Managing stress is no less important or passive than managing people, managing budgets or managing a sales pipeline. Stress, and a person’s reaction to a stressful situation will vary greatly from one individual to another, and will change based on experience and active management.
If your mentee has requested support to help them with effective stress management you are likely to discuss resilience.
Resilience was once considered a soft skill that didn’t feature in the workplace, but as more research is undertaken into what makes an effective leader resilience is now a key consideration for everyone in a professional environment.
What does resilience mean?
The dictionary definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape”.
Resilient people adapt well to stressful conditions and life-changing situations. It doesn’t mean they don’t experience negativity or emotional stress but that they take action and have the right attitude to cope with the event, they practice resilience and adapt.
Resilience is an important part of effective working and ultimately, career progression. Everyone will experience times of high stress and tough situations. How people deal with these is very important for career and personal development.
What are the ten characteristics of resilient people?
1. Accept help when they need it
2. Adapt to change
3. Learn how to cope with setbacks and disappointments
4. Focus on finding ways to get around problems, rather than on the problems themselves
5. Make mistakes and then learn from them
6. Learn to accept constructive criticism
7. Make the most of their strengths
8. Recognise their weaknesses
9. Recover from failure and rejection
10. See the bigger picture in challenging situations
How can you advise your mentee to develop their stress management?
Practice - Resilience is a skill, which means it can be learnt.
Awareness - Resilience requires a person to be aware of how they come across to other people, (what people feel when they think of you and most importantly how you feel about your self?)
Controlling Emotion – How do emotions effect behaviour in situations? Discussing appropriate self-awareness will help your mentee. Do they take things to heart, or are they able to shrug off stressful situations?
Reputation - How a person responds to situations in their job will impact how people view them in the future
Job Satisfaction - Ultimately, how your mentee deals with situations will also make them happier in their job
How to Improve Resilience
Be decisive - Often people look to their manager for the answer and inherently struggle to be decisive. Building your mentee’s confidence to be decisive will help them manage stressful situations.
Headspace - Think about discussing that your mentee doesn’t have to be available all the time, if they need a moment to think and make the right decision do that (go for a walk around the block!)
Keep moving on - It’s really important to encourage your mentee to think about the issue or situation that is causing them stress, then try to stop thinking about it: Put it to bed and move on, don’t let it cloud their confidence in the future. Think of it as a learning experience.
Take risks - Take risks and own the responsibility: Success is often dependant on a person’s capacity to take risks and manage fear. Resilient behaviour requires us to take action in the face of this fear.
Escalate - Manage upwards when necessary
Manage emotion - Emotions are great to show that we care and are passionate about our jobs, but they can be dangerous if used as the main driving force for professional actions.
Reflect - Take time to look at the good and the bad afterwards, For example, ‘I made a fool of myself by crying in front of my team’ versus, ‘I am only human, and at least the team knows that I care and am comfortable with my emotions.’ It isn’t about pretending that everything is wonderful, it’s about developing a more balanced perspective of situations.
What might you do to improve the resilience of your employees?
Perhaps your mentee manages other people, and to them effective stress management is about supporting others to manage stress. Here are some examples of what they may do to support those they manage:
Focus on positives and give praise
Spot the triggers and effects of stress
Identify what contributes to burnout
Create an action plan for building physical, mental and emotional resilience
Other resources for further reading
Robertson Cooper’s free resilience report is a way to test resilience levels
Kathryn Meisner at TEDxYMCAAcademy talks about “The ABCs of resilience”
AXA PPP offers a free resource centre on resilience
Another useful questionnaire from HSE to assess managing stressful situations
The MenteeMe Team