The good news about resilience...

By Rachel Posaner, Manager, HSMC Knowledge & Evidence Service (KES)

Resilience and bouncebackability, the buzzwords of 2020!  Never has there been such a need to look after the mental wellbeing of both ourselves and those around us, at home and within the workplace. 

Whilst it is the responsibility of every manager to create a supportive working environment that not only facilitates resilience, during times of change and challenge, but also enables the ability to thrive, the good news is that it can done by simply asking yourself 4 questions…..

  1. How can I check in with my team?
  2. How can I facilitate growth?
  3. How can I show gratitude?
  4. How can I role model resilience myself?

1.    How can I check in with my team? 

Communicating, connecting, conversing, in essence it is all about reaching out regularly, but also genuinely. Whether it’s to individuals or to teams, through daily email check-ins or meetings via Zoom, Skype, Teams or on the phone, it’s all about creating that open door policy, where staff feel that they are can come to you through whatever medium they would fine most conducive and that when they do, they feel listened to. 

To engage in active listening we need to give staff our time. We need to ask open questions that initiate open and honest conversations.  A simple “How are you?” will do, and then we need to listen. To really listen. To listen with our eyes as well as with our ears, paying attention to not only what is being said to us, but also how they are saying it to us. What is their body language saying that their mouths might not be? For example, they may be shaking their head, gesturing with their hands or avoiding eye contact. 

However, enabling resilience is more than just being approachable, being available. It is about fostering mutual self-respect, it’s about offering out compassion, empathy and encouragement. It is about taking a genuine interest in our staff, being curious about them, their interests and their lives, both within and outside of work. It is about learning about their problems and their difficulties, and it is about us as mangers being as open and honest with them as we can be and supporting them, championing them and then putting into place measures, within organisational boundaries, that facilitate both a healthy mental state and a work-life balance that is in sync. This could be through advocating the University’s five Ways of Wellbeing or the wellbeing activities offered by the College, or, it could be through the facilitation of flexible or staggered working hours or by ensuring that emails or calls are not sent or received after offices hours or during the weekend. Simple steps, but steps that facilitate resilience at every level.

 2.    How can I facilitate growth within my team?

The advocacy of personal growth and development is a prerequisite to a resilient, happy and motivated workforce. We, as managers, can facilitate this growth by ensuring that staff have the resources that they need to do their jobs, by making their roles varied and interesting, by giving them autonomy within the confounds of their roles and by giving them a healthy amount of challenge and above all, a sense of purpose. 

In this respect promoting the learning and development opportunities throughout the University, encouraging individuals to continually enhance their skill sets and to be involved in voluntary initiatives as well as wider service developments and supporting their professional interests, outside of their substantive role, can all help to foster a sense of wellbeing at work. 

3.    How can I show gratitude? 

Creating an environment where people feel valued, feel recognised for the work that they do,  will inevitably have the knock on affect of creating an environment of greater positivity and resilience, especially during times of challenge and change. The regular practice of showing gratitude can be by simply saying “thank you”, or by offering some great feedback or by sending a small token of thanks. It can be also be shown through more formal recognition channels such as receiving a salary increment/one off payment or through nomination for a Diamond award.   

In the end, it is not just, about what you do to show gratitude that people value, in terms of the physical or financial rewards, but it is the fact that their contribution has been recognised. It is about how thanking someone makes them feel about themselves. After all, don’t we all want to feel appreciated?

 4.  How can I role model resilience myself?

The final ingredient needed to create a supportive environment for others, is the manager themselves and their ability to role model the behaviours that underpin their own physical and mental well-being.

For me, it is about delving into my “Mary Poppins Bag” of personal resilience, my own well-being toolkit that includes;

  • Reaching out to others such as my manager, other UoB colleagues, family and friends, as part of my own support network.
  • Facilitating a sense of community during the pandemic by running an HSMC WhatsApp group (along with retro adverts and quizzes!).
  • Getting involved in initiatives at departmental, School, College or wider University levels, that fall within my own areas of professional interest.
  • Being committed and passionate about the work that I do at the University, in feeling that what I do can make a difference.
  • Making time for myself by taking part in wellbeing activities such as the CoSS mindfulness sessions and the reading group.

…..and underpinning all of the above is my choice to adopt, as far as possible, a positive mental attitude. We may not be able to control everything that is going on around us, and 2020 has certainly demonstrated that, but what we can control is how we think. For me that is to think positively, after all, the aim is for our “…unique awesomeness and positive energy [to] inspire confidence in others” (anonymous)

Whatever 2021 throws our way, we are safe hands with resilience and a positive-mind set……


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