An old Dutch saying reminds us that “Trust arrives on foot… but leaves on horseback” – and it turns out that in an organisation, “change” can hit levels of trust very hard …as employees worry about their futures and often become resistant to new processes or roles. Yet “resilience skills” can help to overcome this dilemma:
Here is a fascinating piece from the US business publication “Chief Learning Officer”: Changing How People Feel About Change “Resilience training techniques can improve engagement and help people overcome their fears about change.”
The article explains that a 2017 report from the American Psychological Association says that “Americans who reported recent or current change were almost three times more likely to say they don’t trust their employer and more than three times as likely to say they intend to seek employment outside the organization within the next year.”
Yet CEOs recognise that organisations need to change to grow or to compete… or even just to survive. So the challenge is how to introduce change without losing trust and how to make employees positive about such change.
The CLO article continues: “ It’s not actually change that people hate. It’s the way they respond to and feel about change. In fact, that negative change response is completely natural. People have been conditioned to fear change over thousands of years of evolution. For early humans, that fear response was a matter of survival in a dangerous world. While the threats of today’s workplace are different, people still have an automatic and negative response to anything that is out of the normal!.”
By learning resilience skills then employees can come to change with their “logical brain “ rather than their “emotional brain”.
CLO explains: “While the emotional brain is powerful and can respond quickly to undermine thinking, the logical brain is actually more powerful when people have developed resilience skills. It’s what helps them be rational and solve problems. They can use it exert control over the emotional brain; to identify the triggers of stress and rein in the natural, emotional response. Resilience skills can help people beat negativity bias.”
IMO: it make sense for any change management initiative to include a programme to boost resilience within the workforce at all levels.
This piece from The Guardian (Here) recounts a study carried out at the University of Cambridge – contrasting student who were given a self-help mindfulness course with those who were not. The report says: “Researchers found the mindfulness participants were a third less likely to score above the threshold commonly regarded as meriting mental health support. Even during the most stressful period of the year, summer exams, distress scores for the mindfulness group fell below their baseline levels, as measured at the start of the study. The students without mindfulness training became increasingly stressed as the academic year progressed.”
It appears that the impact of the mindfulness course was persistent and the only thing missing was some analysis on the academic performance across the two groups – beside exam stress, it would seems likely that the more mindful students, suffering less stress, would learn more effectively through their courses.
Some years ago I recall reading about some research where scientists scanned the brains of London Cabbies before and after they had done “the knowledge” – the scans clearly showed that they had somehow reorganised their brains so that there was more space allotted to storing the knowledge of all the streets in London and their connectivity – while previous functions had been moved elsewhere!
This week I was alerted to this Harvard University study using brain scans to showing how the brain is changed through an eight week mindfulness course. This may also explain how such a source seem to have a persisting effect on those who try it. (Published in: Harvard University Press and Journal of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging)
The Harvard Business Review reports on “A small but intriguing new survey by a pair of British consultants confirms the importance of resilience to business success…”
To be competitive most organisations face a future of almost perpetual change – and so having resilient employees is key. Yet this study shows how resilience can be easily sapped – especially when people are required to “manage difficult people”. Besides building up their resilience, one wonders if such “difficult employees” require some kind of counselling to understand their behaviours and to reduce their role in sapping resilience.
This morning The Times reported that Bristol University has had 10 student suicides over the last 3 years – and the BBC published the piece (Here ) to highlight “A Universities UK report found some students risked “slipping through the gaps” due to a lack of co-ordination between the NHS and universities.”
Rather than wonder about the “snowflake generation” and how they cope – it is clear that much more needs to be done to support students – to avoid harm, reduced drop-out rates and to help them to study better and to be able to deal with their exams.
Here are some finding from a Yougov poll (UK) in 2017:
- Over 1 in 4 (27%) of students report a Common Mental Disorder (CMD) higher than in whole pop – 19% male v 34% female
- Of these 77% have symptoms of depression and 75% have symptoms on anxiety (– about 50% have both)
- 6 in 10 students (63%) say they experience stress interfering with their daily life and performance
- Causes of stress: 77% “fear of failure; 71% course work; 39% employment prospects; 35% family, 23% relationships and 23% friends
- 31% of students say they are lonely
- At 16 years: 70% are regularly sad or anxious; 22% everyday (Barnardos)
- 16 years stress factors: school (83%); future (80%) (then home, bullying, weight) (Barnardos)
- FE Students: only 9% confident about their exams (PushOn/Ryman)
- FE Student stress factors: themselves (70%); teachers (68%); parents (39%) (PushOn/Ryman)
Helping students to avoid such problems and supporting them achieve better results is one of our objectives at Carina Sciences. Building resilience from mindfulness will help – but the colleges also need to invest in the pastoral care and emergency support to avoid tragic outcomes.