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How to Build Mental Resilience in Your Team During a Crisis

Resilient, healthy employees are more productive and positive members of the workforce – and key to recovering from economic challenges. — Powered by Michael Page

Employees with greater resilience are more likely to have better mental health, leading to superior outcomes for both the company and the employee. With this in mind, leaders should focus on building up employees’ resilience, prioritising their mental and physical health, and encouraging healthy behaviours in the long term.

Resilience can be developed with the right practices. Here are five tips from Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of Naluri, on harnessing mental resilience for leaders to help their teams stay resilient through adversity.

1. Mentor and coach employees to succeed

Leaders should take on the role of mentors to help employees navigate their way through tough times. As Osman-Rani said, “We are three times as likely to succeed with a coach guiding us along.” As a mentor, you can encourage the team to communicate openly – create a safe space for your team to share their issues and motivations. Do regular check-ins with them to identify problems, set goals, provide feedback and offer solutions. Especially when employees are primarily working from home, and are likely to be less engaged, such regular mentorship can help create a stronger mentality in the team. 

2. Use stress (the good kind) to improve performance

While stress is often viewed negatively, positive stress, known as eustress, can help to improve performance. Leaders can create such eustress through delegating work assignments that are neither too simple, nor too challenging to complete. Taking on these assignments helps employees affirm their abilities and gives them confidence to face future tasks. 

Osman-Rani also said, “Be mindful though that they will need to know how to channel eustress into positive outcomes, so equip them with the right tools and skills.” He highlights the importance of giving employees the tools to deal with these projects beforehand, to equip them to succeed. 

When done right, stress can encourage feelings of satisfaction, fulfilment and excitement, contributing to positive mental health and greater resilience.

3. Develop crisis leadership traits

As a leader, possessing soft skills such as curiosity, composure and endurance will help you lead your teams through crises and be a role model of resilience.

Curiosity enables the leader to think of new possibilities in solving problems. It makes you conscious of your biases and avoid thinking only about past successes.

Maintaining composure allows you to evaluate challenging situations objectively and take decisive steps to lead the team through the crisis. This gives the team more stability and certainty.

Endurance as a leader is most essential, as “The challenging environment is likely to last for a while,” in Osmani’s words. Leaders must lead by example through showing fortitude in overcoming these long-term challenges.

4. Use language mindfully

The words we use are more important than many realise. Phrasing directives in a different way can either relieve stress or make it more acute. Using the correct language can foster teamwork and belonging, allowing employees to feel supported.

For example, questions that begin with the word “why” tend to come across as accusatory and demoralising. On the other hand, “how” questions such as “How can we prevent this from happening again?” encourage an empathetic and collaborative approach to problem-solving. Such mindful use of language creates an environment that develops positive mental well-being amongst employees.

5. Destigmatise mental health

While many organisations are adapting, support for mental health is not yet ubiquitous in the workplace. Employees do not hesitate to visit a doctor for physical ailments, but it is not quite the same for mental health. To remove this stigma, leaders can help to remind employees of anonymous programs and digital tools that can be accessed conveniently to seek help for mental health concerns.

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