The path to more resilience in the company

Why resilience is becoming increasingly important in the new world of work

New Work Nov 29, 2023

In a working world that is becoming increasingly digital and volatile, it is more important than ever to be able to bounce back from challenging situations, but also to be adaptable. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances is known as resilience. In this interview, coach and author René Träder explains the role of resilience in the world of work. How can this ability be strengthened in individuals, teams and ultimately also in companies? What makes an organization resilient?

René, what does resilience mean?

Resilience comes from Latin and means "to bounce back" or "to rebound". The term primarily refers to stress or stressful situations. In German, we like to translate the term as "psychological resistance". I, on the other hand, describe resilience as the immune system of our psyche. We are familiar with the physical immune system, which is attacked by viruses and bacteria. The psychological immune system is attacked by everyday stress, crises, problems or even strokes of fate. The question is: how can we strengthen this immune system?

So, resilience is something individual?

We have all had different experiences during our lives. However, research has shown that there are certain aspects that we know are good for us. These are known as resilience factors. I have identified eight of these factors:

  1. Taking responsibility: this refers to an attitude towards life. It's about recognizing that we are the creators of our lives.
  2. Future-orientation: Everyone needs goals in life, ideas about how life should be to allow forward thinking.
  3. Acceptance: We have to learn to accept things, for example, being angry. If we don't accept things, then we live in a fantasy world and are unable to develop solutions.
  4. Solution-orientation: We should not only see problems and name them, but also think in terms of solutions, be innovative and break new ground.
  5. Optimism: Optimistic people tackle things. They are not skeptical or remain defensive, but see opportunities.
  6. Relationship skills: This means being able to approach other people, to integrate into a group in order to tackle challenges together.
  7. Self-efficacy: This is a kind of confidence in oneself. You have the conviction that you can change something through your knowledge or skills.
  8. Recovery: The biggest factor in illness is stress. When we do something about stress, we are doing something for our resilience. That is why it is important to allow yourself to relax regularly – even in good times.

You can work on these eight resilience factors for yourself, as an individual. However, they can also be applied to a team or organization.

How important is resilience for and in companies?

We know: Every change in a team or company always means excitement, uncertainty, and stress. This means that it is important not to be permanently in a transformation process.

René Träder, psychologist, author and trainer for resilience

It's not surprising that things change, but you can try to help shaping them.

Of course, the market, customer interests and the competition around companies are constantly changing. And then there is always the question: does our business idea still work? With the aforementioned resilience factors, you can ensure that your company remains stable and innovative. You have an eye for change and can deal with it constructively. The anticipation of the uncertainty of change is taken into account in resilience. This provides security. It's not surprising that things change, but you can try to help shaping them.

What role do leadership factors play?

On the one hand, it's about a manager looking after employees, strengthening their resilience, but also viewing the team as a resilient unit. Topics such as communication, conflict management and error culture play a role here: How do we work together as a team? Who gives feedback and when? How can we talk to each other as equals? How do we deal with mistakes? However, resilience must also be practiced by the manager in order to be able to act as a role model. This is about self-care, i.e. self-management in a resilient way.

Is resilience a core competence in times of New Work?

The more autonomous work becomes, the more resilience is needed. New Work is part of our new world of work. It has changed the way we work, for example by allowing more freedom and flexibility. I think we still have a lot to learn here: What works well for me? And what doesn’t? And that's where resilience plays an important role, because: The more unclear and flexible the working environment is, the more stressful it can be. New Work is not about how we manage to work flexibly – at home, on the road and at work. There must also be clear rules and structures here.

René Träder, psychologist, author and trainer for resilience

Every employee should see themselves as a shaper of the corporate culture and not just a thermometer.

What can you do as an individual to promote resilience in your company?

There are many things. One example is to recognize and communicate clearly: These are my boundaries, my needs. That way, you become a role model for your colleagues. Another example is feedback. Many people would like more feedback from their superiors. It is also a form of appreciation. I always advise people to start doing it themselves. Your boss probably hasn't received any feedback for a long time either. Every employee should see themselves as a shaper of the corporate culture and not just a thermometer.

Do you have three tips for more resilience?

My first tip is to take decisions. This can really strengthen our resilience because it allows us to get things off our to-do list. Whenever we add a new item to our list, whether professionally or privately, it simply takes energy. And this constant thinking back and forth weakens us. I think it's important to take breaks during the working day. In addition to the lunch break, there should also be a 10-minute break every 90 minutes or so. And both breaks should not take place sitting at a desk. I also think it's nice to ask yourself: What was good today? Everyday life is about training resilience with little things like that.

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