Resilience is a career advantage – 5 strategies for your career toolbox

Volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous — for many, this describes their work environment perfectly. This environment requires us to be resilient — to take charge of our careers and lives and ride the waves of change instead of letting them drown us. Being resilient boosts our ability to manage career obstacles, make sense of organizational changes, and manage transition, while continuing to be productive and satisfied in our careers.

Over my twenty years as a career and leadership coach, I have often heard clients describe their busy careers as out of control and impossible to manage. Some are workaholics who have become tired of feeling like they are putting their personal lives — family, hobbies, exercise — on the back burner. Some are successes in their field who equate being able to keep going with being resilient. But being resilient does not mean you put your head down and power through. Being resilient means you have the skills to handle change and to recover and recharge yourself so you have the energy needed for a productive, engaging career and life.

The flip side of resilience is burnout. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD, describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” [1] The symptoms are different for everyone, but there are clear warning signs. Do you feel exhausted many days? Do you lack motivation? Is your internal drive not as strong as it used to be? Do you feel constantly frustrated? Are you having difficulty focusing on your work? Burnout can be caused by a number of factors, including a high-pressure work environment, unclear job expectations, too many responsibilities, lifestyle choices; and certain personality traits. Being connected 24/7 is also a factor in burnout, and a connection has been found between not receiving recognition for good work and burnout.

My focus on resilience has its roots in one of my own career transitions. When the Fortune 500 company for whom I provided coaching services was acquired by another company, I was told my services were no longer needed. In order to provide a proper transition for the employees I was already coaching, I was granted an additional three months and worked with many employees whose jobs had been eliminated and with others who decided to explore new career paths.

As I made the journey with them, I saw that some were thrown off by this major change and began to second-guess their competence even though they had had very successful careers. By comparison, individuals with career resilience were able to navigate much more effectively through the process. I identified five common strategies that these resilient people possessed as part of their career toolbox. These became my Benatti Resiliency Model.

The Benatti Resiliency Model consists of five strategies:

Well-being: physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Self-care to enhance your health and well-being yields immediate benefits. You will be more productive and energized.

Self-awareness: purpose, mindset, and type. Your purpose defines the direction in which you would like to see your career and life move. Having the mindset that you have control over your personal and professional achievements helps you move forward. Knowing the natural gifts and challenges of your personality type is key to functioning well in the workplace.
Brand: attributes, impact, and reputation. Brand doesn’t just differentiate you in the marketplace; knowing your brand lets you be more visible and proactive in your career.
Connection: cultivating relationships. Strong relationships are the strongest predictor of life and career satisfaction. [2]
Innovation: challenging yourself. Introducing new challenges, interests, or competencies into your career and life keeps you recharged and resilient.
In every session, my leadership coaching focuses on developing resiliency strategies. Clients often say, “I don’t need resiliency strategies. I have it all under control.” Yet when I interview their colleagues and direct reports as part of the coaching process, I hear another story. Their coworkers describe them as addicted to urgency and often out of focus — not the image they think they’re projecting at all! While stress has several positive motivational benefits, in unhealthy amounts it can interfere with your career and personal life in many ways.

I treat resilience as a business competency, and all my clients work through the Benatti Resiliency Model. We know how important time management, project management, and leadership are, but how can we be effective in our careers if we do not have the ability to bounce back and deal with change? If you do not focus on your resilience as a key career competency, you will at some point become bored, burned out, or exhausted. You will not have the energy to propel your career in the direction you want, or worse, you may find yourself downsized with nowhere to turn. When you focus on your resilience, you will have more positive energy to deal with challenges and a more balanced life.

Beth Benatti Kennedy, MS LMFT brings more than twenty years of experience to her role as a leadership and executive coach, resiliency-training expert, and speaker. With an extensive background in career development, she coaches high-potential individuals on how to use their influence strategically, collaborate effectively, and focus on innovation. Her new book, Career Recharge: Five Strategies to boost Resilience and Beat Burnout, was published in October.


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