We talk to trainer, coach and author, Laurel Alexander, about the launch of her new Resilience Coaching Tool Kit and how it can help combat workplace stress …
What is resilience?
‘The old fashioned words used to be ‘stress management’. Resilience is much more profound. Back in the days of stress management training, it was more about deep breathing and thinking positive thoughts – it was something a bit more superficial. Resilience is about integrating mind, body and spirit – integrating different parts of your life as we don’t just operate in isolation. To become more resilient is to embrace our range of emotional and cognitive responses in an authentic and helpful way that enables a better quality of life.’
How can resilience help with work-related stress?
‘Someone might be stressed due to their workload - maybe people are being made redundant, or maybe one person is doing two people’s job, or being asked to do tasks that they don’t understand. While the workplace can be a nightmare for these people, teaching resilience is about using an integrated coping strategy and developing resilience across their life that will then impact on their working life.
‘It will help someone achieve confidence, a sense of self management and elements of control. Becoming resilient doesn’t mean that every time we get knocked down we bounce back like a tiger. Sometimes being resilient means lying there, thinking ‘I can’t cope, I need help’. And then being able to ask for that help.
‘Becoming resilient can be especially useful for men. Broadly speaking a man’s identity may be more tied up with work than a woman’s. Due to today’s culture men in particular may have an issue about not wanting to be perceived as weak.’
How can teaching resilience help to tackle the stigma attached to mental health at work?
‘Someone may have a fear that if they went to their line manager, they might be seen as not coping and this could affect their promotional chances. But resilience isn’t just about teaching staff in a hierarchical way from top to bottom. If you imagine a spider’s web then all the team members are becoming more resilient in themselves and that ripples out to everyone. You could have champions of resilience rather than managers teaching resilience. It’s about making resilience an acceptable part of the workplace. Resilience shouldn’t be seen as something as odd, extra or bolted on. It should be seen as the norm.’
How best would you implement resilience coaching at work?
‘It’s the decision makers at the top that need to be educated about resilience. Some managers or leaders think that resilience is a tick box – something to go through and that doesn’t need to be followed up on. There is also the danger of focusing on resilience creating a more effective and more productive workforce with focus on the business rather than the workforce – who are at the end of the day – the business.’
What one lesson would you like readers to take away from the resilience coaching toolkit?
‘It’s possible to change. One of the problems about not being resilient is that people are unwilling to change, that can lead to being stuck and feeling powerless and believing you’re a victim. But with resilience people can believe that change is possible which brings a feeling of empowerment.’
What’s the best thing about your resilience coaching tool kit?
‘The Resilience coaching tool kit is flexible. And it’s full of activities. Coaching is about facilitating someone’s exploration of their goals. The Resilience Coaching tool kit can be used with individuals or groups and can be used to create unique mini workshops. You can dip in and out of it.’
Why is the Resilience Coaching tool kit needed right now?
‘Resilience gives us tools for self-management in times of uncertainty, austerity and change. Becoming resilient doesn’t mean ‘I can cope and I don’t need help’. It’s about being able to bounce back when life hits you round the face like a wet kipper. Resilience helps manage us to manage change in life areas such as parenting, work, personal relationships, aging, financials and family.’