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Resilience involves responding positively to difficult and stressful situations, but as demands increase, people experience pressure. Some are more resilient and “bounce back” from negative emotional experiences. They benefit from a mindset that enables them to deal more effectively with setbacks and disappointments. Understanding key aspects of resilience helps clarify how positive attributes can be developed. New insights relating to stress management add to resilience training and improve resilience at work.
In the past, discussion relating to resilience has tended to focus on aspects of the individual’s personality. However, this is only part of the picture. Whilst inner resources are important, we also need to consider the context, and the demands people face in their work. Everyone is vulnerable to work pressure and it’s important that these risks are reduced to a minimum.
The UK Health and Safety Executive HSE have set out clear management standards, focused on five important issues that affect people’s well-being. A key part of the manager’s role is to minimize exposure to these pressures. The five areas identified by the HSE relate to work demands, individual control, positive relationships, role clarity, and consultation relating to change. If people are exposed to excessive work demands, or role requirements are not clear, or they have little opportunity to exercise choice and discretion (control) over how they work, they will start to experience pressure.
Positive work relationships, including support from others and involvement in discussing change, help create an enabling work environment. Ongoing dialogue between managers and team members contributes to positive outcomes.
Individual attributes associated with resilience include resourcefulness and self-confidence when faced with setbacks. A positive mindset is characterized by a willingness to learn and grow from both negative and positive experiences. This is helped when people have a clear sense of purpose and feel that activities meaningful. A setback may represent a disappointment, but it is also an opportunity to gain insight and develop a new approach. This process is also strengthened when people experience support and encouragement from others.
Resilience training helps people put things in context and also develop important personal attributes. They become more able to handle work pressure. Part of the process involves becoming more self-aware and reflective. This helps in identifying positive response options. The more effective mindset includes responsiveness to feedback and adjustment to new requirements. This is coupled with the self-awareness required to remain calm and respond in a professional manner.
Feedback, training and support from others help develop essential skills. This process also contributes to greater self-sufficiency, so people have the competence and confidence to experience control and make decisions. Meaning and a sense of shared purpose also contributes to a more optimistic outlook and greater persistence, which helps in overcoming challenges.
Resilience training is improved through the use of questionnaires that offer insight into mindset issues and explore management standards that contribute to an enabling environment. Most importantly, resilience builds on self-awareness, adaptability, sense of purpose, and support from others.