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In the Face of Adversity: More Resilience at Work


In a recent survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, many employees indicated that they felt stuck in their present job. Only 39 percent said they had sufficient opportunities for internal career advancement, and just over half reported feeling valued at work. Only 43 percent of the employees surveyed said that recognition at work was based on fair and useful performance evaluations.

I talked in my last blog post about how the skills and attitudes of resilience might be used to change these results. Specifically, I pointed out how connecting with others at work, being an effective communicator and being able to assert oneself at the right times could make the work environment less stressful. I also discussed the importance of flexibility and being able to try new ways of solving problems at work. Change is inevitable and most things are temporary, not permanent. But when changes occur, they seldom have a pervasive effect, positive or negative, on our lives. Dealing with our frustration or anger by blaming ourselves or others for the problems created by change does not help.

Here are some of the other attitudes and skills of resilience that can help:

Your work should have value and purpose. And the purpose is hopefully more than just surviving and drawing a paycheck on Friday.

Your values and the values of the people that you work with and the organization you work for should match. If they don’t, it will often cause a level of tension and stress that will wear on you and your organization as time passes. Your mission and the mission of the organization should complement each other. If you cannot align these, then you should be looking for a job that is a better fit.

Deal with the strong feelings that you have about your work. If these are negative, acknowledge that and talk with someone you trust about how you feel and what you might do to change the situation. Don’t let things build up inside. Anger, in particular, is a toxic emotion. Find ways to manage your anger and help to change things in a positive way. But get it out. Don’t sit on it. If you can discharge some of the feelings that you have, you can think more clearly about work and how to negotiate the problems that are there.

Try to get involved in your organization in a positive way. Pro-action is usually better than reaction. If we are proactive, we usually feel we have more control than if we are reactive. In general, people who feel that they are in control of their lives are less likely to be depressed and unhappy.

Take care of yourself. Many organizations have wellness programs. Take advantage of these. Unfortunately, only about a third of employees do. Be a part of that growing trend.

Take care of others. In general, helping other people is a way of helping ourselves. It tends to build our own resilience. If you can do this at work, great. If you can’t, maybe you can get involved in some type of volunteer effort. These activities can add meaning and purpose to our lives.

And don’t forget about humor. Hopefully, you have a sense of humor. As the old saying goes, “Don’t take work too seriously. It’s just a job.”

Work is an important part of our lives, but it should not be our lives. Work-life balance means that we have a life outside of work. As another old saying goes, “In ten years, no one is going to remember that you worked that Saturday.” But your son or your daughter may remember that day as the day that they scored the winning run that you missed.

So in summary, your values and your organization’s values should complement each other. Take care of yourself. Get involved in a proactive way with your organization, effectively manage the strong feelings that come up at work, take care of others and keep a sense of humor. Maintaining work-life balance is making your organization a psychologically healthy place to be and is the responsibility of both the organization and the employee...you!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Ron Breazeale published on August 6, 2013 2:31 AM.

Teaming with Success was the previous entry in this blog.

I Agree, Bob Corlett: Ditch Those Engagement Projects is the next entry in this blog.

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