Maintenance & Operations

'Resilience' or 'Recovery'

Successfully overcoming and coping with challenges and difficulties.

Steve Maraboil tells us that life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we simply get stronger and more resilient.

Being resilient, in the face of adversity, can be the difference between survival and merely “hanging in there.” Business cultures are attempting to maintain calm while overcoming challenges and difficulties present in the workplace that adversely affect productivity, relationships, skills and climate.

Resilience is simply an acquired, or learned, necessary survival ability. We’ve been introduced to the phenomenon of identifying an, “I’ve had enough; I’m done” mentality to some characteristic of “hanging in there.” Resilience may be a common or not-so-common technique, but it is necessary in the workplace.

Resilience is simply Recovery — 1) challenging, difficult situations; 2) a hopeless, desperate situation; 3) grave or dangerous situations; or 4) critically stressful, emotional situations. All of which are common in most office environments where we can spend as much as 75 percent of our waking hours.

Regardless of the nametag you’re wearing, the name on the door, the size of the paycheck, etc., everyone experiences adversity and deals with serious challenges. Struggles (whether personal or professional) are fundamentally common.

At work, crisis strategies require leadership, and are driven by action and compassion. Organizationally, a group will survive the impact of an incident, but trauma can affect the whole for many months following. Some organizations utilize programs that enable its employees to receive individual and group needs, practical support and follow-up initiatives.

Resilience is essential. Everyone feels pressured to get more done, with fewer resources, in less time and smaller budgets. We learn how to be change-proficient, cope with the unexpected, recognize setbacks and overcome uninvited challenges. Consequently, we seek recovery from these pressures and develop resilience in order to “get through,” resolving to recover.

Because natural emotions must be dealt with (anger, frustration, depression, alienation, rejection, insecurity, guilt), most organizations provide basic services:

  • a designated team of these responders;
  • trained managers to keep employees informed;
  • a senior management team that remains mindful of situations and maintains communication;
  • group meetings that enhance resilience;
  • availability of referrals and EAP;
  • family support; and
  • availability of HR, EAP, risk management and other related teams.

A resilient employee realizes and benefits from support mechanisms and is strengthened and grows as a result of the experience; resulting from company-provided resources.

We can sometimes encourage others to persevere through adversity and difficulties, inspired to exercise observed patience and resilience. We encourage them not to accept the tragedies or inevitability of our circumstances or difficulties, but to make the most of them. It is impossible to “teach” resilience, but better to demonstrate what it really is. Sometimes, it is frustrating to have others misunderstand what is obvious to the resilient, but it is true that they can learn whatever coping and survival techniques necessary to succeed and recover.

You want to be able to say that you’ve converted misfortune into something better, or “see” what happened and know how to turn challenges around. Ask “what was the purpose,” and know you’ve learned the reason why.

In order for things to go well, we have to do little things to recover. We are committed to making things work well; to do whatever it takes to meet challenges head-on. When things go wrong, we carefully look at why. We learn from experiences and do things differently the next time. We become self-reliant and count on ourselves more than on others. When we hit a setback, we see it as temporary, but surmountable. We adapt quickly to new developments. Communicating the experiences to work-sponsored representatives (Ombudsmen, HR, EAP, etc.,) is the beginning of turning it around and changing the environment that impacts our situation.

We are creative, well-organized; sometimes intense and intuitive, optimistic. We’ve learned to be calm and are task-oriented when on the road to recovery. We seek solutions and attempt positive outcomes. We need and expect things to work out well for ourselves, family and friends. Adversity has taught us to listen well, understand what others think and feel, and if they’re affected by our journey. We encourage feedback resulting from others observing our actions. We conduct ourselves professionally and ethically. We focus on getting results and can make the difficult appear easy. We trust our intuition and defend ourselves if we must. We convert misfortune into good fortune and, when knocked off track, we turn it around. The lesson for us? Learned resilience.

This article originally appeared in the School Planning & Management November 2013 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Alyce Honore’-Hubert is the supervisor of Facilities Maintenance and Operations for the Houston ISD. She won the National School Plant Manager of the Year award for 2011 from the National School Plant Management Association (NSPMA.)