How often have you said, “Our people are our most important resource”?
Do you mean you truly understand that the success of your business depends on your people?
Let me show you some statistics to ram the point home.
A Harvard Business Review study on stress in the workplace shows that
• 78% comes from the effort of managing difficult relationships,
• 60% from personal criticism,
• 50% from requiring the employee to step outside their comfort zone.
And a survey by the Mental Health Foundation showed that nearly 17% of people suffering from stress, reported at least one sign of poor mental health in the past week, that affected their ability to function normally at work and life.
So, back to my original question, if your people are indeed your most important resource and you really know how much you depend on them for the success of your company then what are you prepared to do to enhance and protect their physical and psychological health?
If you don’t take this seriously, you will end up with a team or workforce that are unable to perform to the best of their ability. This means that just one of the costs your company will be experiencing is excessive levels of absenteeism or presenteeism (being at work but not really performing).
Now take out your smartphone and do some calculations. Scary, isn’t it?
The good news is that these statistics point the spotlight on some of the avoidable causes and in this article I’m offering some ideas about what you can do about them.
The message from trend watchers in 2018, is that companies will need to focus more on creating a supportive working environment that allows employees to thrive – and the key skill that will enable them to do so is resilience.
What is resilience?
When resilient people, metaphorically speaking, “fall down”, they find a way to, in Fred Astaire’s classic song, “pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again!”
Resilience has also been described as ‘ordinary magic performed by ordinary people’.
This means that resilient people tend to engage in prosocial behaviour – the opposite of antisocial behaviour which is passive-aggressive, bitching and blaming.
Instead, resilient people are more likely to cooperate, carry out additional tasks, turn up on time, support colleagues and share ideas.
What impact do you imagine this has on the overall wellbeing of your team, your company as a whole as well as your bottom line?
The good news is that resilience can be learned so I have a question for you.
Given the above, are you willing to do what it takes to foster the resilience of your people?
If you are, then here are some suggestions but first, a case study.
I worked with a client who had left a job where he’d been a highly successful television producer. A subsequent change in management led to him leave the company and go freelance.
However, he struggled to attract clients and told me he was beginning to panic.
I asked, “What do you do when you finish panicking?” He replied, “I panic some more.”
That’s when it dawned on me.
As an employee, his unbroken record of successes meant that there were no challenges or setbacks but, as a freelancer, he now needed to develop resilience which is essential to survive and thrive.
While working together, he learned the insights, tools and resources which enabled him to trust himself, and develop the positive skills and mindset he needed to function effectively.
He is now a highly successful freelancer.
How to develop your staff’s self-confidence and resilience
1. Improve relationships
While you don’t have to be everybody’s best friend, you need to foster a supportive environment where everybody feels a sense of belonging and self-worth. You do this by
• encouraging cooperation,
• ensuring your negative feedback is not excessively critical but intended to foster a learning experience (see below),
• making sure you acknowledge everybody’s successes and make that a learning experience too (see below),
• making sure you listen! Everybody, even you, needs to feel heard and understood.
2. Treat both setbacks and successes as learning experiences
Regularly evaluate the results of projects and specific activities. Ask, “What worked? What didn’t?”
This is how you enable your people to learn and grow without them feeling put down and criticised.
For example, if the issue is a missed deadline, the cause might have been poor planning, an unexpected setback, lack of cooperation from another colleague, department or supplier (in which case the employee might benefit from more productive communication skills) or even an unexpected dose of the flu.
You need to know 3 things before coming to a conclusion.
• Do they regularly miss deadlines or is this a one-off?
• Was whatever caused them to miss the deadline within or genuinely outside their control?
• Is there a gap of skill, knowledge or information that needs to be dealt with?
You need to know this before you go on to explore how to deal with the unexpected next time.
3. If you deal with employee mistakes in a critical and judgemental way they’re more likely to hide their mistakes wherever they can which will have damaging consequences for your department.
4. You will also do well to remember that you too sometimes make mistakes. Sharing this with the employee and what you learned from the experience will do 5 things.
• tell your employee that mistakes are opportunities to learn and get it right next time.
• generate trust,
• reduce stress,
• encourage your employee to approach you when they’re struggling instead of hiding their mistakes from you,
• reduce defensiveness and blame, and make it easier for them to listen to your feedback and suggestions.
Finally, unless there is a valid reason, don’t accept excuses and blaming others. If you do, they will not only NOT learn from the experience but, by not taking responsibility they will also learn to be helpless.
5. Follow up!
6. Employee successes require a different approach.
Praise the success. Ask them to describe how they made it happen.
This has 2 benefits.
• It reinforces good habits, strategies and tactics,
• It avoids the ‘impostor syndrome’ where the employee tends to believe that their successes were due to flukes rather than skill.
I’m Sue Plumtree, relationship coach.
If you want to know more about how to build your team’s resilience and reduce stress, here’s how you can find me: