The immediate feedback we receive from our Resilience courses is overwhelmingly positive and very humbling, and speaking to participants we meet later shows that the key messages are remembered by many of them.
We know that if people practise the four steps they will become more resilient – in other words, less effected by the negative impact of stress. In the British Police study we could even show that this resulted in a reduction in sick leave, which is not surprising: we know that people who are stressed have weakened immune systems. The Police study also showed that having a follow-up reminder had a 'booster' effect reducing stress.
To help keep the message alive in people's lives we developed the web-based follow-up programme, the Challenge of Change Refresher, but we often think about what more we can do to make the training stick. Here are some simple things that organisations and teams can do to reinforce the learning.
1. Reinforce and build the language
Most importantly, use the word 'pressure' rather than 'stress' to describe the feeling that comes as demand increases. People often describe this differentiation as an "aha" moment for them and that seeing pressure for what it is eliminates the stress.
Use the language you hear on the course in your conversations, for example: "I'm ruminating;" "We need to get into the loft and view this with perspective;" "I'm too attached to this;' "it's time to let it go." Teams who use the language like this develop a short-hand code to maintain resilience and to help one another in pressure situations.
2. Leaders lead
In a recent session in an organisation the CEO said in front of his team "I need to get into the loft about this. I'm getting too het up and need some distance." That is not just helpful for him but it is fabulous modelling.
Leaders can also ask coaching questions such as: "What would you need to do to ruminate less about this?" "Where do you think you have a unique contribution and can add real value?" "How important is this really?"; "What parts can you delegate or let go of?"
3. Establish rituals
In one organisation they try to start their meetings with the question "who's here now?" This isn't a roll call but rather a signal that you need everyone to Wake Up and be fully present in the meeting, not still in the last meeting or thinking about an email you need to send. We've all experienced meetings where people's attention has been all over the place, but also meetings when people have been fully focused on the topic. The difference is both immediate and obvious.
In another organisation they often have a mindful cup of tea together where the team sits down and someone directs their attention to the various senses involved in having a hot drink.
One woman who leads a difficult monthly meeting tells us that she either spends five minutes in the Boardroom noticing her breathing before the meeting, or she listens to the eight minute CD we give out on the course. She also told us that her and her team sometimes start or end their meetings listening to the CD!
4. Review meeting
Spend some time in a regular meeting to review one particular aspect of the course. Perhaps just asking people if they have been aware of their Waking Sleep and whether they have been practising Waking Up. You could also review the communication section by having your team identify an internal or external customer, and then discussing what behaviours and habits they see in both parties. The reminder can be really simple: in another organisation they have a sheet of paper on the wall in meeting rooms showing the separation of the person from the work they do. One man also now has the 'loft' drawing on his notice board.
Don't forget too that we have the Challenge of Change Refresher programme, which is web-based. Your team could watch the Refresher together.
5. Do the course again
A surprising number of people do the course for a second time – either the full day or the half day. They tell us that they do it again because they have lost the discipline, need a top-up or a refresher, or want to deepen their understanding.
These are just five simple strategies you could use, and we would be very interested in hearing what others are doing to keep the training fresh in their organisation.