Resilience (Part 2)
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 Successful Supervisor, published by LifeSolutions .
Read Part 1
Performance is best grounded in the skillful management of energy. Focusing on strengths and resiliency enhances performance and productivity (less absenteeism, presenteeism, depression, anxiety, and fewer workers’ compensation claims). Studies reveal that employees who cultivate work‐life balance (engage in activities they enjoy, spend quality time with family and friends, and get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition) will perform better in the workplace. Additionally, when employees are encouraged to identify and play to their personal strengths, “doing what they do best,” their work performance improves. It makes sense to encourage employees to take care of themselves and to back up this encouragement with messages and policies that support work‐life balance. From a resilience perspective, management understands that people are not machines . . . they are complex human beings with unique skills, talents, motives, challenges, aspirations, and needs. Leadership recognizes that employees have an intrinsic desire for competency and mastery, relatedness, and autonomy. Leaders can help individual employees satisfy these needs, within company guidelines. The result is internally motivated employees. Employees who are only motivated externally (by reward, threat, or fear) may demonstrate a short‐term performance gain, but this is quickly followed by a drop in performance once the reward is achieved or the threat is removed.
What are some strategies managers can use to support resiliency, the development of strengths, and internal motivation?
Managers can ask themselves the following questions:
- Do my employees clearly understand the priorities in their day‐to‐day work? Gallup Poll research reveals that 40% of employees do not understand what is expected of them on a day‐to‐day basis. This lack of clarity impairs focus, leads to frustration and confusion about goals, and makes it difficult for the employee to apply his strengths to the task at hand. Make sure employees are clear about expectations and priorities.
- Does information flow freely within the work unit and are my employees able to effectively communicate with and get what they need from teams or people outside the work unit? Open communication, psychological safety, and the perception that others are helpful and supportive is vital.
- Do I help my staff identify their strengths and do I support them being able to apply them on a day‐to‐day basis? Higher performing companies focus on talent. They make sure they are providing the right opportunities and choices to staff based on the individual employee’s natural abilities, talents, and passions. It flows much easier and with much less resistance if you are channeling an employee’s energy into tasks they enjoy and are skilled at rather than attempting to force an employee in a direction not in line with his/her innate skills and interests. Some innovative companies are permitting employees to select what teams they wish to work on or what tasks they would like to take on. They recognize that an employee who is excited about the task at hand will be much more engaged and productive than the employee who is performing a task only “because I have to.” Of course, all of this must be balanced by the need to meet the organization’s established business goals.
- Am I the kind of manager who leads by inspiration? While it is not up to you to internally motivate your employees, it is your role to provide an environment that is psychologically safe, trusting, supportive, friendly, and positive. There is an old saying, “It’s not that good managers have better employees, it’s that they manage employees better.”
- Do I really mean it when I encourage employees to take care of themselves and maintain a good work‐life balance? Too often we “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk.” We tell employees to take care of themselves, but do not support their efforts to do so. Managers can encourage and support short work‐break intervals that allow employees to intersperse physical activities such as walking, stretching, or some other type of restorative activity.
- Do I utilize what my EAP and other resources have to offer and encourage staff to do so as well? There are resources available for staff support and education offering products that promote resiliency, optimism, and mindfulness. All of these can support your employee’s efforts to maintain wellness and balance.
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