A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO BUILDING RESILIENCE
Empowering individuals and organisations to take focused action on stress
Leaving aside its long term impact on the health of individuals, unmanaged stress can induce irrational and dangerous behaviours that can threaten the wellbeing of organisations. Stress is often the main reason for organisational ineffectiveness, high staff turnover and has caused numerous business failures through a lack of recognition and appreciation of its cancerous impact.
We can’t fix what we can’t see.
Progressive employers use proper, scientific approaches to assess, develop and monitor stress as a pathway to resilience, recognising that for meaningful improvement, action is required by BOTH individuals and management. Our proprietary tool ‘AURA’ enables individuals, teams and organisations to take early and focused action on issues before they develop into more complex and damaging problems. Through a simple index, it provides a baseline against which to measure progress and track impact of interventions.
What do we mean by resilience?
Resilience is commonly defined as the capacity to withstand pressure and adapt positively to challenging or stressful experiences. It is NOT about simply working harder in the face of setbacks or being like ‘teflon’ – letting difficulties slide off you as if nothing has happened. Resilience is about facing up to reality and moving through adversities in a solution-focused way, managing the impact on their wellbeing. Resilient people have a ‘growth mindset’ – they embrace challenges, seeing them as opportunities to learn.
Like a muscle, we can build resilience with targeted effort, discipline, support and adjusting our approach as we go.
Resilience fluctuates along a Continuum
Every human being experiences stress and to a degree, it is helpful as it energises us and uplifts our performance. However if left unmanaged, stress can have negative impacts on our health and wellbeing, eventually leading to burnout.
Exhibit 1: The Burnout – Resilient Continuum
Why focus on resilience?
For the past few years, there has been a focus on wellbeing and there is no doubt, this is important for performance. However, this fails to consider that some stress is inevitable and we can’t avoid it. Therefore, attention must be shifted to build resilience as the means to achieving wellbeing.
What are the features of resilient organisations?
Have preventative measures in place to minimise undue pressure and create a healthy working environment
Are more productive, with lower employee turnover and related absenteeism
Spend less on employee healthcare
Have a lower potential for reputational risk from irrational decisions, dangerous behaviours, toxic cultures or employee suicides
What are the features of resilient teams?
Are more collaborative, creative and engaged
Develop a climate of ‘psychological safety’, where team members feel comfortable sharing their difficulties, fears and needs
Have a shared sense of purpose
What are the features of resilient individuals?
Respond quickly and flexibly to change, challenge or adversity
Are proactive in managing the impact of stress on their wellbeing
Are able to sustain high levels of performance
Bounce back better from setbacks
Stress & Building Resilience Fundamentals
©Austen Advisory Limited, 2016
How can we support you?
Austen Advisory have a proprietary scientific framework (AURA) to build resilience in a holistic way. The starting point may depend on what is already in place, but broadly we can help in the following ways:
Coaching one-to-one is a very powerful way to help someone reflect upon issues that affect their performance and well-being. When tackling complex and sensitive issues around stress and mental health, having objective data insights into issues provides a platform for constructive discussions.
Just focusing on the individual is only part of the picture. All really effective coaching addresses not only the individual, but the systems, of which they are a part.
Our approach to team resilience coaching enables the group to:
Surface and build collective awareness of common issues affecting wellbeing and performanceDevelop a climate of ‘psychological safety’, where team members feel comfortable sharing their difficulties, fears and needs for supportReflect on and question existing assumptions and ways of workingIdentify specific ways to create a healthier working environment where people can perform at their bestCreate a greater sense of shared purpose
Find out how we helped BBC Studios take a strategic approach to building resilience – click below for a case study
AURA Toolkit – Empowering Action and Embedding Resilience
AURA has a carefully constructed toolkit of resources to empower individuals and managers in channelling the assessment insights into action.
These include a digital resilience resources hub, action planning templates, coaching tools, personal resilience toolkits, game based learning activities and more. Here are some examples:
Personal resilience action planners – designed to help employees hone in on 2-3 strategies and tools that will have a meaningful impact on building their resilience. We have a range of action planning tools to appeal to people’s different styles.
