There’s a word that’s crept into the language of management. It’s only been in recent times. I’m not sure if the word has always been there and we haven’t needed to use it, or we just ignored it, or it really is new.
Either way, the fact that it’s on-the-up and you hear it all the time, is nothing to be proud of.
The fact that it’s part of the every-day, the fact there are endless conferences about it and the fact I’m writing about it, is nothing to be proud of.
I’m talking about resilience.
I’m told, we are supposed to be creating a resilient workforce. We need resilience strategies. Employers have a duty of care to tackle resilience which, in plain English is; the cumulative impact of the psychological effects of mounting stress.
Call me old fashioned but wouldn’t it be better if we sorted out the causes of all this angst, in the first place?
Long hours, rota gaps, workload, impossible regulation, poor training, bullying, clunky systems, targets, deadlines, hostility… shall I go on?
Resilience comes when you’ve got mates to talk to, when you can admit stuff simply can’t be done.
• When you’ve got a life an interest outside work and don’t feel impelled to take work home.
• When you know you’re not a perfectionist but you’ll give anything a damned good try.
• When you can sleep, don’t scoff junk and…
• When you learn to say, no.
But… when you feel the need to turn your desk into a barricade, feel hapless and have no control… it’s time to take stock.
All of this has one root-cause; an unforgivably bad employer.
It’s not enough to send people on resilience courses. The answer, of course, is to look at how the organisation is being run.
• Are goals realistic, achievable and agreed by every one?
• Does management think rationally and reflect before making decisions?
• Is there time and space for people to achieve and deliver?
• Is management encouraging and creating a feeling of confidence and facing challenges together?
• Is personal time respected, breaks, shift patterns, is taking work home discouraged?
• How are colleges supported after traumatic events?
• Do bosses ask for feed-back?
• Is the workplace a source of social activity, friends and relationship building?
Studies of resilience nearly all lead to the same conclusion; social support is vital, isolation is a determinant of depression and saps resilience.
Organisations that talk about resilience should know there is something wrong with the organisation, management or leadership.
Like companies, that have slick complaints-departments, should know there is something wrong with their products or services.
Resilience, or the need for it, or the absence of it, comes with a smell. It tells me there is some stinkin’ thinkin’ in the organisation.
It comes to something when the BMJ have articles reminding employers, staff need to eat!
Good leaders don’t need to be told… they tune in…
The first place to start is sickness records; are the periods of absence short-term, do they overlap weekends, is there a seasonal link… look for the signs, the trends, the departments, staff groups.
Exit interviews; properly conducted, speak volumes.
Organisations are finding The Fab-O-Meter, can be a window on where the pressure points are.
Employers who talk ‘resilience’ have given up on running the place properly. They are dealing with the symptoms, not the causes.
Where is the organisation vulnerable? You have to know what you are dealing with.
We are squeezed into tormenting ourselves with Gordian questions:
‘… what is the worst that can happen; what’s the one thing I can do to stop it; what’s the best that can happen; what’s the one thing I can do to make it happen; what’s most likely to happen and is there one thing I can do to handle it.’
Of course, all workplaces have pressure but that does not mean burdens or intimidation, tension, distress or anxiety. Pressure can be opportunity and the pathway to excellence.
Challenge… not provocation.
Wellbeing is at the heart of resilience. It’s simple; looking after the people who work for you and the people you work with, understanding how to deal with life as it is and not how it should be.
Transparency, listening, asking, realism, perception, clarity, perspective, proportion, engagement…
.. how difficult is that?
By all accounts… very.
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Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.