Shawnee Love • June 13, 2019
Many clients lament about the challenges of managing the current workforce. They are frustrated by their employees’:
- Need for constant praise and handholding,
- Constant questioning of the status quo without knowledge or context (and the reduced productivity that results),
- Job hopping whenever the going gets tough (or they can make 25 cents more an hour), and
- Tears in the face of the mildest criticism, the enforcement of a rule (e.g., put your cell phone away) or the refusal of an ask (e.g., for a day off, to work from home, or bring a pet to work).
While no one is a perfect manager, it is difficult to manage when your employees perceive instructions or standards as unfair, and they don’t realize the extent of their incompetence. Frankly, our economy doesn’t help, because there are plenty of employers who will hire your incompetents and put up with the behaviours. (An approach I affectionately call “they can fog a mirror, they’re hired”.)
Unfortunately, no one is getting any better, and we certainly aren’t doing right by our future leaders by letting them bob along in the swamp of mediocrity.
After reflecting for a long time on these issues, I have come to the conclusion that the right way forward (albeit the harder road) is to build some resilience into our people. Now of course, it is ideal to hire those with resiliency and grit already embedded (E.g,, people who grew up and worked on farms, played competitive sports, practice martial arts, or competed at a high level in most any activity, etc.) but when we have run out of that supply, it’s time to grow our own.
I firmly believe that resiliency can be taught, but I recognize changing beliefs requires a lot more effort, time and consistency that simply changing a standard. At the same time, you will be growing people and preparing them for the future whether in your organization or elsewhere. And if you are a leader of people, that comes with the territory.
To that end, here are some of the key beliefs you need to live, model and embed into your organizations and your people to build up resiliency:
- You don’t get better sitting on the bench,
- You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (courtesy of Wayne Gretzky),
- Practice and mistakes are how we learn,
- Bravery isn’t the absence of fear. Its fearing and doing it anyway.
Resiliency is undermined by fear whether it be fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of looking silly or being embarrassed, etc. Resiliency is not about not having fear, but it is about persevering through it.
As a leader, encouraging people to take shots, recognizing those who try even if they fail, admiring those show up every day and try to do better even when life gets at them, these are things we can do to build our people up.
How you put them in practice in your organization depends on many factors, but embedding them is the only way to grow resilience among your people. At least that’s our take. We’d love to hear from you!