Resilience resources online library – this is a collection of practical resources for individuals to explore as they build their personal resilience skills. There are over 95 resources comprising tools, practice tips, videos, articles, podcasts, contact points for therapists, coaches or other service providers and more. We recognise people have different needs and is carefully developed to empower individuals to manage their resilience on an ongoing basis. The library is added to all the time.
AURA Personal Resilience Toolkit cards – a portable set of cards to support building a personal resilience strategy. Include simple reminder cards of the 5 dimensions of resilience, 40 practical tools and tactics for building resilience, an action planner template and more.
These are also a great tool for managers / coaches.
AURA’s 3-2-1 – we recognise habits are hard to change and despite having the best intentions to invest time in our own learning, this gets pushes down the priority list. To help with this, we send out a short weekly email with 3 practical tips, 2 tools and 1 challenge. This is totally optional and available once completed an AURA assessment.
For teams and managers
Practical action card game – employees play interactive card games to discover resilience practice tips. This is a great tool to be used as part of a team development session or meeting. The card pack includes instructions for a variety of games.
AURA ‘Feelings’ Cards – a fun card pack full of images that represent feelings associated with stress and resilience. These are really impactful when used within workshop activities and also in coaching conversations to help pinpoint feelings and emotions.
‘Resilience Manager’ competencies – based on real world research and evidence, we have identified the critical behaviours and skills for managing team resilience. They are described in simple and applicable language.
AURA ‘Coaching Toolkit’ cards – these are a practical tool to support managers in having resilience coaching conversations. Underpinned by the AURA Resilience Coaching Conversation model, the cards serve as an ‘in the moment’ aid, providing example language, powerful questions and behavioural tips to enable impactful conversations.
On a personal level, it is about having the skills and mindset to thrive and flourish during difficult times. As the positive psychologist Chris Peterson described it very simply, its about being able to ‘struggle well’. Resilience is not about letting difficulties slide off you like teflon – its about facing up to challenges and move through them, learning and growing along the way.
On an organisational level, its about the capacity to adapt positively to difficult situations, having the people, systems and support in place to respond quickly and ‘bend not break’.
Resilience is the ability to navigate challenges and grow stronger from the experience. In other words, bouncing back better.
Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval and suffering. They simply have the skills and tools to respond effectively and minimise the impact on their wellbeing. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness or letting difficult events slide off you like teflon, but demonstrating resilience includes working through emotional pain, struggling and saying no when needed.
Resilience is not a trampoline, where you’re down one moment and up the next. It’s more like climbing a mountain without a trail map. It takes time, strength, and help from people around you, and you’ll likely experience setbacks along the way. But eventually you reach the top and look back at how far you’ve come.
To a certain degree, stress is good as it energises us and uplifts our performance. It also brings teams together. However, undue stress or stress that accumulates over time without proper recovery can lead to burnout.
Resilience is the antidote to burnout.
On an individual level, resilience is important because it gives people the strength needed to process and overcome hardship. Those lacking resilience can easily get overwhelmed, often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms and can become withdrawn or burnt out. Resilient people tap into their strengths and support systems to overcome challenges and work through problems.
For teams and organisations, collective resilience enables the business to respond to and recover quickly from adverse situations, coming back stronger and faster than the competition. Research shows that resilience drives performance, engagement, retention, innovation and customer satisfaction as some examples.
More compelling for organisations is the cost of inaction. Having employees who are burning out, thinking rigidly, feeling anxious, overwhelmed and exhausted is not a recipe for productivity. Recent data from a Deloitte study in 2020 shows a significant rise in ‘presenteeism’ and estimates the cost of poor mental health to UK businesses £45 billion per year. Organisations must also consider the incredibly damaging impact on their brand of a suicide, rogue employee and other disastrous lapses in employee judgement that hit the headlines.
Senior leadership sponsorship and involvement. There needs to be visible endorsement right up to Board level.
- Reducing the stigma through awareness campaigns such as #This is me where people share personal stories of mental health challenges
- Training managers in having open conversations around sensitive or difficult issues – giving them practical tools and a language to initiate such discussions
- Confidential questionnaires like AURA are a safe way of surfacing issues. Implemented in the right way, many employees especially in Asian cultures feel more comfortable disclosing in this way as opposed to a direct conversation.