You can Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence : discover how to do it

You can Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence : discover how to do it

You can Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence : discover how to do it

Have you ever reacted to organizational change by rolling your eyes and quietly saying to yourself, “Here we go again”? Or by not so quietly telling others, “Haven’t we tried this before?

Changes at work can be emotionally intense, sparking confusion, fear, anxiety, frustration, and helplessness. Experts have even said that the experience of going through change at work can mimic that of people who are suffering from grief over the loss of a loved one. Because change can be so physically and emotionally draining, it often leads to burnout and puts into motion an insidious cycle that leads to even greater resistance to change.

No one wants to be an obstacle to change, instinctively resisting any new initiatives or efforts. It’s not good for you, your career, or your organization. Improving your adaptability, a critical emotional intelligence competency, is key to breaking this cycle. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned. In fact, in our work as coaches, it’s often a priority for our clients. They’re tired of feeling frustrated and angry about changes at work, and they want to be seen as adaptable rather than resistant.

Next time your organization introduces a big change, consider these four emotional intelligence strategies to help you embrace the change rather than brace for it:

Identify the source of your resistance. Understanding the underlying reasons for your resistance requires a high level of self-awareness. For example, if you’re resisting because you’re worried that the change will make you look incompetent, you can create a learning plan for the new skills you will need in order to be successful. Or, if you’re concerned that the change will interfere with your autonomy, you can ask the people leading the effort how you can be involved in the process. Even if you don’t like the direction the organization is moving, being involved in the implementation may help you regain a sense of control and reduce your urge to resist.

Question the basis of your emotional response. Our emotional reactions to change often reflect our interpretations – or “stories” – that we convince ourselves are true. In actuality, our stories are often subconscious and seldom in line with reality. Ask yourself: What is my primary emotion associated with this change? Is it fear, anger, frustration? Once you identify the emotion, ask what that’s about? What do I believe to be true that’s making me angry/fearful/frustrated? This type of questioning helps to illuminate the stories driving our emotions and influence our perceptions.

As an example, a senior executive in the transportation industry identified her intense emotional reaction as anger. As she continued to question the basis of her anger, she discovered an underlying story: she was powerless and a victim to the impending change initiative. With this new awareness she was able to separate her emotional reaction and “story” from the actual events. This allowed her to identify several options to take on new leadership responsibilities for a major aspect of the change initiative. With these new opportunities to take back her power, her mentality shifted from thinking that the changes were happening to her, to focusing on how she could take on a leadership role that would create new opportunities for both her career and the organization.

Own your part in the situation. It’s not always easy to fess up to the part we play in creating a negative situation. A self-aware person reflects on how their attitudes and behaviors contribute to their experience of the change. For example, let’s say that you’ve noticed yourself becoming increasingly and more immediately tense each time you hear of a new change. Practicing mindfulness will allow you to examine your feelings and how they are affecting your attitude. Any negativity or pessimism is going to impact your behavior, performance, and well-being (and not in a good way). By reflecting on how your initial reaction contributes to a negative chain of events, it’ll be easier to adjust your attitude to be more open to considering new perspectives, which will ultimately change the way you react to everything.

Turn up your positive outlook: Things may feel a little bleak when you don’t agree with a new change, but studies show that having a positive outlook can open us up to new possibilities and be more receptive to change. Asking yourself a few simple questions will help you think more optimistically. First, ask yourself Where are the opportunities with this change? And then, How will these opportunities help me and others? 

For example, one of our clients recently went through a major organizational change. Over the previous 18 months, he had led the turnaround and sale of a division for his former company and had just accepted a new role as President with a new firm. He knew this wasn’t something he would’ve been able to do a few years earlier. But he had worked hard to move from being a “problem solver” to an “opportunity finder.” He explained how our work together prepared him: “I was always playing defense, focusing on how to minimize our exposure or losses in any situation. As we began to shift my focus from how to minimize losses to find opportunities, everything changed. I shifted from playing defense to offense. I began to see opportunities that were invisible to me before. Now, it’s hard-wired into how I think.”

The ability to quickly and easily adapt to change is often a competitive advantage for a leader. Next time you feel yourself resisting, use the four approaches above to build momentum and psychological energy for you and others. Make the intentional choice not just to embrace change but to positively propel it forward.

