Resilience – Live well, be well, perform well
Looking through my learning journal over the past six months, a common strand that leaps out in my work with individuals and teams is the theme of staying strong. It’s easy to deal with this on a practical level – top tips on being resilient; triggers that diminish our energy; problem solving, and so forth. This can be all productive, but is sometimes too superficial.
Whatever the sector we’re in, the workplace has put increasing demands on individuals and teams over the last eight years. This has been particularly in relation to the physical contract – workload, performance indicators, targets, contractual hours and so forth. All of this can be dealt with in practical ways such as setting boundaries, managing time better and so forth. On our training course, we take a close look at the fundamentals that keep us functioning well – rest, diet, activity, boundaries, negative behaviours that impede us and positive behaviours that keep us intact.
However, this is only half the picture. A significant part of the work, (or some might say the real work) is to explore the psychological contract. This does not have to take long, and nor should it be ‘heavy’. Through a few fundamental questions, teams and individuals can break through by achieving clarity about their vocation and why they are doing what they are doing. The best questions are about where we find meaning, connection and value. It is not indulgent to ask “Why am I doing this?” any more than it might be for a group to ask “Why are we having these meetings?” I would go further and suggest that if these kind of questions are not given some attention, then the most efficient, productive individual or team could still suffer ‘burn out’.
- To gain a clear understanding of who our customers are and our own core values
- To be able to achieve and maintain a customer focus through a practical understanding of client perspective and positive regard
- To review good practice principles and techniques when using email and telephone
- To be able to respond to a range of behaviours appropriately and effectively, and defuse potentially difficult situations
- To communicate clearly and with warmth to create a positive impression both verbally and in writing
- To define excellence in customer care and have opportunities to experience it and practise delivering it, with constructive feedback in a safe learning environment
What kind of person do I want to be at work?
What kind of team do we want to be known as?
What is the meaning of this phase of my working life?
What sense can I make for myself of what’s happening at work?
How can I become stronger as a person?
How can we become stronger as a team?
Tackling these questions takes leadership and courage. Stopping to ask such questions in the heat of pressing demands is to act counter-intuitively (‘there’s no time!’). Yet to do so from time to time can be refreshing and inspiring. Allow some space to think through one of those questions in supervision, appraisal or team meeting not least because good practice is about rising above the operational/managerial challenges and to ‘see over’ it all – the literal meaning of supervision. This is how to help ourselves and those around us think more deeply and fruitfully, tapping into what really motivates us.
If people are not encouraged to make sense of a particularly intense time at work, they are likely to become dispirited and then cynical. This can easily become more destructive than physical weariness. Once cynicism takes a hold, it is likely to develop into the root of many negative behaviours. Taking some time in a team meeting, or having one-to-one conversations to determine what is happening here at a deeper level, helps people to take back control, learn about themselves, achieve perspective and take responsibility, even where the odds may be stacked against them.