(First published in AUGI World Magazine – Dec. 2016)
We live in an age where technology touches everything. The Internet of Things is growing every day. Workplaces have high tech workers who know how to self-manage their devices and work environments. Design technology and project processes can go awry and go downhill fast. You are called on when things go bad. When the going gets tough – people turn to you. You need to have a positive resolve.
Getting through the tough spots. Landing on your feet. Knocked down but not out. Surviving a crisis and getting stronger because of it. Tech Managers have to be resilient. In fact those that succeed in the long run are those that are resilient in the face of adversity. They push forward. They find ways of getting things done, often without help, time or money. They are resilient.
What is resilience?
Psychology Today defines it this way: Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.
According to Christy Matta, MA on the PsychCentral website:
“Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.”
Ms. Matta goes on to state that everyone is resilient at some level, but it can be more highly developed with focus and effort. “People who have experienced good outcomes tend to see themselves as effective. With each good outcome, their confidence in themselves builds. These are often the people who you might consider resilient. If they experience a failure, their confidence in their abilities motivates them to continue to try until they succeed. Very often they do succeed and over a lifetime become proficient in many areas. On the other hand, doubt in oneself often leads to resignation after unsuccessful first efforts. Those who view themselves as competent and capable also often experience initial failure. The difference is that they maintain a commitment to their goal, even in the face of obstacles.”
Back to technology and your workplace. It is full of stress and challenges every day. Things take longer to complete. People miss deadlines. Technology breaks. Things get derailed. It can get you down at times, but bouncing back should be your trademark.
What do you do? Throw your hands up and quit? Tell someone else to fix it? Ignore it? These are not options that are given to Tech Managers. We have to make it work. We have to get it done. We have to make progress. Here are some tips for becoming resilient when you are challenged by stresses, roadblocks and failures.
Get Control – You need to be a calming agent when others are losing their heads. Just hit the pause button. Even for a few minutes or seconds can help you not freak out. Controlling your initial responses can be tough, but getting a handle on surprise, annoyance, anger, disappointment and defeatism can go a long way in setting the stage for positive outcomes. Others are looking to you for answers, not panic.
Get a Grip – Understand the real impact of events. Don’t catastrophize. Which is to think or act as if something is worse than what it really is. Or do not keep going down the “What if…” scenarios that may never transpire. Don’t make events into catastrophes if they are not (and most events are not). Step back and take stock in what is really happening and what the impact of it might be. Once you have a good handle on the real problem, you can dive in and get it fixed or contained.
Get a new Attitude – Change your perspective. If you have a negative slant, a “not again” attitude, then you need to refocus and approach it anew. Shifting from defeated to resuscitate can be as easy as taking a few breaths or maybe taking a short walk. Borrow a view from someone else by asking them what they think. Talk out the negatives with a person that is a sounding board. Just getting them out of the way allows you to see some positives.
Get a Move On – Lean toward action. After you have defined the problem, then start taking action. Attempts at remediation will allow you to make positive progress or at least let you know what does not work. If it is a people problem, keep the conversation flowing. Ask more questions. Make an effort to mend fences or tear down walls.
Get a Plan – Think beyond the challenge. Look past the immediate. Reach beyond your day to day. Develop goals that stretch you. This will allow you to not get trapped in the things that are pulling you down, making you frustrated or derailing your plans. Define longer term goals. I am talking really long term, careen focus goals. Ones that your firm can capitalize on and even some that reach beyond your current position. Dream a few big dreams.
Get help from the Past – Remember what you have gotten through in the past. So many people get downtrodden with the current state of affairs. Move past that by remembering the past. You have come so far, make such progress, fixed so many things, helped move tech forward. You will do it again and again. Think about what you may have developed or created or refined in the past months or years.
Get Unstuck – Think creatively about the options you may have. If your challenge is a career setback, you still have options ahead. If you roadblock is a strained relationship, get creative on how you might reach out and strengthen the bond. If it is a hardware failure, think about where you might get other devices to fill in the gap. There are few times that present no options.
Get Healthy – It might be as simple as getting healthier. Adding on a few pounds or sitting too long can get you out of sorts. Nagging pains can be a drag on your stamina. Tend to your health. Make a new start “before” the holidays. Enjoy life in a measured way. Get moving more. Take a walk every day. Play with the kids or the dog. Eat more dark chocolate. Get outside more.
Being resilient is a trait that sets apart a great Tech Manager. They press on. They continue to seek solutions. They don’t give up.