Building Resilience in times of Change


Resilience is being able to bounce back from setbacks and to keep going in the face of tough demands and difficult circumstances, including the enduring strength that builds from coping well with challenging or stressful events (Cooper, Flint-Taylor, Pearn – Building Resilience for Success) 

We have seen Resilience move from the perception that it is a remedy to overcome a weakness – with negative connotations - to the idea that it is now a concept that can help the strong become stronger. 

This change of our perception is often linked to the ideas of Positive Psychology particularly the work of Martin Seligman who carried out research on how to help employees cope with challenging work environments.  

So – two concepts  

  1. That Building Resilience can be seen as a strength-based approach 
  2. That Resilience can be learnt 

Why do we need to focus on Resilience now? 

We are currently in a time of huge and dramatic change. Our workplaces are different our social contact with people is different our everyday routine is different. We are creatures of habit and we take comfort from patterns and routines of behaving – this has been turned on its head.  

For many of us we have on occasion felt anxious, out of control and fearful of what the future holds for us and others.  

It is perhaps particularly timely to consider how we become more Resilient in order to cope with the challenges facing us but also how as leaders and managers we help others to become more resilient and cope with the changes that the future holds.

Resilient Organisations 

There is still some scepticism about Resilience training – that it might be a “trick” designed to put more pressure and work load on employees. However, the evidence suggests that Resilience linked to Well Being in the workplace can boost both individual and organisational growth, wellbeing and success. 

Leaders who employee tools and techniques for helping their teams grow and become more resilient have been shown to help others see change as an opportunity and remain optimistic in times of adversity 

I think that to understand resilience better we must look at the individual within the context of the organisation and this is where the role of the leader and the style of the leader comes in to play. 

From my experience of working with organisations in both the private and public sectors. The leaders who help and support their teams to become more resilient do the following:

  • Model the way 
  • Inspire a shared vision 
  • Challenge the process and look for positive change 
  • Enable others to have a voice and be pro-active 
  • Encourage and engage the heart in having a sense of purpose and belonging 

The successful leader finds a balance between Challenge and Support and don’t forget for most people they leave their manager not their job! 

Pamela Heneberry, The Professional Development Centre 

This blog is part of the Change Maker Blog series. The Change Maker programme is a series of blogs, podcasts and virtual learning sessions to help people and organisations to navigate through a time of unprecedented change. To find out how the Change Maker programme can help re-engage your teams, start the conversation with us or click here to find out more.