Do you bounce back from career disappointments, setbacks and frustrations relatively unscathed? Or, are you still angry about the “Meets Expectations” rating on your performance appraisal three managers ago? Resiliency is one of the most critical success factors to develop as you spend time in the workforce. Being resilient is important for workers starting out as they face their initial disappointments of not getting the job they preferred or experiencing their first layoff. As your career progresses, the stakes get higher, acceptable job options become more limited and the idea of bouncing back and landing on your feet is crucial. Resilience is a learned trait. Some of us may be born with a more positive outlook on life, a more bubbly personality or openness to taking risk—resilience can be developed.
No one writes or discusses the fact that work is a brutal experience for many employees. Like the school years that preceded it---work has a hierarchy, in-crowds and cliques, bullies and sometimes a bully-boss; workplaces have class clowns, prom queens and teacher’s pets. The special needs employees are mainstreamed into your workplace—and you could be working for or next to someone with very real emotional or mental issues. All of these personalities are made more complicated by having four generations in the work place for the first time in history! Does it make you feel better about your situation, knowing that no one taught your manager how to lead a multi-generational workforce? The key to surviving this potential madness is RESILIENCY.
Think of it this way, a well-inflated ball will bounce when it encounters resistance or a hard surface. So, your first order of business is to find an appropriate level of self-confidence, belief in your abilities, knowledge of your intrinsic goodness/worth and remembering that you matter. Pump up your self-worth by thinking about the obstacles and challenges that appeared insurmountable and you have already overcome. This isn’t your first job or the first setback you’ve encountered. You’ve managed tough times before probably personally and professionally. I was recently at a mall in Dallas and a billboard showed a well-dressed shopper wearing lots of bling (aka jewelry) and the caption read, “Of course it’s Flashy, this IS Dallas!” That is called swagger. While rebuilding your confidence, remember what happens when the ball over-inflates!
I have known people enduring terrible situations at work while they looked for a new opportunity. When I ask how they survived their passive/aggressive boss or harsh treatment by co-workers all of them have mentioned strong relationships and interests away from work. Whether it is being involved in your children or grandchildren’s activities, volunteering for an organization you are passionate about or doing activities with your family that bring you joy; don’t make your life about work. If you do, you are setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment. Reaching out to others outside your workplace so you are not constantly focused on the situation is a critical step in building resilience. Seeking professional help through a therapist to build problem-solving skills and gain perspective is also an option. Therapists also provide an objective sounding board to the situation. Counseling services are confidential and often free through an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or the cost of a co-pay through medical insurance.
It is also important to exercise adaptability and flexibility in building your resilience skills. Personal change management skills work together creating resilience as a core of our emotional intelligence. Researchers report empathy, compassion and self-awareness are attributes of resilient people. These are also components of emotional intelligence. In today’s challenging work environment change is the only constant. Resilience is the only answer. One of the greatest benefits of developing resilience is that it is a skill you can model for the children in your life because as we all know, these are even stressful times for kids.