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Building Resilience in Employees

by Ryan Adam

Are you working long hours, always feeling anxious and facing burnout?

I've been there, got the t-shirt and took an amazingly long time to get back on track. The problem is not knowing when to stop; take a break, get lots of sleep and how to deal with anxiety. It seems like I'm reading a lot about mental health, stress and anxiety and I know that resilience is critical to fighting anxiety and depression and for promoting wellbeing.


After reading the article about the CEO from Olark supporting an employee who was taking sick days so she could come back mentally-refreshed, I found myself wondering how many leaders and managers would truly support their employees in the same way?

Work on your own resilience- self-audit your stressors!

You have to build your personal resources before you can draw upon them. It's like an emotional bank account. The more you keep yourself refreshed, managing triggers to unhelpful emotions and taking good care of yourself, you can draw upon the "credit" if you hit a low point. Look at your stressors and work out whether or not you can do something about eliminating them. It's fine to feel how you feel, but it is how you manage your reactions and stop yourself from worrying, obsessing and criticising yourself, that matters. You need none of that "negative internal critic" stuff. Write your stressors down in a list.

If you see any "I can't"; "I'm unable", "I must" or "I should" - stop and ask yourself. What is putting the pressure on you so that you must or should? If it is your own imposed pressure, you can learn how to stop this.

If you "can't" what CAN you do instead? Turn any limiting self-talk into positive self talk. Rid yourself of "I'm unable" and turn it into "I will" or"I will not" as that gives you control over your choices.

Go through and audit your stressors and work out ways to eliminate them. If you have a CLEAR PURPOSE and know where you're heading, each action should take you one step further towards that purpose or goal. Then, when you do need to draw upon your credit account, you are doing this because it is helping you to move forwards. I find it useful to do a quick review at the end of each week.

Know your tipping point!

I talk about this on the "Build It" courses as setting up a business can be full of pressure situations. There's tons to do, but self-management helps hugely. It's about keeping and staying in the zone, and that means knowing your tipping point between positive and negative.

  1. Pressure can be positive (motivating challenge) or negative (stressful).
  2. Positive pressure is essential for well-being (health and happiness), engagement and performance.

Everyday challenges can be prioritised, but know your own tipping point between positive to negative and manager the triggers.

If you are a People Manager

Become equipped with guidance on how to improve, and commit to self-improvement and to assist with resilience issues in your teams. There is no point expecting your team members to be resilient if you are flapping around like a fish out of water, so set an example. Be solution-focused. Dealing with change and conflict in the workplace are facts of life, and without change there would be no movement, growth or development. For many employees, it is in times of change that they face conflict and feel at their most vulnerable. Focus on the opportunities, not the problems and instill this into your culture.

Offer support, but more importantly talk to your team openly about the situations they come across that can cause higher-levels of stress and create ways to minimise these. If you can, do this as a team. Whilst this requires a level of trust to work, it will help team members to support each other, without appearing weak or incapable. Every individual has their tipping point, so it's useful to know where these are, and the team can start to see stress in others and help each other.

Finally, if you can get your company to offer workshops and present strategies for coping, this can translate into support into other areas of their life. You may be helping more than you realise.

What other strategies help you and your team? Feel free to share these!

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