In partnership with the Academy of Executive Coaching, we recently carried out a survey on the demand for resilience in the workplace. With over 200 respondents we think the results are a shock. And so we wanted to share them with you on behalf of your own resilience and that of your clients.
To provide a frame for the results of the survey, we will use The Resilience Dynamic®:
Many of you have experienced this and its implications through the Resilience Engine services. Some of you may already be Resilience Engine practitioners.
The model explains firstly that resilience is your ability to adapt; indeed it’s a measure of your capacity for change. It shows a contiguous line of connecting between lower to higher levels of resilience, and it demonstrates how resilience shifts up and down, often according to context. Contained in the model is the idea of different resilience states of Fragmentation, Breakeven, right the way through to the zone where high performance is sustained, Breakthrough.
The last few years of The Resilience Engine work has highlighted that the majority of the working population sit around the Breakeven mark, sometimes at Coping, sometimes at Bounceback, and often oscillating between the two. This is the ‘ok’ state. Note at Coping, the only change that is possible is within a person’s existing comfort zone – so incremental changes are possible, but nothing transformative.
In the last few years, we have been discussing what seemed like a trend towards Coping, and indeed not Coping. Not coping impacts wellness. Sometimes seriously. Not coping may lead to depression and anxiety. There will be a performance drop. And the capacity for change is zilch. Not coping, and further, Fragmentation, are resilience levels that needs to be taken seriously.
The survey shows the following hard data as proof of that trend: a whopping 82% say that the demand for resilience is high, only 10% in total say its manageable.
Within that, 44% of people said the demand is high and rising.
The level is a shock to us. It’s worrying. If this data is an indication of a more general trend, we as coaches need to sit up and pay attention. Falling levels of resilience leads to health issues, both mental and physical. What can coaches do?
A. Straight off, do a reality check in your own head on your clients. Where are they in their resilience, their capacity for change? Do you have real evidence of them making the changes discussed in coaching for example? If so, you have data that their resilience is, at least sometimes, higher than coping. If there is no sign of actual change, you might consider their resilience levels. What data do you have on this? What does it tell you?
B. Adjust your expectations and indeed your intention for your client according to their resilience levels.
Often clients who want to make change, who may be committed to the goal, just don’t have the capacity to enact on this when we first start our work with them. If they increase their resilience – which needn’t take ages – this work can become possible.
Often the implications for coaches is to offer work on the client’s resilience as the bedrock for change, rather than the change itself.
C. Consider how to explore resilience and wellness as a topic. You need to pace this conversation according to the client’s resilience level, and offer in it a productive, co-productive way.
Walking coaching sessions are brilliant for this. This helps a client be wholly present in the coaching, in a light way. Fresh air, natural surroundings, not looking directly at the client. This helps land some of the reality of where a client is.
D. Consider how to help your client accept their current resilience levels. For anyone reading who is Gestalt trained, this is about connection with the full figure. It is incredible to witness the release when a client fully connects with actually what is going on. It’s not just relief, it’s a massive popping of perspective, so that they begin to see other ways of operating, other ways to tackle the situation. In accepting, their perspective widens.
That means you as the coach need to be comfortable in this work. It means being comfortable whilst your client is uncomfortable, whilst helping create a sense of safety together whilst you do this work.
E. Consider the top enablers of resilience and how you embed these you’re your practice:
- How do you help your clients Be Present?
- How do you help your clients increase their Energy?
- How do you help your clients Learn better? This is not about the ‘what’ of learning, but the ‘how’.
In all of this, as a coach or internal Organisational Development consultant, you need to consider your own resilience. And you need to consider how to extend your capabilities of how to support your clients’ resilience.
Author: Jenny Campbell, CEO Resilience Engine