30 Ways to Build Workplace Resilience

30 Ways to Build Workplace Resilience

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

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.

The Professional’s Pain

The Professional’s Pain

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

How to create a good and productive life

Professionals face the sharp edge of acceleration – productivity, technology and connection with meaningful work.  At the same time, they seek Eudaimonia (a good life). The pace has become overwhelming. How does one solve this paradox?

After 28 years working for Professional firms, here are some perspectives and solutions.


1. You are the elite operators of business

The 21st century professional is an elite business expert. Stacked with skills, driven by relentless targets and thrust into truly risky engagements, professional life has become tough. You can no longer rely on genes and intellect. You must master your biology (body, emotion and mind) and continually refine your skill to expert levels and beyond.

This takes training, coaching, courage and relentless discipline. You must professionalise your life, your family and your practice. There is no way back. Think. Act. Improve.


2. To accelerate you have to impose discipline and rhythm

As all elite performers discover, there is a required routine of life mastery. The key factors of high level fitness, daily contemplation, excellent sleep and smart nutrition must be built into your day. By the way, you have to stop the dumb stuff. For practical suggestions:

3. Learn from the elite operators of our time

Admiral Bill McRaven, Navy Seal and commander for 30 years has an inspirational speech at the University of Texas Commencement address. It’s worth a brief watch. Make your Bed is his book. Get curious about how people like Roger Federer keep going.

If you want to build this into your operating practice, your team and your leadership read Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The leadership lessons are very powerful and the applications to professional engagements transformative.


4. Reflect on singularity. The answer is innovation

As cities and organisations accelerate and grow in a super-linear (exponential) way, we are reaching finite time singularity. In a nutshell, that means things are going so fast, the only way to avoid collapse is innovation. The cycles of innovation are compressing. This is the pain you feel. It is a sense that the improvements you make are absorbed in a flash. To explore this idea and the consequences for sustainability read Scale by Geoffrey West.

On one hand, professional firms have become their own worst enemies. On the other, it is the place to be for meaningful work, excellence and a fulfilling career. You are the elite. The science and practice are well worked out. Show bounce, courage, connection and creativity.

The professional’s pain is the crucible of success.

Team Flow on the Water

Team Flow on the Water

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

6 Principles for team performance


The America’s Cup puts talent, technology, fitness and team flow in the spotlight. This is complex team performance. Perhaps, we might apply these lessons in the workplace.

At speeds over 70km per hour, surfing razor-like margins on space-age technology, the challenge to each team is intense. Mastering the new generation boats is a testing learning curve. Teams now complete races 100% on their foils. No doubt these teams are matching the challenge with masterful skills. By definition they are operating deep in the flow zone.

Error, whether random gusts or tiny misjudgement, is catastrophic. Watch Emirates Team NZ pitch at the start or Nathan Outteridge skidding into the drink. Success demands that the team, coordinate to match their skills moment by moment as the challenges present.

It is exhilarating to watch. These teams are adding to what we already know about high performing teams. Here are some lessons in team flow we might reflect upon.

1. Creative ferocity

The boats press the edge of technology. Multidisciplinary teams collaborate from around the world innovate, test and deliver. It does not stop there. Team NZ had to reconstruct a functional rig overnight after destroying two in one day. Imagine what Oracle must have done to go from 8:1 down to win the 2013 Cup?

2. Deliberate practice

Sailing these boats is super difficult. Notice how the sailing has improved – even in the two weeks of racing. Thousands of hours have gone into learning how to master hundreds of specific manoeuvres in every possible condition.

3. Relentless optimism

Someone must lose and there will always be setbacks. Notice how consistently calm, measured and upbeat the teams remain. During the catastrophic pitch of Team NZ, Burling was calmly taking care of the crew’s safety. How did Spithill maintain his confidence at 8:1 down in 2013?

4. Fit for purpose

The physical excellence of these teams is stunning. Fitness, nutrition, agility, rested and focused effort come together. The creative application of cycling to the grinding out of hydraulic pressure is a new innovation being assessed. Training disciplines are well locked down with expert support.

5. Team communication

Commentators noted the relative quiet of Team NZ against Artemis. While Artemis chatters and commands continuously, Team NZ says almost nothing – appearing to operate on intuition. Either way we see the Google and MIT conclusions of short burst dialogue. What I notice is intuitive synchronised movement.

6. Goal commitment

Put all of this together over a four year campaign.  Engineering, strategy, tactics, teamwork and a massive investment of capital and time.  The degree of commitment to an extended team performance is deep and relentless. And they keep coming back for more!

Good luck Emirates Team New Zealand. Bring on the team flow.

Etes-vous résilient ?

Etes-vous résilient ?

La résilience est la capacité, individuelle ou collective, de rebondir face à l’adversité. Elle est aussi essentielle dans les entreprises.

