Live Blog: CIPD 2017 #Think Conference – David Ogilvie

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What resilience is, what it’s not and why it matters

First up after the opening from the Chair is our very own David Ogilvie. David starts by introducing his diverse background in organisations and why he’s speaking today. He points out his experience of teams and change but also his first hand experience of mental health problems in his work with The Recovery College, Mental Health Strategic Review and closer to home, with his family. David goes on to say that his session will cover three things – what resilience is, what it is not and why it matters.

He explains “what resilience is” with the use of a bottle of water and a willing volunteer from the audience. He quickly and simply demonstrated that resilience is physical, mental, emotional and social strength.

“We all get given tasks, time to do them in and training to succeed. How well we complete this task has very little to do with time and training, rather how we hold that task. To hold it well and be the best we can be and to get the best results we need 4 strengths to do that.”

David Ogilvie

He then went on to explain that applying that definition of resilience allowed the company to develop those strengths with skills. 55 skills in total that are evidence based. Because they are evidence based they are measurable and this leads to outcomes that can also be measured such as increases in engagement, lower stress and decreases in absence to name a few.

Resilience is not.

Resilience is not: Just bouncing back and he demonstrated this with a tennis ball. He very quickly and visually showed people that there are only so many times you can bounce back before you run out of energy. Sometimes resilience is just stopping! Half day workshops or quick fixes. He warned people to be wary of anyone saying it is a half day workshop. Resilience is a habit grounded in a skills base. Its about challenging your thinking and habits this takes time to develop. If you change your thinking you change your behaviour. Its definitely not just bouncing back – there are only so many times you can bounce back before you run out of energy. Sometimes resilience is just stopping!

Why it matters

Resilience is the flip side to engagement. When we are engaged then we are physically fit, mentally focused, emotionally involved and socially nice to be around. We are not taught how to engage in the good times. It comes naturally. When we have to engage in the challenging times it’s only then that we have to be consciously aware of resilience skills but we are not taught them at school. This is why engagement and resilience are tow sides of the same coin. We all know the costs of lack of engagement.

According to Gallup it’s 34% of someone’s wage when they exhibit presenteeism and when they burnout, it ranges between 50 + 200% of their wage to replace them. This is why resilience matters. David then talked about the macro environment that organisations exist in today. He summed it up as “do more with less and constant change”. He pointed out that this is the new way of the world and if you are not careful it can undermine your performance, wellbeing and results. He highlights that organisations devise strategies to manage this environment but that is just intent. He says that it’s habit, rather than intent that really matters and that culture is really a collection of habits, beliefs and behaviours.

Change people’s habits beliefs and behaviours and the culture will change.

Culture is all about the people and it can either drive or drain their energy. From there he moved to the personal rationale for resilience: It’s easily to look at people and think they are swimming when they are sinking. He highlighted that it’s easy to develop wellbeing strategies, engagement initiatives, mental first aid training and harder to change culture. Tick box exercises were mentioned. People no longer exist solely at work and how they take the pressure and stress of work home and vice versa. He made the point that people do not exist in a vacuum.

Finally he introduced stance.

He described how we all see the world differently and again brought it to life for people with an example of raw ingredients and cooking. He made the audience realise that how you experience the world is defined by what’s going on in your heads and that thinking drives behaviour and sometimes it needs to be challenged and changed. From there he gave the audience experiential examples of:

  • Negativity bias – we are wired for risk and the bad things get our attention.
  • Automatic thinking and how we miss details.
  • How we miss things (without realising) when we focus.
  • How our brains work in context rather than detail.
  • How context as a leader is important and how easy it is to provide factual information and the recipient not view this facts in the same way as intended.
  • Simple language patterns that threaten rather than engage people.

This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD #think Conference 2017 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.

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