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW-Kandi Wiens & Darin Rowell

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30 Ways to Build Workplace Resilience

30 Ways to Build Workplace Resilience

Originally published on www.resiliencei.com and reproduced with permission.
By 

Resilience in the workplace is a leading issue for boards, CEOs, and the People and Culture leadership.

The workplace drivers for resilience are clear:

  • People and teams in flow multiply productivity
  • Mental skills – specifically situation agility – are essential
  • Productivity requires emotional maturity and collaboration
  • People need support in wellbeing and lifestyle disciplines
  • Change and complexity require bounce and mental fitness
  • Solving digital overload and distraction are essential
  • Solutions for increasing anxiety and depression are urgent
  • Mental health is a lead safety concern

With over 20 years’ experience, our team has delivered resilience training and solutions to businesses, government, schools, competitive sports and entrepreneurs.

Here are 30 ways we have identified to build workplace resilience:

1. Start with the CEO and board.

Resilience is a strategic issue for all workplaces. There are critical risks if your people’s resilience fails and significant advantages to all aspects of human productivity when resilience is secured. When the CEO and board support and lead the initiative, employees are more confident in the approach.

2. Define resilience clearly.

Resilience is a learned ability, through practical skills, that enables our capacity to bounce in adversity, grow our master skills, connect with others and find flow in work. Having a common definition of resilience enables individuals and teams to build insight and activate the right response when required.

3. Frame resilience in the positive.

With the right skills adversity and challenge become a force for engagement, collaboration, innovation and organisational strength. Resilience is more than just bouncing back from challenges – it is a web of competencies that enable us to lead a safe, well and effective life.

4. Use resilience as a framework.

Integrate, align and simplify your people initiatives including safety, mental health, well-being, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, leadership and high performing teams. Fragmented programmes can cause confusion and apathy when teams are already feeling the pressure. Using a common framework builds consistency and reliability.

5. Socialise the idea.

Involve your people in dialogue around the concept of resilience and the benefits.

6. Create enthusiasm for action.

Invite speakers and encourage people to share stories and favourite examples of resilience in action.

7. Offer all staff a Resilience Diagnostic.

A confidential, voluntary and secure assessment is essential. Ensure that each participant receives an actionable and educational report.

8. Examine the company aggregate report.

While protecting individuals, the data can be aggregated to show where your risks and strengths lie. This will guide your solution.

9. Engage the team in an effective debrief.

It is essential that each participant has the opportunity to understand what the report means and how they can use it as a platform to drive their resilience building plan.

10. Plan targeted workshops.

From your company report define the key points of focus and engage the right team to train and support your teams.

11. Make digital training and support available.

Workshops, videos, practice tips, self-assessments and a simple research resource can be on every device.

12. Encourage people to share with family.

Resilience is always closely intertwined with resilience at home. Let your people share resources with family.

13. Invite family to a workshop.

This can be a great way to build community and make a real contribution to the families that support your people.

14. Train leaders to support resilience.

Leaders must understand the concepts, learn to walk-the-talk in their own behaviours and explicitly coach for resilience.

15. Leaders must understand how resilience fails.

Be sure to train your leaders and managers to recognise the signs of resilience failure and make sure they understand the basics of attention disorders, autism, anxiety and depression.

16. Be sure your EAP is engaged.

Let your EAP provider know what you are doing and make sure your people know that support is available.

17. Don’t rely on a workshop to solve resilience.

Resilience can only grow when people are encouraged to practice the skills. Have regular training and learning labs.

18. Integrate resilience into team behaviours.

Expect team managers to understand how bounce, tactical calm, personal mastery, empathy, focus and flow support a team’s work.

19. Create and maintain rhythm.

People are not computers. We work best in short bursts of intense activity with brief effective breaks. Make sure the office supports regular breaks and disciplined bursts of activity.

20. Provide goal setting and tracking.

Modern apps and wearables allow people to set goals and track progress. This can be a powerful force for constructive change.

21. Remove junk food and sugar drinks.

Provide healthy options.

22. Organise fresh fruit bowls for each office.

Not expensive and powerfully symbolic.

23. Bring natural light into the office.

Natural light, plants, greenery and views lift productivity.

24. Encourage walk and talk meetings.

This supports rhythm, movement and and a deeper form of communication.