La résilience, voilà bien un concept à multiples facettes impliquant des facteurs physiques, émotionnels, cognitifs et spirituels. “C’est un ensemble de compétences qui permettent de cultiver l’énergie, gérer le stress, être connecté positivement à soi-même et aux autres, trouver du sens,…”, explique Alexia Michiels, associée du Resilience Institute Europe.

Présent aussi en Belgique, cet institut propose, via un outil en ligne, de réaliser pour un individu ou une équipe un rapport sur la résilience, basé sur une série de questions liées à la santé, la façon de réagir, ses angoisses, son empathie, sa concentration, son alignement des valeurs,… Celui-ci présente notamment un ratio de résilience qui montre le rapport entre les forces (les actifs qui sont : “esprit en mouvement” “entraîner son mental”, “engager ses émotions”, “stimuler sa vitalité” et “maîtriser son stress”) et les défis (les passifs : “confusion”, “désengagement”, “retrait”, “vulnérabilité”, “détresse” et “dépression”).

The future of leadership training

The future of leadership training

  1. The problem

HBR October 2016 article “Why Leadership Training Fails” by Beer, Finnstrom and Scrhrader poses a radical rethink on training. Organisations spent US$356 billion on training in 2015 with questionable returns. The implications are uncomfortable. We take it seriously. To serve our clients we have to work at this.

In a nutshell, training does not stick. People revert to what they have done in the past. The organisational context – the system – pushes them back. Their conclusion is:

  1. Senior executives must attend to organisational design – system change, and
  2. Link training to unit-by-unit, strategic initiatives that demand new behaviour

This research should send cold shivers down many spines. Intuitively, we know it is right. Yet the solution is complex and difficult work. Leaders and training professionals will duck for cover. The current approach to leadership training simply requires us to match an identified need with a suitable course. Once complete the “box is ticked” and we can move on with confidence.

We are kidding ourselves, wasting money and confusing people.

  1. Solutions start at the top

The CEO and executive team define the strategic goals of each business unit AND the new behaviours required. Business unit leaders have to own this, modelling these new behaviours themselves AND demanding these behaviours from others.

Imagine the resistance – passive and active – at the executive table? We think; “much easier to send difficult people to training to be fixed.”

We have only begun. New behaviours will be clunky, awkward and slow. Business, despite the endless clamour for change, transformation or creativity, rarely considers how to cultivate expertise in these new behaviours.

  1. Enter the science of expert performance

Let’s imagine we want to take an elite squash player and teach them to play top-level tennis. We start by moving them from squash to tennis court (system change). Next they have to learn the rules and process. Then on to the basic elements of a game – serving, volley, backhand, forehand, etc. Imagine how many times a grand slam champion has practiced a cross-court backhand? And this is before they get into a real game. Putting all of these “behaviours” into a game plan to win…? We are tired just thinking about it.

How easy it is under pressure for this athlete to revert to a squash behaviour?

Welcome to the world of deliberate practice – specific goals, focused repetition, expert coaching and feedback. Much of this practice is done way outside of the comfort zone. So demanding is the cultivation of new behaviours that these experts have elaborate support systems to ensure that they can survive the process.

Can this work in an organisation?

  1. What is required of us?
  • Fix the obvious

Organisational life is neither rational nor sustainable. In short, people are sleep deprived, unfit, anxious, overloaded, frustrated and cynical. If we are serious about leadership, transformation and success, there is low hanging fruit to gather. Courage is needed to create an organisational environment that demands people be at their best. We have to treat our people – leaders included – more like we would athletes or our children.

  • Leaders must step up

Great leadership is transformative. Bad leadership can destroy a business unit. There is too much variability. Some leaders are hopelessly overloaded, some just cruising on past success. Few leadership teams are deliberate in defining the exact behaviours required. As above, leaders must explicitly model the resilience, empathy, focus and creativity required of their teams. Leadership must be measured on how well their people demonstrate these behaviours.

  • Get serious about skill

The acceleration in the science and practice of elite performance has transformed sport and art. The 10,000-hour rule of specific, purposeful, deliberate and demanding practice has yet to hit the business world. We relegate training to a workshop or two over the year. What if we spent 10 years practicing to perfection a good coaching conversation; a team meeting; or client pitch? Methodological, long-term pursuit of excellence in the key behaviours  will define whether your business thrives or fades.

  • Support the heck out of people

Elite performers need proper support. Consider the All Blacks whose leadership is split three ways. Coaching of specific skills in each position, player wellbeing to secure optimal vitality and player logistics to get everyone to the right place in the right state. This may be the fastest growing job opportunity in the next 20 years. Successful organisations will need teams of experts to extract – through coaching in deliberate practice – the best from people.

  • Patience

Transformation takes time – strategy, structure, leadership focus, support systems and measurement. In short, we must move from the workshop to a multi-year adaptive programme that engages every leader and person in the team in the behaviour of excellence. It is not for everyone. It is inescapable for those organisations seeking greatness.

  • Relentless curiosity

Lot to study, practice, learn and adjust to. There are so many ways. We are at the beginning of the journey to master our wellbeing, our emotions and our minds.