How To Develop Resilience In Times Of Change

By Don Holley, Managing Director & Transformation Practice Lead

Something stressful happens at work. What do you do?

Do you:

  1. Stick your head in the sand and ignore the problem

  2. Take the bull by the horns and enjoy the ride

  3. Pull your hair out and complain to everyone who’ll listen

Stress and work are two peas in a pod. They go together like cheese and wine.

But have you noticed how some people seem to be able to cope with whatever change comes their way? Others, on the other hand, seem to find it really difficult to move outside their comfort zone…

What separates the two is resilience.

Resilience in a corporate context

Resilience is needed to deal with factors or events that cause stress. So it’s essential for coping with the challenges of work.

What characterises resilient people is that they move forward, deal with change, learn from challenges and emerge strengthened and even more resourceful.

Resilience is good for individuals and organisations.

Rod Warner, author of The Building Resilience Handbook, states there is significant value for organisations that enhance resilience in their workforce. He says resilient people:

  • experience overall more hope, optimism and positivity, so are better able to cope with job demands;

  • are best able to get through tough times at work and at home;

  • are more likely to learn new skills and knowledge when their existing set become outdated;

  • are less likely to become mentally or physically ill during stressful times;

  • turn adversity into a growth experience, and leverage it into new experiences and ways of working and living.

How to develop more resilience

Dr Alan Zimmerman suggests three strategies to build resilience:

  1. Recover

To regain a sense of composure, step back from your new situation for a period. This may mean time out for yourself through exercise or having coffee with someone who will listen to your concerns.

Aim to focus your thoughts on what choices you can make for yourself and, as Dr Zimmerman, says: “What you are willing to accept is what you get”.

  1. Refocus

Take a helicopter view of the change. Reflect on what has happened, why and what it might mean for the organisation and for you.

Identify what is causing your strong feelings. Ask yourself if this will still matter in a year’s time. You have an opportunity to change your mindset towards what is happening now.

In Monkey Business, researchers Wright, Hager and Tyink wrote, “When you change the way you see things, the things you see, change”.

  1. Regenerate

Change is stressful, so you need time to regenerate. Be kind to yourself by getting additional rest, eat well, and avoid overuse of alcohol. Spend more time with positive, encouraging colleagues and friends.

It may require addressing your own self-defeating behaviours. You will recognise your roadblocks in “that’s just the way I am” statements. Changing these habits requires you to be ready, willing and able to make the change stick. So seek support if appropriate.

In conclusion

Some people are naturally resilient. But if you’re not one of them, that’s no reason to despair. Resilience is a skill that can be developed.

And like anything, it takes practice. The more you train yourself to be resilient, the easier it will come. It’s about choosing one mindset over another. I choose to take this in my stride. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenging process, but it may just turn out to be extremely rewarding.

How is your mindset helping or hindering you in times of change?

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