Resilience: A Leader’s Responsibility to Enable Healthy High Performance

Resilience and mental wellbeing are rapidly rising up the agenda, with leading organisations seeking to make employee wellbeing a cultural priority. A 2018 CIPD report suggests that investing in health and wellbeing increases employee morale and engagement, creates a more inclusive culture, and lowers sickness absence.

The 2020 Deloitte Monitor report highlights how one in six workers are experiencing a mental health problem at any one time; and stress, anxiety and depression are responsible for almost half of working days lost due to health issues.

It is time to move beyond mission statements and social impact programmes and put people back at the centre of business strategy. The business case is undeniable with an average ROI of £5 for every £1 spent on mental wellbeing initiatives, increasing to £11 for wellbeing initiatives proactively developing resilience (Deloitte Monitor Report 2020).

Social Distancing, not Emotional Distancing

When we take this research and place it against the backdrop of COVID-19, the business case becomes even more profound. Though leading and working remotely already existed before 2020, COVID-19 has accelerated its growth to a whole new level. This is a major cultural pivot for leaders and organisations and is having a significant impact on the resilience and wellbeing of many of their people.

Leading remotely can be challenging. Creating a climate of psychological safety and supporting wellbeing sounds great in theory, but how can you put this into practice? And how can you do it when connections and communications with your team are changing and becoming more complex?

Individuals, teams and organisations are missing the tactile, face-to-face connection we are accustomed to, we are losing a lot of what ‘connecting’ means to us. While we are losing the physical connection, leaders must compensate and double-down on social and emotional connection to foster the resilience and wellbeing of their teams.

A Culture of Healthy High-Performance

At KinchLyons, we use the Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing (Wraw), the only framework that is scientifically validated to measure resilience in the workplace. Wraw outlines real and tangible facets of resilience and wellbeing – Energy, Future Focus, Inner Drive, Flexible Thinking and Strong Relationships.

We recently held a panel discussion on this framework with senior leadership from AIB, PWC, Hubspot, GAA and Boston Scientific. There are some super soundbites from this discussion HERE.

As leaders and managers are rising to the challenge of leading their teams remotely, we’ve curated a guide of top tips to enable you to be accountable for your team’s resilience and wellbeing. Here’s how to maintain a culture of healthy high performance wherever you and your team are.

Energy – Sustaining and renewing physical energy to have the capacity to keep going through challenging times

  • Ensure you, and your team, schedule short refresher breaks to replenish and recharge.
  • Consider timing of meetings, schedule meetings for 25 rather than 30 minutes or 50 rather than 60 minutes to allow time for your team to pause and breathe between meetings.
  • Include your own break activities (e.g. exercise, rest, reading) in your diary and encourage your team to do the same)

Future Focus – Having a clear sense of purpose and direction to help to move forward without getting stuck or feeling held back

  • Set aside time for you and your team to reflect on your ‘Why’, the contribution each of you want to make, to encourage everyone to focus on the bigger picture.
  • Forward-plan for future deadlines and schedule activity to support a balanced workflow during this timeline.
  • Create regular check-ins to ensure everyone in the team is aligned and understands their role in contributing to the agreed goals.

Inner Drive – Sustaining self-belief when times get tough, displaying confidence, motivation and perseverance

  • Take time as a team to acknowledge your collective strengths and understand how these will support you to excel in your role.
  • Deliberately notice what is working well. At the end of each day, jot down up to three things that day that have gone well.
  • View any challenging aspects as an opportunity to learn and grow as a team. Ask yourselves ‘What did we learn from that? What might we do differently next time?’

Flexible Thinking – Having an open and optimistic mindset, enabling a positive and adaptive response to change and challenges.

  • Maintain an awareness of your team’s paradigm, or lens through which you view your role and your organisation.  Ask yourselves ‘What is a different way of viewing this?’
  • Invite key stakeholders to share how your team can continue to improve and add value in your role.
  • Notice what other teams or units are doing well and ask them to share how they do this to enable your team to learn from others.

Strong Relationships – Building open and trusting relationships, and being willing to call these for help and support if facing a challenge

  • Prioritise well-being by providing an opportunity to discuss it at the start of every 1:1 conversation.
  • To make time for personal, informal connections schedule meetings with no agenda, where to team is the agenda.
  • Schedule time for the team to come together to connect, even if there is no particular briefing or nothing new to share.

While we are all responsible for our personal mindsets, leaders are accountable for your organisation’s mindset.

Community, connection, reaching out to colleagues that you may never ever speak to face to face, is an opportunity.

Many of us are commuting less, spending less time doing unproductive office work. This is the time to build community, build your networks.

This can be through all the tech we know so well, but let’s think about expanding our language, the people we connect with, and be thoughtful about the depth of our conversations.

Be open. Be honest. Be clear. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel. Do it more, harder and better than you normally do.