? What do you want to focus on? What do you want to improve? What will a successful learning outcome be for you, your team, or your organization? Resilient people will tend to have these sort of little seven steps as questions that they ask themselves on a fairly regular basis.
If you don’t understand how change is impacting you personally, and whether that is from a social, a business or a career perspective, than you know it is very difficult to improve your response to it. By starting to question some of the topics that, you can build up towards increasing resilience.
Understanding your emotional intelligence, understanding your self awareness and how you react to others is, is key. If you don’t understand yourself, you can’t understand others adequately, you can’t then make a plan to improve your performance. Resilient people need to draw breath and consider actions and words carefully. The resilient employee is one that tends to take a step back, evaluate the situation, think about it objectively, and then step in with a solution. People who are less resilient, tend to rush things, tend to not necessarily collate all the facts and don’t necessarily consider their actions. Sometimes they speak quickly, without necessarily thinking about what type of message they’re communicating. Drawing breath, considering your actions you know, thinking carefully about the situation, can help someone developing their resilience. People can’t control everything and some of us like to think we can. This is not an easy thing to do. We have certainly seen that over the recent months. We had to get to a stage where we realized that things will happen, that are outside of our control.
If we are able to embrace ambiguity, we are taking a big first step on to improving our resilience. Many individuals have been through situations before where, their previous experiences have shaped them and people learn from them. In some cases, people forget them very quickly.
Many people who have experienced very difficult or challenging times, often come to a point at which they say, we don’t want to remember that, because it was difficult. What happens is that the experience is put it in a box and stored away in the back of our brains, to forget about it. As whereas resilient people, access those memories and think about the challenges they’ve had previously. Having that degree of self reflection is very important, because it’s something that one can learn from. We don’t tend to do it as often as we should, but it’s certainly something that will pay dividends moving forward.
Another important attitude is to remain calm. The ability to remain calm really helps because you don’t have to think about what might happen but can think about what you will do. Empathy is another one, linked to emotional intelligence. If we are open to understanding the needs and the feelings of others, we can better understand them. Take time out to reinvigorate. Work is important and in many cases, work is what is stressing us, work is what is causing us to question our resilience. If we take time out to reinvigorate a cup of coffee in the garden, some fresh air walk around the block that can really help people and it can support them and give them the ability to meet the challenges ahead.
There are various spheres of influence. First of all there are things that are within our control. Things that we can make choices about. Decisions that we are making on our own behalf.
Then there is the sphere where we have the ability to influence people or influence situations. For example in a work meeting, we’re able to influence the outcome of a corporate decision. We don’t necessarily have control over that decision, but we can influence it.
Finally we come to the sphere where you have no control and no floods. For example, most of us with regards to COVID-19 have no control and no influence over how our respective governments will deal with that situation. Being focused and putting energy into things that you have absolutely no control nor influence over, becomes mentally exhausting for absolutely no results. We need to try and ensure that we only focus on things that we can control or indeed we can influence.
DEVELOPING RESILIENCE TO CHANGE
We often find that less resilient people are those who are most resistant to change and want to hold onto the past. The more quickly you can adapt to a new changing world, the better your chances of developing a resilience. When you find yourselves harking after previous environments, or previous times becomes, it becomes much more difficult to build your resilience, simply because things are changing around you and you’re not willing to accept that change.
Carol Dweck (Harvard professor of psychology) talks about growth mindset, positive mindset. If you are an individual that has a growth mindset, you are more likely to be resilient.The opposite to a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. When you become very rigid in your outlook, you will become very rigid in your thoughts and unable to adapt to changing situations. Resilient people, however, will develop this positive mindset.
DEVELOPING YOUR RESILIENCE TO CHANGE
Once you understand where you need to put your efforts where you can develop your resilience, you can handle change. Looking at myself, individually, my relationship with my skills and my career. These are questions to ask yourself in order to get a better understanding of yourself.
Having some honest conversations with yourself is very important to flag up, not the positive areas, but some of those areas that could do with development.
Good leaders should coach as it obviously allows them to get closer to their employees. Especially now with a lot of working from home, social connections that we would make in an office are no longer there. Helping people understanding what’s making them tick, where their concerns are, is important. A leader understands some of the challenges the employees are facing, and helps how to address them. From a social and a business perspective, a leader should be deploying coaching skills now in pursuit of resilience, more than ever before.
It is important having an understanding about your mental health and being able to work on it and to recognize some of the challenging symptoms and then fix support for it. Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that can help reduce stress and build resilience. If people are having more challenging mental health situations, that are possibly of less use, but actually having five, six, seven minutes a day, thinking about some of the mindful exercises could be very beneficial for, for many people.
Resilient people need to be focused on what they can control. No sense in worrying about things that are outside your sphere of control. We all need as individuals, leaders and managers underneath employees to realize that different people experience change in different ways. If we are able to empathize it helps us individually and it helps our teams build resilience. When we understand how we are feeling, we can put in place appropriate mechanisms to address those changes.
Behaviours are driven by thoughts, thoughts that are driven by feelings. Often we find instances where individuals are exhibiting different behaviours that are based on different feelings.
When people are feeling upset, concerned or at loss with regards to their changes, they are being asked to make, we need to understand what is behind that and what is driving their behaviour.
Focus on your leadership approach and help team members navigate the uncertainty.
Resilience is a broad topic and what I did during this webinar was skipping very briefly through a few models. Some of them have clearly similarities in the broader approach.
People are increasingly requesting support and resilience is a key indicator of success and of performance. So helping those individuals build their resilience is, is absolutely key.