Director of Consulting A&DC
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Is resilience the X Factor for your organisation?

7th Dec 2012
Director of Consulting A&DC
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At this time of year, the nights are drawing in, the heating’s on, and we know it’ll soon be Christmas because The X Factor is near its end. Love it or hate it, it can be difficult to escape The X Factor hype (no matter how much you might try!). But, believe it or not, reality shows such as this can actually teach valuable lessons for your organisation. 

When it comes to looking at an individual’s key attributes, for instance, The X Factor provides us with a whole mix of personalities throughout the series. With the acts that have made it to this stage in the competition, we can see how much they’ve grown over the weeks, in a similar way to how your employees develop within your company. Fundamental traits such as resilience have been enhanced, and each of a&dc’s key components of resilience is just as significant for The X Factor contestants as it is for your employees.

From the very first audition, each individual taking part in the show has a reason for being there; they have both short term and long term goals. Their short term goal, for instance, may simply be to get through the song without forgetting the words, or making it to the next stage in the competition. Their long term goal, on the other hand, may be to sell records, or be as big as their favourite artist (and we know that these aims are unrealistic for many of the contestants in the audition stages!)

Having goals helps individuals to keep any setbacks in perspective. It’s important to recognise that things will get in their way, and they may receive criticisms from the judges or from a boss, but they are just part of a journey to achieving the desired outcomes. This characteristic of resilience is purposeful direction, and your employees will benefit by looking to the future and focusing on an end goal.

As well as being focused on their aims, it’s also important for employees and contestants to keep calm under pressure. In a difficult market, both you and your workforce are likely to experience stressful situations and come under increased pressure, so it’s valuable to develop emotion regulation. Likewise, on The X Factor, singing to a live audience is stressful enough, but when there’s the added pressure of the ‘sing off’ to avoid being sent home, it’s even more important to remain in control.

In order to impress The X Factor judges, the acts need to show that they’re able to improve each week and that they’re not just a one trick pony. Contestants really need to push themselves, and enter out of their comfort zone, which would be easier for them if they could develop challenge orientation. When an individual enjoys challenging experiences, and perceives testing situations as opportunities to learn and develop, it can really help them thrive. This is just as important for your organisation – the recession has undoubtedly created greater challenges, and both you and your staff need to ensure that you’re not phased by this.

Adaptability is key when it comes to coping with any changes, and a resilient employee should be able to alter their behaviour in response to changing circumstances and find different ways of achieving their objectives if obstacles get in their way. Similarly, it’s important for contestants to bounce back from any negative comments. The X Factor judges are famous for speaking their mind – some giving harsher criticisms than others – and it’s important to view them as constructive criticisms to help aid further development.

Ultimately, the key thing is for both employees and contestants to believe in themselves. The shy and nervous acts often win the public affection, but realistically they have to have self belief and optimism in order to excel in the long term and stay positive despite any setbacks. Employers also need to have confidence in their ability to address problems and obstacles that they encounter. Strong self-belief means that they will be more willing to tackle problems head on and persist with them even when things get difficult.

Linked to this is ingenuity – both contestants and employees need to perceive that they are capable of finding solutions to problems that they encounter. At the same time though, they should recognise the importance of support seeking and ask others for help. This is why The X Factor finalists have mentors that can relate to the experiences, and many organisations have a buddying scheme for similar reasons. More senior employees can offer useful advice for new recruits, helping them to grow and develop within your company.

So if you watch The X Factor final this weekend or see the headlines in the papers, remember that there’s more to it than simply a singing contest. Each act has developed characteristics of resilience, and you, your employees and your company as a whole would benefit from doing the same. 

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