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Growth from decay

Are you creating a culture of employee resilience?


Organisations can actively build more resilient cultures by using a coaching approach to raise self-awareness and nurture greater employee resilience.

16th Sep 2022
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There can’t be many organisations that wouldn’t want to have employees who are consistently able to navigate change, adapt to challenging times and recover quickly from setbacks. 

Having a culture of employee resilience is something that benefits every organisation. And when it comes to taking tangible action to start building that culture, one of the most powerful ways to do so is through coaching. 

If an employee has low resilience, it can start to damage their wellbeing and harm their mental health

What does a resilient culture look like?

A resilient culture is made up of leaders who are equipped to guide their teams through difficult periods and times of upheaval. Those teams can maintain a positive mindset, helping them operate effectively and efficiently even during turbulent times.

And those teams are made up of employees who understand the importance of maintaining their emotional and physical wellbeing. They’re able to react in a considered way to setbacks; rather than feeling utterly overwhelmed by challenges and difficult situations, they find ways to work through them and keep moving forward.

Building a culture of resilience starts with your employees

But of course if your employees aren’t resilient, the likelihood of your entire organisational culture being resilient is pretty limited. If an employee has low resilience, it can start to damage their wellbeing and harm their mental health; if this is the case across many parts of an organisation, it can cause problems in all kinds of ways such as through reduced engagement, lower retention rates and decreasing productivity

Employee resilience builds organisational resilience

Organisations might not feel there’s much they can actually do to increase employees’ capacities to be resilient. But actually, there are various practical steps and solutions out there that organisations can use to help their employees develop greater resilience. And one of the most powerful ways is through the development of a coaching culture.

How can coaching build resilience?

Some people might generally be more resilient than others, but resilience is certainly not fixed. It grows from the way they respond to situations and how well they are equipped to handle the challenges they’re faced with.

After all, very few employees will find themselves in a position where they can avoid or completely change challenging circumstances. But through coaching conversations, they can start to understand the responses they have and work on ways to adjust and strengthen them.

When someone feels swamped and overwhelmed, their mindset can start shifting in a negative direction, clouding perceptions and creating a downward spiral

Reframing and shifting attention

By understanding how to reframe situations and manage reactions in a more positive way, thought processes start changing. Managers can use coaching conversations to help employees focus their attention increasingly towards the positive, growing both in-the-moment and longer term resilience by encouraging them to reassess how they handle difficult situations.

Rather than jumping to a default response of engaging in avoidance behaviours, coaching lets them work through issues in a balanced way, identifying what can and can’t be controlled by them, so they can then come up with actionable solutions. 

Managing mindsets

When someone feels swamped and overwhelmed, their mindset can start shifting in a negative direction, clouding perceptions and creating a downward spiral. By using coaching to reset beliefs about how to face up to challenges and problems, an employee moves from a mindset of ‘I can’t… there’s nothing I can do… it’s out of my control,’ to ‘there are some steps I can take to deal with/mitigate/adapt to this situation’.

As their self-belief in their overall capacity to cope grows, employees start managing their emotions more effectively. Other behaviours like journaling can build on this too, getting employees into the habit of recognising what they’re capable of and becoming more likely to explore a broader range of potential solutions.

Would your managers recognise the signs of depleted resilience levels?

Make sure your line managers are able to tune into behaviours that might indicate signs of depleted resilience or rising stress levels in their teams. Things to look out for can include changes in behaviour such as employees becoming less engaged with the people around them, frequently using more negative language or maybe reacting in more emotional ways, such as increased tiredness or even tearfulness.

By being able to spot some of the key signs, managers can then use coaching conversations to talk about wellbeing and support if an employee is struggling.

Are managers creating resilience challenges for others?

Another powerful way coaching can help though is to put the spotlight on the managers themselves - and their own behaviours. How self-aware are they? Do they have insights into how their own behaviours could impact those around them and affect their team’s resilience?

Building a resilient culture is not a quick fix that can be done over a short period of time

Quite often resilience is only discussed in terms of people needing to develop more of it – but coaching asks everyone to reflect on how their own behaviours and actions could be depleting the resilience levels of those around them too.

Initiate the conversation about how organisations can help

Building a resilient culture is not a quick fix that can be done over a short period of time. But it needs to start somewhere - and the small behavioural shifts that everyday coaching conversations nurture will enable it to move steadily in the right direction. 

Interested in this topic? Read Four ways to build resilience during a crisis.

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