-By Dr. Cheri Rainey
This article was published by Forbes on July 11, 2023.
In today’s rapidly evolving workplace, resilience is a crucial skill that empowers individuals to navigate challenges, bounce back from setbacks and maintain high performance. Building resilience enhances your ability to adapt to change, but it also promotes well-being and encourages a positive work environment.
Resilience is not a fixed trait but a dynamic process that can be learned and developed. In fact, HBR research shows that resilience is not solely an individual characteristic but is also heavily enabled by strong relationships and networks. That being said, let’s explore practical habits for cultivating resilience in the workplace—the “R” in our Rainey Leadership Learning “REAAL” alignment strategy—equipping you with the tools to thrive amid adversity.
Develop a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is the foundation of resilience. Research has shown that challenges and failures are opportunities for growth and learning, not only for children but also for adults in the workplace. Adopting this mindset allows you to view setbacks as temporary and motivates you to persevere in the face of obstacles.
One of my favorite ways to evaluate resiliency traits and areas for improvement is by using the Harrison Assessment, a behavioral-based evaluation that embraces and recognizes that failure and mistakes are opportunities for learning, growth and even greater success. You can also nurture your emotional intelligence by seeking feedback from mentors, supervisors or colleagues and identifying areas for improvement.
Hold challenges as opportunities to expand your emotional intelligence, skill sets and knowledge base. Remember, skills can always be developed and setbacks are only stepping stones on the path to your success.
Practice Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills
Resilience involves solving problems effectively and making informed decisions under pressure. As Flexicrew puts it, “Having strong problem-solving skills speaks to our ability to look at problems comprehensively, break them down into pieces, and find practical solutions for them in a timely manner.” By taking time to evaluate each potential solution’s pros and cons, we can make a well-informed, well-thought-out decision regarding the issue at hand.
Flexicrew also mentions that “to become more resilient, we must learn to strengthen our problem-solving skills and better deal with obstacles we may face.” Gathering information, asking good, thoughtful questions and approaching problems as opportunities can help build resourcefulness and better problem-solving skills, consequently enhancing our resilience.
Resilience begins with taking care of yourself. Make self-care a priority to enhance your well-being and capacity to handle workplace pressures. Start by managing your boundaries. If you ever feel tempted to take on more projects, work longer hours or go beyond your role to help others, remember that consistently doing this can quickly lead to burnout, compassion fatigue or total withdrawal (shutdown).
Balancing professional responsibilities with personal life and values is crucial, but often much easier said than done. Learning to say “no” when necessary, delegate tasks and prioritize your workload can be difficult but is vital for your mental health. Additionally, prioritizing sufficient sleep, exercising regularly, maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in activities that bring you happiness and contentment build your reserves. When needed, those reserves help you reset and reframe in the face of adversity.
Despite the situation, remember that self-care is not selfish at all. Instead, it is an investment in your resilience, resourcefulness and productivity.
Set Realistic Goals And Reassess
Establishing realistic goals and continuously reassessing them can help prevent feelings of overwhelm and burnout. Begin by breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps and celebrate milestones along the way. Noticing the accomplishments of those small milestones can increase your feelings of productivity and satisfaction with your day-to-day tasks.
When things start to feel like they are kicking into overwhelm, it is your signal to reassess and restructure your goals. Take a look at your daily tasks, determine which ones take up more time than necessary, then reassess the structure of your schedule, prioritizing the most critical tasks first.
A favorite metaphor of mine that has helped me manage my time references a glass jar, rocks and sand. The gallon glass jar represents your monthly calendar, and the rocks represent important projects that will take up much of your time. The pebbles are things that arise that can be done quickly, delegated or postponed. Sand is a symbol of everything else that fills in between the rocks and the pebbles. And, finally, there is still room for water, which fills our time completely!
Always remember to put your rocks in the glass jar first—pre-block your time for the important projects. Leave some time for the smaller unexpected tasks and then, last thing, pour in the sand. Water will always fill up whatever time remains.
LEADERSHIP TIP: Communicate openly with teams and colleagues about workload and essential deadlines, ensuring expectations align with available resources and timeframes.
Practice Adaptability And Flexibility
Resilience enables us to have the energy to face stress and adversity with strength and clarity while continuing to flourish, even after we cross the finish line. The ability to adapt to be agile and change is a hallmark of resilience. It allows us to be faster and better at learning, and it orients us toward the opportunities ahead, not just the challenges.
Embrace a flexible mindset that allows you to adjust your approach when circumstances shift. Cultivate a willingness to explore new ideas, take on new challenges and actually reflect on the learning that occurred from different experiences. By being open to change, you can adapt swiftly and maintain momentum, even in uncertain times. By fostering adaptability and flexibility, organizations can promote innovation, enhance employee satisfaction and create a culture that embraces continuous growth and improvement.
Building resilience in the workplace is a transformative journey that empowers individuals to thrive, even in the face of adversity. By adopting a growth mindset, nurturing your emotional intelligence, fostering social connections, prioritizing self-care, managing expectations, honing problem-solving skills and embracing adaptability while seeking and learning from opportunities, you can cultivate resilience and excel in your professional endeavors.
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Dr. Cheri Rainey is the CEO/Founder of Rainey Leadership Learning, partnering with leaders to support the entire employee life cycle.