25. Send out weekly tips on practical actions.

Make the practice tips bright fun and visible in public places.

26. Encourage social activities around resilience.

Make it fun, social and sometimes competitive.

27. Campaign for resilience over at least three years.

Repetition and mastery matter.

28. Reward people and teams that achieve.

Look out for those who demonstrate success and celebrate their story.

29. Keep your leaders visible and active.

When your people see leaders paying attention to and working on their own practices you gain momentum.

30. Repeat the Diagnostic.

We recommend that the diagnostic can be done twice yearly. Learn what is working and keep improving your strategic resilience.

Chief Resilience Officer

Chief Resilience Officer

Board and CEO take note. Resilience is a foundation for an organisation to survive and thrive. Organisational development in the last 25 years has focused on optimisation, speed and safety. The result is fragility. A fragile organisation suffers painful distress and malfunction in times of disruption.

Optimisation removes the redundancy necessary to bounce back from adversity. People are working at full pace when they are tired, distracted and overloaded. Speed removes reflection and innovation. People are racing through tasks and rarely stopping to reflect. Safety reduces risk and removes alertness and flexibility.

Our business environment has driven into disruptive change. Hundred year events strike every couple of years. Digitalisation is removing jobs and traditional skill-sets at breakneck speed. Competition is coming in from every angle. International conflict and migration are throwing communities into new orbits.

The mantras of optimisation, speed and safety are focused on control and stability. We must now adapt to radical disruption and turbulence. Resilience is the integrating solution. Resilience is far more than bounce back from adversity. It must include the ability to adapt with courage, to innovate and transform, and to retain and nurture strong connection and cooperation between people.

Preparing human capital and business process to meet the onslaught of disruptive turbulence requires a higher level of governance and executive action. This is the role of the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) who must report directly to the CEO and the board. Leading institutes in the practice of Resilience are very clear about the primary call for a CRO. The Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities has recently advocated this role for every city preparing to negotiate the future.

What the CRO must do:

  1. Understand how Resilience works in the complex system of organisational life
  2. Seek out and define the strategic scenarios or risk and opportunity
  3. Document and prepare for the likely disruptions and transformations required
  4. Design and coach organisational functions to be ready and resilient
  5. Relentlessly support and coach resilience building behaviours
  6. Guide the board and coach the CEO to ensure Resilience is a priority

Practically, we understand how a military commander or sports team coach is specifically tasked with the responsibility of developing capability, connection and readiness for the campaigns ahead. This is a good template for an organisation. The CRO is the organisational coach accountable to ensure the organisation is capable, connected and ready for the future.

What the CRO skill-set looks like:

  1. Deep thinker: resilience is multidisciplinary and complex and takes time to master
  2. Integrative leader: resilience has to work across silos and systems skilfully
  3. Coach and collaborator: execution requires hands-on engagement with teams
  4. Visionary: being resilient requires a long-term view presented with energy
  5. Powerful communicator: deep knowledge, clear thought and powerful messaging
  6. Effective coach and instructor in physical, emotional and cognitive resilience.

How to secure the Chief Resilience Officer:

The CRO role requires knowledge, maturity and experience. They must have good business knowledge and a capability to influence hard-nosed short-term cost and profit focus. They will also have to have a deep understanding of human, environmental, financial, and operational systems. Many of these skills will be within the organisation or can be provided by expert advisors but the CRO must be able to understand and connect these systems and perspectives.

Much of the skill-set exists in safety, human resources, technology and finance but these are too narrow and compliance based. The CRO must be a visionary, risk-taker and collaborator. This will be the hardest element to secure and manage. To find a clear thinker who is both entrepreneurial and deeply collaborative is a rare mix.

In time, disruptive turbulence will force the emergence of this role. Boards must begin the conversation immediately. CEO’s must begin to research and understand what resilience means to their organisation. Executive teams might begin with a handpicked team to bring together the required skills. Executive teams must seek out advice and industry-specific insights from multiple experts.

Smart universities will begin to bring this role into environmental, engineering, business and health education. In the meantime we might be able to borrow the skills of successful coaches and military commanders. This is a great opportunity for young aspiring business leaders to work towards. It is also a great opportunity for the older executives and consultants with a broad depth of experience.

We look forward to being a part of this conversation.