Four steps to a resilient workforce

Resilience is a new people management buzz word – a magical ingredient which sets candidates apart when hiring in an environment of financial challenges, market uncertainty and rapidly changing customer needs.

First, we hired for skills, until the portion of highly skilled graduates and seasoned applicants reached dizzying numbers. Then, we sought particular qualities which the Emotional Intelligence revolution pointed towards. The ‘team-player’ was born. Recently, and as we reconsider the respective benefits of extraverts and introverts in the work-place whilst Susan Cain calls for a “Quiet Revolution”, it is behaviour which takes centre-stage, and in particular our capacity for resilience.

In 2017, the ideal employee is the one who can quickly adapt, learn new skills and bounce back in the face of adversity. Indeed, the Oxford dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Apparently you either got it, or you don’t.

From personal experience however, anyone can get knocked down at any point in life and need a little support to get back up. Resilience isn’t a set characteristic. Rather, we fluctuate on a pendulum between resilience and vulnerability depending on external factors we often have very little control over. To look for resilience in employees can only go so far and misses the point that how we react to uncertainty or pressure in a work context is a function not of how resilient we are as individuals but of the type of environment we work in.

When I experienced acute depression following a series of personal tragedies, it is my line manager who made a difference and coached me back to my resilient self. All it took was three words.

As a business coach I am often asked by clients how to increase resilience in employees. I always start with those same words: I TRUST YOU…

  • I trust you to contribute to the organisation’s ambition
  • I trust you to deliver work you can be proud of
  • I trust you with how, where and when to meet your objectives
  • I trust you to come to me with issues, so we can find a solution together
  • I trust you to ask for skills development when you need

In truth, it is up to us as leaders to resilience in our team. The role of the leader is to trust, empower, communicate and support to create an inclusive business environment where staff are equipped to deal with uncertainties and failure and can successfully bounce back when times are hard.

In my case, depression became a positive experience and the opportunity to rethink the way I work – and manage others. I adopted achievement-based principles and empowered my staff to work how they see fit provided objectives are met. By managing through trust I created a more relaxed work culture and helped develop a team of outstanding professionals who consistently deliver to a standard we can be proud of. Nowadays, I coach business leaders on how to build an environment where resilience isn’t left to chance but a product of positive management practices.

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Written by - Dr Sophie Buchaillard,
Creative Confidence Consulting

Date - 12/09/2017