To hell with resiliency

You’ve probably heard the word “resilience” thrown around frequently in the business world lately. Many companies stress the importance of having people who are resilient and have put a focus on building resiliency skills.

With the economic downturn, the accelerating pace of change and constantly evolving business practices, it makes sense. Resilience is defined mostly as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to adversity and keep going in the face of change. Essentially when life trips you up (or kicks you in the face) you get back up.

However, with this focus on resiliency, you have to start to ask if we are just trying to use a Band-Aid to cover up a larger issue.

While resiliency is no doubt a valuable quality in employees, should it be the end game of companies?

We shouldn’t want employees to have to use their resiliency skills. Have them in case of a crisis – yes. Need to use them on a regular basis – no.

Resiliency isn’t a never-ending spring employees can drink from to protect themselves. There is only so much it can do before employees run out of resiliency. Even the most optimistic, positive employees will eventually become drained, stressed and discouraged.

Do we really want ranks of employees who keep their heads down and just soldier forward because of what they have to deal with on a daily basis? Or do we want employees with a spring in their step and a positive outlook on their day?

The goal should be to go beyond companies that are merely resilient – that can get kicked repeatedly and still get back up. We should strive for companies that thrive instead.

We can build companies that invest in strong leaders to guide them through challenges and shield employees so they can concentrate on doing their best work. We can focus on training employees to be adept at seeing problems in advance so they can avoid them or prepare for them. We can build healthy cultures that are free from stressful office politics, damaging criticism, and difficult relationships. We can look into practices for positive work-life balance. We can focus on building companies that believe in the participation of their employees in important decisions so they aren’t frustrated and disengaged, but willing to collaborate for the good of everyone.

Yes, we need to be prepared to be knocked around once in a while, but the aim shouldn’t be to have employees step into the ring each day at work.

There’s hundreds of ways to be more than just resilient. Let’s start looking beyond it.