Resiliancy Mantle Blog November

05 Nov 2020

Strategies to support resilience in the workplace

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, longer hours, compressed work weeks, shift work, reduced job security, and part-time and temporary work are realities of the modern workplace and are increasingly affecting the health and lives of employees.

Resilience (successfully adapting to adversity) is now recognised as a defining characteristic of employees who deal well with the stresses and strains of the modern workplace. The good news is that resilience is not a passive quality but an active process that can at least in part be learned.

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, longer hours, compressed work weeks, shift work, reduced job security, and part-time and temporary work are realities of the modern workplace and are increasingly affecting the health and lives of employees.

Resilience (successfully adapting to adversity) is now recognised as a defining characteristic of employees who deal well with the stresses and strains of the modern workplace. The good news is that resilience is not a passive quality but an active process that can at least in part be learned.

Strategies to support resilience

A strong foundation

Physical wellbeing is an important resilience building strategy and chief among these factors are sleep, exercise, and diet. This is an area to take care of to make sure you have strong foundations.

Six Practical Cognitive Strategies 

Leaders need to be on top of their game to thrive in today’s work. At Mantle we call this area ‘leading self’ and it’s the first place we start when we are working to empower leaders to step up and purposefully lead.

1. Eating  the Elephant 

How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.

Faced with a daunting task we can learn from high performing athletes, NASA  and special forces around the world. You break the task into smaller doable segments and focus on the next milestone and then the next and so on. It’s a bit like running up a big hill you target the next corner and then the next  and so on. What you don’t do is think about how big the hill is and how difficult it would be to run up it. Avoid considering the whole, compartmentalise your thinking and free up your working memory.

This concept of compartmentalisation is also a useful strategy for handling different types of work activities such as emailing, meetings strategy sessions. Avoid the 40% loss of productivity caused by constant task switching and compartmentalise your calendar by creating specific parts of the day for certain activities.

2. Visualisation 

This is as simple as getting yourself to imagine success and making that picture as vivid and detailed as possible. Use positive imagery and take yourself through the thinking process repeatedly. High performance athletes do this and studies show this mental rehearsal can have a measurable impact on performance.  This is another leadership benefit of envisioning with your team and stakeholders.  We can prepare for performance by thinking our way into the future.

3. Two Approaches for Managing our Emotions 

We do vary on how sensitive our X System is due to our thinking habits and current levels of tiredness and stress. Once we have triggered ourselves and our body is bathing in adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine we get a temporary boost of energy and focus in exchange for a depressed immune system and an inability to tap into some of our higher thinking.

Approach 1 :A solution has been known for thousands of years and is currently used by everyone from Yogis to Astronauts or Special Forces soldiers. It is simply breathing.

The US Navy Seals use a 4 by 4 for 4 method to calm down. You breath in for 4 seconds and breath our for 4 seconds and repeat for 4 minutes. This technique works even more quickly if you currently meditate regularly anyway.

Approach 2: Accepting, labelling, and verbally expressing an emotion can help reduce its potency and facilitate its cognitive regulation. The employee who is bothered by his feelings toward his boss would benefit from identifying and expressing (privately or to a confidant) his precise feelings, in order to gain insight and mastery. For example, is he upset because he thinks his boss does not value him? Is he ashamed? Is he afraid of future failure?

4. Reframing 

We can’t control what’s happening in the outside world, but we can influence our interpretation of it. Reframing is about training and purposefully choosing a more useful growth mindset perspective to events. It’s about cultivating an optimistic and solutions mindset and looking for the silver lining.

You can practice this one by starting to notice how you are interpreting events and purposefully adopting a more positive interpretation. You can also celebrate small wins on the way. This technique will help you better manage your emotions and over time if you tend to have a lot of negative self-talk it can start to lift your mood.

5. Take Breaks 

Our bodies run on hourly ultradian rhythms and our focus, clarity and energy cycles are typically 90 to 120 minutes long. It is useful to step away even for a few minutes to reset energy and attention.

This balancing of work activity can promote greater energy and mental clarity, creativity and focus  ultimately growing our capacity for resilience through the course of the workday. The long-term payoff is that we preserve energy and prevent burnout over the course of days and weeks and months.

6. Compassion and business effectiveness are not mutually exclusive. 

Perhaps a surprising finding from Stanford research is that cultivating compassion for others and yourself increases positive emotions, creates positive work relationships, increases cooperation and collaboration, and reduces stress.

The ability to build resilience is a future fit skill that will serve us all well in an increasingly stressful world. If we want to attack this 21st Century epidemic, building and leading organisational cultures that are psychologically safe, support resilience and treating resilience as a learned skill to master just makes good sense.

Talk to us about leadership development in your organisation

At Mantle, we’ve worked with the full spectrum of large-scale New Zealand organisations – from Government departments and NFPs to multi-nationals and home-grown enterprises.

Our leadership development programmes are tailored to the specific needs of each client, and always consider the impact of the organisation’s culture.

If you’re interested in developing a leadership development programme that delivers ongoing value, talk to us.

Contact

Phone: 021 833 841

Email: [email protected]

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