In January this year I took on a new leadership challenge; I became a qualified run leader with UK athletics, driven by my new-found passion for running and want to inspire others to take up the sport to improve general health and wellbeing. Endurance was amongst many topics we covered, and it got me thinking about resilience and people’s ability to endure a difficult situation without giving up and what state of mind you need to adapt and succeed in those situations.
There is a lot of narrative around mental toughness and its link to successful resilient businesses. No matter where you work, I am sure you have seen this play out; people who experience setbacks but can bounce back relatively unscathed stronger and better and learn from it, you may even have done this yourself.
In my experience as a HR leader, consultant, coach and mentor I am of the firm belief that with the right working environment most employees can demonstrate mental toughness; here are my top 3 tips to get the working environment right.
- Team work – working together towards the same common goal sounds like a cliché buts is absolutely right, remember teams carry out the essential tasks of a company, they generate ideas, deliver the work and solve problems. However, you must ensure you set a shared goal and vision that everyone buys into. I recall an MD I worked for telling the leadership team I was part of to “slow down you are all on the train but left me at the station” obviously implying we had not brought them with us on our journey to goal and without them our efforts would more than likely have been wasted. The best way to ensure the team work together supporting each other is to set the end goal but let the team plot the course for how they will reach it.
- Motivational Leadership – a quote I often see is “people leave managers not companies” it’s so true, I have done it. The significant difference between leaders and managers is people follow leaders whilst managers have people who work for them; often you must wear both these hats. To motivate people and build their mental toughness you must lead not manage; set the vison and expectations, improve people’s self-image and stretch them – within reason of course, help remove blockers to success and celebrate achievements.
- Health and Wellbeing – this sector seems to have flourished in the last few years. I like most HR professionals have a vast back catalogue of case work on this subject matter; one that does stand out is a dismissal appeal for drinking on duty; the dismissal itself was fair as you cannot under any circumstances be drunk in charge of heavy vehicles and plant; however, the way the line manager had handled the employees’ health and wellbeing left us with a challenge as we had fell short in our duty of care leading up to the incident. The line manager had previously been turning up at the employees home to check if absences were genuine, had not sought out HR advice nor offered occupational health support; when it was clear the employee had a problem with alcoholism which is a complex and multifaceted health issue. To effectively manage health and wellbeing introduce mental health first aiders, ensure you have an employee assistance and occupational health provider, have a robust HR process, ensure empathy and caring is at the core of organisational values, remove stressors and above all regularly ask people “how are you today?”.
I hope this was helpful if you would like to discuss consulting support to build resilience in your business please contact me directly.
Useful links and further reading
A theory of human motivation – A Maslow
Developing resilient organizations – D Strycharczyk & C Elvin
First break all the rules – M Buckingham