Is your workforce lacking resilience?

Serial entrepreneur and ambassador for female empowerment Menaca Pothalingam's top tips on boosting resilience in the workplace.

Having experienced the realities of war, single parenthood and business ownership, I’ve encountered situations where my resilience has been tested.

During my career, I’ve personally experienced burnout and stress-related illness and know only too well how the pressures of work and life can quickly become insurmountable.

Thankfully, I was able to overcome these challenges. I have come across an alarming number of people who faced similar struggles. Drawing on my experiences, I now work to help organisations nurture a more resilient workforce, where I reiterate that is entirely possible to transform a victim mindset into a success mindset, if the right tools and strategies are applied.

Business isn’t always easy and there are going to be many challenges, stresses and pressures faced across a multitude of roles. We can’t eliminate these pressures entirely, and in fact some of these are actually positive and drive forward our motivation and productivity at work. What we can do is have a greater awareness of how these factors influence our mindset, our emotions and our wellbeing, and take steps to respond to workplace triggers in ways which promote a healthier, more focused outcome.

Understanding resilience

The definition of resilience by the ‘experts’ is the ability to bounce back to your previous state after facing some form of adversity. Gaining greater mental durability is an essential part of a modern workforce, given the fast-paced, 24/7 nature of many of today’s organisations.

Awareness of an event doesn’t necessarily lead to the outcome, as it is our individual reactions to these events which ultimately define the result. Taking greater responsibility for how you react, what drove you to respond this way and how a different approach could have mapped out a different outcome is essential to approaching future situations in a more constructive manner.

The digital curse

As technology continues to take over every facet of working life, the lines of communication are always open; emails can be checked and responded to at all times of day and night and even on holiday. Additional pressures such as Brexit and tough economic forecasts can lead many to fear rebuking the out of office demands being placed on them, in case this leads to job loss or a missed promotion. This then creates a vicious cycle and for many, the only way is down, to a place of poor mental health, resignation, sick leave, or worse.

Overcoming the problem

Accepting that there will be bumps in the road is the first step to overcoming the problem, as this shifts your attention to a place of resolution; how can I circumnavigate these stumbling blocks and achieve my desired outcome? Looking for the solution takes the focus away from the problem itself, and immediately promotes a more positive outlook.

Having a common purpose that all can understand and apply will quickly align the team so that they can all work towards the same goals. Looking for the bigger picture can help to put the current stressors into context and allow them to be viewed externally, and with less emotion.

Mistakes are a natural part of learning and we only get better by experiencing what does and doesn’t work. Cultures where mistakes are prohibited at all costs are neither realistic nor healthy. Understanding that poor judgement will occur from time to time and building in processes to identify these quickly will ensure that employees are given space to develop without preventing further complications.

Collaborative working is a buzzword of the moment, but it is rarely associated with building resilience. In fact, fostering a culture of community and collaboration enables teams to jointly identify challenges and setbacks, and work together to find solutions. This promotes greater learning across the whole team, boosts morale and improves employee relationships with their peers. It also shows that leaders trust their employees to resolve issues, giving them greater confidence to approach similar challenges in the future.

Boosting resilience in 10 steps:

  1. Accept – stop procrastinating or trying to apportion blame. Accepting the situation is the first step towards reaching a resolution
  2. Acknowledge – understand your position and its influence. Know what your role is and what you need to do to achieve the desired outcome
  3. Analyse – Take the situation as a learning opportunity and conduct a proper analysis of it to ensure it doesn’t happen again
  4. Assess – Evaluate your reactions to the situation in an objective manner. Remove emotions from the scenario and make sure you understand it clearly for what it is, not what you interpret it to be
  5. Attitude – Fight all temptations to resort to a victim mentality. Remain positive and avoid letting emotions get involved with practical decision-making
  6. Apply – Stop the same problems from recurring by changing processes and procedures immediately after the event
  7. Adapt: Don’t be afraid to challenge old ways of working if they are not delivering the required outcome
  8. Acquire: If you or your team are lacking the skills needed to improve outcomes, seek out training or recruit in the right people required to gain the results
  9. Act: Always act with intention and make sure your actions are realistic and achievable. Setting impossible targets will only fuel feelings of failure and low self-esteem
  10. Ask: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People are often worried that asking for help is a sign of failure or incapability, but in business, it is essential to pool resources and expertise to achieve the best possible outcome

In summary, developing a successful mindset involves not being afraid to make mistakes, being willing to rise to the challenges of seeking solutions collaboratively with others, accepting the lessons provided and implementing changes to avoid them recurring in the future. Fostering a culture of positivity is essential to creating a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, where everyone is a winner.

About the Author

Menaca Pothalingam is a serial entrepreneur, ambassador for women empowerment, author and resilience strategist. For more information visit

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