Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Resilient people respond resourcefully to organisational change, challenging work assignments and short-term conflicts. However, even the most resilient of us also need reasonable workloads, supportive relationships and positive environments. Sending your team to resilience training won’t resolve systemic issues which are creating unreasonable, ongoing levels of pressure on your people. These include issues such as:
- Unreasonable workloads (time management training won’t fix this problem, either)
- Inappropriate staffing levels
- Bullying cultures, chronic team conflict or toxic team dynamics
- Chaotic work environments characterised by lack of goals, priorities, systems and procedures
Each of these issues creates stress because it places your employees in an ‘unfixable’ situation.
This reduces resilience, because it depletes self-efficacy (the individual’s ability to take charge of their own destiny). Indeed, people who remain in unresolvable situations are likely to develop the thinking patterns associated with learned helplessness. At best they give up and disengage. At worst, their mental health is negatively impacted. Training in learned optimism or resilient thinking techniques might help people cope in the short term. However, the causes of workplace stress also need to be addressed.
The bottom line is this. When the pressure is on, resilience training should only be one part of your employee wellbeing strategy. Other options to consider include:
- Clearly articulating the purpose and mission of your business. There is clear evidence from positive psychology research that meaning and purpose are critical to resilience. They give your people a reason to engage – and with engagement comes improved psychological wellbeing
- Reviewing and redesigning work processes, systems and procedures
- Updating position descriptions and clearly defining workloads for each team member
- Programming regular coaching conversations between supervisors and individual team members
- Addressing team dynamics problems through interventions such as team-building, mediation or performance management
- Referring individuals to appropriate external support services, such as coaching or counselling
Once these measures have been implemented, training your people in learned optimism and resilience techniques will be helpful. A good resilience workshop will cover topics such as:
- Emotion regulation
- Learned optimism
- Disputing negative thoughts
- Solution focused thinking
- Hope theory
- Growth mindset and reflective thinking
Find out more about resilience in my video What is Resilience?
About the author of this article:
Eleanor is a master trainer and coach. She trains savvy professionals in a range of sectors – including higher education, health, finance and local government – in the use of positive psychology tools and techniques. Eleanor is the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D practitioners. She runs specialist training for facilitators and trainers, as well as delivering customised training for corporate teams.