Five ways managers can build personal resilience amid the pandemic

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is currently slamming into regions across Canada, once again testing employers’ resilience in the face of mounting challenges.

But resilient managers can bounce forward out of adversity, stay focused and productive through constant change and continue to thrive when things are difficult. Resilience equips people to deal with uncertainty. It helps them seek to understand the situation without making judgments. Resilient people welcome diverse perspectives, embrace problem solving and choose to respond positively to change and challenges.

Resilience is about learning to keep one’s self recharged and grounded and ready to handle challenges, not just enduring or coping with life’s many challenges. Staying grounded is important for those who manage others. It’s a skill that can be learned and improved upon with intention and practice.

Read: Resilience: your 21st century suit of armour

It’s important for managers to develop their own resilience tool box so they can lead by example. Maintaining health, energy and focus are key to working successfully and motivating people. If managers constantly feel exhausted and overwhelmed, it can be difficult to lead a team and tough to accomplish tasks at work.

Here are five ways managers can develop personal resilience:

  • Engaging in self-care. Just like managers coach staff to take care of themselves, it’s important they model the same behaviour. Eating well, exercising, meditating, taking breaks and vacation time all help build resilience. So, too, does making time for personal priorities, like family and friends (likely via virtual meetups, of course, right now).
  • Knowing the signs of overload. Everyone reacts to pressure differently. Managers should get to know the signs of when resilience is low; things like sleep disturbances, irritability, a racing heart, abnormal aches and pains, difficulty concentrating or eating and drinking more than usual. Noticing these signs is the first step to taking action.

Read: Why employers should recognize, support and train middle managers

  • Eating lunch. It sounds simple, but leaving a workspace (even if it’s a living room couch) to eat a healthy lunch allows managers to recharge, take a break and return to their tasks refreshed and with new perspective. Skipping lunch is a no-no as this depletes resilience.
  • Taking breaks. Being intentional about stepping away for five or 10 minutes periodically throughout the day to breathe, walk and momentarily disconnect feeds resilience and makes managers more productive.
  • Talking about resiliency. Leaders should tell their team what they’re doing to nurture their own resilience. Managers can make it clear through their actions that they’re paying attention to their own well-being to build stronger resilience. After modelling healthy coping strategies, managers can then encourage their team to do the same.

Read: Pandemic blurring work-life lines a recipe for employee burnout

When managers develop personal strategies to build or maintain resilience during busy or challenging times, they’ll ultimately function more effectively in their role as a leader during the current coronavirus crisis, as well as in the years to come.