Blog 25.07.16

Resilience Boosters for You and Your Business

More Important Now Than Ever

The Brexit referendum and its ongoing aftershocks toppled many of the leaders and certainties that previously underpinned our systems and structures. Few of us have been unmoved by the experience, and very publicly the narrow margin of the vote has sparked protest and collective soul searching. Through social media mounting uneasiness has broadcast globally and intuitive, emotional responses have been widespread. Not surprisingly, positive counterpoints have been more muted.

At Vigilance positivity is something we promote. We are often tasked with managing complicated and taxing situations that are troubling others. In such circumstances avoiding knee jerk reactions while accentuating the positives is crucial. It can be helpful to slow the pace of our thinking from its rapid intuitive decision making to the more considered rational thought, so promoting positive and resilient problem solving.

Being Resilient

Being resilient requires practice, and is not always achievable. But in angsty post-Brexit Britain, it’s a useful skill to learn. Our digital interconnectedness may be partly responsible for reducing our ability to process failures and setbacks. We are used to opinions expressed publicly (often validated by social media likes) and spread at fibre-optic pace. Speculative comment can quickly garner support and prematurely attain the status of ‘fact’. Given our increasingly emotional and intuitive responses to big events, the fire is also stoked by a 24-hours media hungry for newsworthiness. Our critical faculties and sense of proportion can often be compromised making it harder to act, and react effectively.

Professor Richard Williams of the University of South Wales is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who defines emotional resilience as the ability to cope with or adapt to stressful situations or crises. Resilience, he holds, can be taught and developed by learning how to better relate to others and understand that managing any challenge big or small is simply the same process on a spectrum of adversity that takes in the trivial setback up to the major disaster.

Matt Hall, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the London Fire Brigade, has 32 years of military and FRS operational experience. “Resilience in organizations”, says Hall, “is key to delivering successful business continuity and maintaining consumer confidence through periods of change, challenge, adversity, threat or uncertainty. Resilient organizations consist of resilient individuals.”

Most of us are lucky enough not to live or work in environments where major jeopardy lurks or things can quite routinely go badly wrong. But some in society live, work or operate daily under adversity. Dr Suzanne Kobasa’s studies of such individuals defines them as high in ‘hardiness’. People who can put stressful circumstances into perspective and interpret them as less threatening; these optimistic appraisals reduce the stressful impact of experiences, making it less likely for them to negatively affect health.

Hardy or resilient organisations are the same, viewing difficulties in terms of challenge, not as paralyzing events. It means energies can be channeled into situations and events that can be controlled, rather than wasted on those that can’t be affected. This considered, pragmatic attitude to adverse situations often produces solutions with a better chance of success, but importantly it disallows the paralysis caused by fear of failure.

John Botterill of specialist secure information and communications SME C3IA Solutions is expert in developing operational resilience in corporate culture. He comments that resilience helps business to prosper when faced with change, whether a large-scale digital transformation or a strategic shock:

“In our digitally connected age the first action is often to draw on feelings and views of others, rather than developing informed views and thoughts ourselves. Unfortunately, many organisations only cover the basics of management by identifying mitigations to risk.  Those that take a further step to fully engage and develop their people by rehearsing change scenarios that have both ‘happy’ and ‘unhappy’ paths, and address the unique challenges presented by mass reactions to events on social media, will build a collective level of resilience that will be beneficial under challenging circumstances.”

Resilience boosters for you and your business:

  • ‘Accept Challenge’ – try to see crises and adversity as challenges to overcome; part of life not an insurmountable disaster, maybe an opportunity.
  • ‘Positive Stance’ – adopt a positive mentality focused on skills not flaws.
  • ‘Panic Slowly’ – situations change and evolve over time. Take stock and think clearly rather than reacting immediately to how things may first appear.
  • ‘Update your intelligence’ – you can only make good decisions if you have good intelligence so take some time to check and update what you think you know. This is especially important in the 24/7 media world we live in today.
  • ‘Make a decision’ – decision inertia happens when you have too much (or too little) information so feel you can’t decide one way or the other. A wrong decision made for the right reasons can be changed; decision paralysis guarantees failure
  • ‘Phone a Friend’ – even the most competent individuals can become overwhelmed by events. The old saying of two heads are better than one is often true. I have a group of trusted multi-agency colleagues on my speed dial for just such occasions.
  • ‘Be Aware’ – ensure you and your network are emotionally aware and can identify as a team what you are feeling and why?
  • ‘Be Optimistic’ – foster a balanced sense of optimism and perspective.
  • ‘Embrace learning opportunities’ – don’t fear failure, learn from mistakes instead, set self-improvement goals, acquire skills, seek challenge.
  • ‘You can’t fix everything’ – sometimes things just go wrong, and accepting you can’t always stop that goes a long way to let you approach challenge in a calm, pragmatic and balanced way.

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