Buckingham, who popularized the “strengths movement” 20 years ago, shared a study of 25,000 workers in 25 countries. It points to 10 items for measuring resilience—the ability to withstand challenges and to bounce back when they knock you down:
- I have all the freedom I need to decide how to get my work done.
- No matter what else is going on around me, I can stay focused on getting my work done.
- In the last week, I have felt excited to work every day.
- I always believe that things are going to work out for the best.
- My team leader tells me what I need to know before I need to know it.
- I trust my team leader.
- I am encouraged to take risks.
- Senior leaders are one step ahead of events.
- Senior leaders always do what they say they are going to do.
- I completely trust my company’s senior leaders.
Skills Each Person Needs to Build Resilience
In the 10-point list above, the first four address each individual employee. Buckingham says all people need the following skills to build resilience in the workplace:
Agency—This involves which parts of their world people can control. Every work schedule and every life has rhythms and routines, and it’s important to identify what you have power to establish for yourself.
Compartmentalization—Each life has different “lanes,” Buckingham notes, and some lanes might be experiencing challenges while others are seeing success and progress.
Strengths in work—People draw joys from different situations and tasks, and identifying your sources of invigoration helps you thrive. In fact, a Mayo Clinic study found that if just 20 percent of someone’s work life is fulfilling, then burnout goes way down and resilience goes way up. To discover your own work strengths, visit Buckingham’s website to take the “StandOut” assessment for free.
Skills That Team Leaders Need
Points five through seven on the 10-point list require these skills from leaders of teams and work groups:
Anticipatory communication—Team leaders should check in with each employee once a week for about 15 minutes, Buckingham says. During each “touch base” session, discuss the employee’s upcoming week’s priorities and how you can assist.
Psychological safety—This involves a willingness to let employees experiment and take risks. That’s especially key during times of challenge and change, Buckingham says, because that’s when organizations need to discover new ways of collaborating, communicating, and serving.
Skills That Senior Leaders Need
People atop an institution’s organizational charts are the focus of points eight through 10. Senior leaders must develop these two vital skills, according to Buckingham:
Vivid foresight—Because people fear the unknown, top leaders must paint a picture of what’s around the corner, including who you’ll serve and which organizational strengths will help you persevere.
Visible follow-through—Unless senior leaders follow through on promises and back up their words with actions, “resilience bleeds away,” Buckingham says. So if you have a top role, spotlight what you’re doing and provide evidence along the way.
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