Making the case for Resilience

The successful legal organisation’s mission seems simple enough: Know and Plan what you want to achieve; Recruit and Retain the right people; Do what is needed to get it done and; Repeat.  How do we retain focus however in an ever-changing legal landscape?  How do we keep going with increased workloads and demanding work practices?  A sense of loss of control over direction, job content and execution exposes every one: junior and senior alike, to increased stress.

To survive and thrive: direction, action and people need continuous development.  To stay the course, organisations and their people need the grit of resilience.  Resilience makes us “come back” from setbacks and enables us to “face forwards”:  to take ownership in the now, to pro-act on new challenges as well as to create and maximise opportunities.

We instinctively know what it means to be resilient.  How we gain and maintain resilience might be more elusive.  The notion that resilience is a practice not a state is good news to those of us who think we either have it or don’t.

Resilience: a combination of engagement and wellbeing, is a fitness which can be acquired by organisations and by its workers through education and instigating resilience-enhancing practices.

Engagement  for Best Performance

We are engaged and proactive or passive and alienated depending on our working conditions.  Engagement is the positive antipode of burnout with the latter manifesting itself in exhaustion, cynicism and reduced professional efficacy.  When we feel engaged we bring our preferred selves to work and enliven our obligatory roles.  Meaningfulness and feeling safe at work have the greatest impact on our engagement.

We will express engagement in an extensive range of positive behaviours and traits such as effort, dedication, flow, commitment, citizenship, energy, and effectiveness.  We are prepared to go the extra mile to help our organisation succeed.  We do things beyond the scope of the job description and help out colleagues.

Wellbeing: Happy at work

Psychological wellbeing is about a positive state of existing .  When we are well, we are content, have energy and are calm.  Wellbeing in a work context effectively equates to being happy at work.  Hopefully you are familiar with the feeling: When you enjoy what you do and feel that what you do has meaning and purpose for you and for your organisation.

Core conditions for psychological wellbeing are provided when firms offer safe and healthy working conditions, adequate resources, effective communication, a degree of control over how tasks are undertaken and manageable workloads.  Job and financial security are important also,  as are collegial working relationships and positive and encouraging management, leadership and culture.

Resilience for better results

Our organisations look for peak performance to direct, run, grow and reinvent the business.  Workers are called upon to deliver quantity and quality as well as to be creative and innovative in thinking.  Nowhere is this more true than in legal organisations in the face of regulatory and funding challenges.

Creating value for our organisation goes beyond executing our job description, its focus is on creativity with an emphasis on quality performance and outcomes.   Wellbeing and resilience are to creativity what health and safety were to productivity in the factory age.  Being well and resilient is essential to creative effectiveness.  When we are well and resilient our thinking is better, it leads to insights and innovations and we bring creativity to our organisations.

Engaged and healthy employees increase financial performance, they make better employees:   they are more effective, proactive and creative.   The resilience of engagement and wellbeing will also lead to greater client satisfaction, lower staff turnover and fewer absences.

Firms and organisations which invest in resilience and wellbeing see immediate and long-term benefits from the initiatives themselves and from the fact that workers know their organisations look out for them.  Firms who want their workers to thrive are also very likely to appeal to new recruits.

Ann Langford, Senior Consultant

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