Resilience has always been a topic that fascinates me – on a personal level and professional level – and it’s a hot topic now as we manage the emotional side of world events.
But it is a word that risks being flippantly used or seen as the silver bullet – particularly in the workplace.
I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “Oh we/they/you just need to be more resilient.”
I am often asked if sending employees off to resilience training will help them “cope” better with their roles. In fact, during a national presentation on occupational violence and aggression and the impact on staff emotional wellbeing, I was asked by one attendee how they could design a recruitment campaign that screened for appropriately resilient staff.
This question was well-meaning and with the right intent – ultimately to stop the work factors impacting on individuals – but it was the wrong question.
The right question was: Why, as an organisation, are we tolerating such damaging levels of behaviour by our customers? Or, if we can’t eradicate that how can we design the role, tasks, or systems to reduce the impact?
Environmental and Personal
The reality is that resilience is a twofold concept and is impacted by both environmental (the workplace, the community, the world) and our own personal or intrinsic factors.
Sending staff off to resilience training will not absolve an organisation from the requirement to ensure a psychologically safe workplace or to provide the necessary prevention and support structures; but it may help the individual to develop or strengthen their own personal resilience strategies.
Building Our Personal Resilience – Strategies, Supports, Resources & Insights
As individuals we can take steps to strengthen our resilience, by creating a resilience plan.
In the workplace we can contribute to an individual’s resilience by ensuring we mitigate risks to psychological harm, look at job design and work-related stress factors and provide appropriate supports for individuals, particularly at times of significant personal impact.
The SSRI Model
Apologies to my health readers, in this context SSRI is not the antidepressant drug class but a model to strategically develop our resilience system.
To strengthen our resilience, we need to sit down and identify our strategies, supports, resources and insights that we can draw from when we need to. In professional resilience training you will be guided to develop your own SSRI plan. It’s a little confronting but also very reassuring. It is putting logic and systems into what is often an emotional space, doing this in advance, so we can draw on this when we need to and when we are usually unable to think in a logical clear-headed way.
On a personal level, like most of us, I have had a few bumps along this road of life. We all have this “stuff” right. Things, that at the time we think we will never get through, but we do.
And we can feel like we have capacity for nothing more, almost fearful that if something else happens it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The process of developing an SSRI plan gives you confidence that you will get through that.
As an individual I encourage you to take a look and even just think through some of the responses, this will give you hope and optimism that you will have what you need to get you through.
But as a workplace, as a Leader, think about the strategies, strengths, resources, and insights you can draw on to support your employees particularly at this challenging time.
Work together with other leaders to co-design an SSRI plan for your teams/workplace – something that helps support you in your role as you strive to support your team members.
A sample SSRI Template – examples as a guide, populate your own.
|Prompts||Your Plan Individual||Workplace/Work Team Plan|
|Strategies – Practical things we can do/enact.||What are the practical things you can do/call on when things go wrong?||Meditation techniques, diet/exercise, psychologists, GP.||Team gathering. Problem-solving approaches. Mistake tolerance (psychological safety).|
|Strengths – We draw upon ourselves.||What are your inherent strengths?||Are you courageous? Optimistic? Determined? A good communicator? Do you have a good sense of humour?||Clifton 34 Strengths Team Grid = Executors/Strategists
for problem-solving, relationship builders for support. Unity of the team.
|Resources – We turn to.||Who/what do we turn to for support, inspiration, replenishment?||
Friends, mentors, self-help books, podcasts, places we feel safe, support groups, telephone helplines.
Workshops on wellbeing/psychological safety. Coaching.
Teammates, relationships. Laughter.
|Insights||Inspirational sayings, motivation quotes. Perspectives or ideas you’ve found useful in the past.||Spiritual, philosophical, positive reframing, big picture thinking, the concept of time, drawing on previous history of change.|| Coaching questions. Can you think of a time when we were challenged at work and we got through? What did we do? What worked well for us? What new things can we implement this time?
What are the opportunities for us in this challenge?
How can we strengthen as a team to support us through?
Adapted from SSRI handout by Chris Johnstone.
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