Resilience at Work

More than Bouncing Back

We live in an uncharted phase of history.  Never before have organisations been as complex and demanding as they are today.  Leaders, managers and professionals face a bewildering array of new initiatives, best practice, improvement ideas and legal regulations... all in a context where we have to be as lean as possible and maximise the potential of every available resource.  If ever there was a time when resilience is key, it’s now.


Contemporary organisations are turning their minds towards matters concerning human capital, with issues such as engagement, harnessing commitment and talent optimisation featuring prominently in that thinking.  Devouring the time and energy of good people and then pressing the ‘ejector seat’ button when they finally burn out is short-termism and morally questionable.  Equipping people to not just cope, but to survive and thrive is now an issue that we must consider fully when determining the nature of our duty of care.


Resilience is often misunderstood as being a set of in-built personality characteristics that help people to cope or bounce back when problems occur.  There is often a belief that you either have resilience or you don’t, an attitude that implies that if you don’t have it, there isn't much you can do about it.  This passive and pessimistic perspective hides some important truths about resilience:


  1. Resilience is dynamic.  It is a state of mind, rather than an unchanging personality trait.
  2. Resilience levels can change dramatically when a variable in our environment shifts; a different line manager, a significant culture change or a piece of important work that is well-received or harshly criticised. It is not just about the person and their psychology.
  3. Resilience is often formed or deepened by events in our lives.  We make conscious and unconscious decisions when things get tough that can strengthen or diminish our resilience levels, positioning us for future events. People can often look back at exhausting, even tragic periods of their lives and conclude that they demonstrated more resilience than they ever thought possible.
  4. Resilience is strongly linked to work performance.  It is not a ‘nice to do’, but an essential component of individual and organisational success.


This more optimistic and accurate view of resilience is great for both organisations and individuals because it means we can evolve.  There are actions we can put into place to proactively and reactively build our capacity to manage challenges, disappointments and setbacks.



Introducing R@W Sustain












RW Learning is delighted to be at the forefront in bringing the Resilience at Work (RaW) methodology to the UK.  Designed by Australian Psychologist and Resilience Expert Kathryn McEwen, RaW helps people to understand the degree to which they are managing and utilising personal and interpersonal resources to build resilience.   RW Learning's UK Master Practitioner Paul Chudleigh and Expert Coach Ian Rothwell support individuals and groups in developing practical and effective resilience-building plans.  As a result each individual’s plan takes account of the following factors, which are at the heart of effective resilience:


      Promoting personal health

      Developing balanced thinking styles

      Managing unhelpful emotions

      Using interpersonal relationships and resources

      Applying strengths, values and purpose

      Creating performance-enhancing work/life patterns


"I recently spent some time talking to a young graduate in the professional services industry.  She had studied for years and landed what seemed like a great job opportunity.  Three years later her health is suffering, her enthusiasm has changed to a tired resignation and her psychological contract has been fractured.  She is now actively looking for new jobs to take her away from the toxic and dispiriting environment that talks about appreciation, but never shows it.  It’s an organisation that pays no practical attention to resilience and does nothing to embed a resilient culture.  We must learn to do better than simply accept ‘barely tolerable’ and ‘overwhelmed’ as natural and unavoidable organisational states.  We owe it to ourselves and our colleagues."



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