Building Resilience in Business

We can all agree that business is hard. Whether you are working for yourself or in employment, stress and other factors can make you feel out of kilter pretty quickly and if unaddressed it is easy to spiral into self-doubt, sickness and absenteeism.

Developing a better understanding of resilience, and training yourself to be more resilient can be an effective tool to ensure you stay mentally strong when all about you are “losing their heads.”

What is resilience?

Resilience is your ability to deal with life stressors. It is the coping mechanisms you have in place and how you react and seek to resolve issues and concerns in order to move forward. Think of it as life buoyancy. How you effectively manage to keep afloat when the ship is sinking. Because in business and employment, sometimes the ship definitely feels like it is sinking!

Resilience is not a magical tool you are born with, (although some people can be born with better levels of resilience than others). It is something you can nurture, develop and train yourself into over-time. You are most likely already to be resilient if you:

  • Have a positive mental attitude
  • Are responsive
  • Are self-aware
  • Have good levels of emotional intelligence

Essentially to become more resilient you need to flip the switch from being passive – letting things happen to you and reacting to them in perhaps a negative way; to being active – reflecting and positively asserting yourself to deal with stressors head on.

Why is it important?

Because both professionally and personally, life is stressful. There is no hiding away from our 24/7 lifestyle and the stressors we face in work can often spill into our personal life and vice versa. Professionally, you may find yourself working with difficult people, you might not win the contract, you might face financial insecurity, you might be overlooked for the promotion, your manager might be critical of you. The list goes on and on. If you don’t develop better levels of resilience you can quickly feel swamped by the weight of all of life’s challenges and what happens then? You can become despondent, ineffective and depressed. Better resilience can lead to:

  • More productivity
  • Better decision making
  • Confidence
  • Happiness and calm

Train the brain.

The brain is a muscle, and just like the body if you want to develop flexibility, durability and strength you need go to the gym. To increase resilience, you need pump that mental iron and get your brain functioning to improve your flexibility and strength but also encourage that essential life buoyancy.

  1. Seek support – your network is a life line when needing more resilience. Having those key persons in place you can seek advice from will help you increase calm and offer valuable reflection time. If you haven’t got people you feel you can talk to, writing it down is also useful.
  1. Give it some space – when faced with difficulties we very quickly react to the situation without taking time to reflect. This can be personally and professionally damaging. Reflection might enable you to make different decisions or see the situation from a different perspective. Try to step back before reacting.
  1. Let it go – recognise that you cannot control everything that happens to you. Why would you want to? Be at peace with this.
  1. Get healthy – our bodies are an ecosystem of nerves, transmitters and systems all working together to make us function to our optimum performance. As such we need to look after all parts of this. This includes getting more rest, eating well, exercising and other wellbeing activities.
  1. Mountains and molehills – positioning the issues that crop up and cause you difficulty in a wider context will help put the situation in perspective. It might feel like a big issue but being realistic will help to minimise its actual importance.
  1. Don’t give into drama – like the above, it is easier to perpetuate an issue by continually talking about it or wallowing in the situation. Outside of your support network, don’t gossip and spread the drama. You will actually find, like a fire, the less air you give to it, the quicker it dies out.
  1. Positive Mental Attitude – this can be tricky, because some days are just tough. But trying to keep upbeat and positive about things that happen can really enable you to overcome and bounce back from most issues. Consider creating a personal mantra that you can repeat to yourself when faced with challenge. “I am strong, I am clear, I overcome”
  1. Learn – sometimes bad things happen, but like the saying “sometimes we win, sometimes we learn” try to take learning from the situation you have been faced with and use that to avoid future negative situations. In that way you are still getting something out of it. Look at that for positive mental attitude!
  1. Recognise your skills – the truth is you are great! But when do you ever reflect and think about those things? Never? Taking just a little time each week to think about the challenges you have overcome or the wins you have made will go a long way to helping boost your confidence and increasing that life buoyancy.
  1. Help others – What? You are feeling all stressed out and like you can’t cope but I am suggesting you help others? Yes! Because supporting others will do three things. It will help you feel useful and more confident, it will enable you to put your own issues into context and it will also offer you reflection of own concerns. It is a win, win, win!

Finally, and with all this in mind. The key to successfully building resilience is also to recognise your reaction to stress so you know when to pump the brakes and take a time out. Here, (adapted from Skills for Care, Building your own resilience, health and wellbeing) are some common symptoms that could show you it’s time to make some positive changes: 

  • Physical – nausea, light headedness, dry mouth, heart pounding, flushing, digestive problems.
  • Emotional – judgement, short temper, feeling overwhelmed, paranoia.
  • Behavioural – procrastinating, neglecting responsibilities, nail biting or twitching.
  • Thinking – unable to concentrate, negative mindset, excessive worrying, self-doubt, making poor decisions

There might be 7.53 billion people in the world, but there is only one YOU. So, value yourself and look after your mental health. Enable yourself to become more resilient and more productive. You never know you could just end up being happier too!

The power of Psychometrics

What words does the term “Psychometrics” conjure up to you? Does it send shivers down your spine? Do your hairs stand on end? Do you dismiss them as adding little value?

Despite psychometrics being used in hiring for over 10 years and their increasing popularity amongst hiring managers and HR teams, I often encounter misconceptions about the insights they provide and the value they bring… I’ve even heard senior leaders compare psychometrics to a new age fad!

In truth, psychometrics are actually based on the theory and technique of psychological measurement; created using a combination of science, psychology, mathematics and technology.  This in turn can be designed in such a way as to measure knowledge, ability, attitude and personality.

Of course not all tests are same. When we refer to a “test” we think of it as having definite right or wrong answers – and there are some tests used in hiring that do just that, measuring your aptitude and reasoning ability (numerical, spatial and verbal). However, those that identify preferences and styles of behaviour (my personal favourites) deliver no “right or wrong” answer. I still become somewhat frustrated that in recruitment we continue to call these “personality tests”. This is what can turn people off and can create a feeling of apprehension, creating the illusion they will somehow tell you something you don’t already know about yourself, or reveal some dark hidden secret.

More appropriately referred to as a preferences questionnaire or behavioural assessment, the supposed mysticism is unveiled once you know that these tools are in effect self-report style questionnaires.  The structure is self-reflective, allowing the individual to rate their own preferences and styles of behaviour.  The objective being, to provide insight into the style of behaviours they are more likely to display.

As Michael Gravelle, managing director of The McQuaig Institute states “hiring winning talent is a complicated process, but one that’s much easier when you take the time to understand what you need and who you are interviewing”.

The Science Behind The Assessments

The effectiveness of these assessments are measured most by what we call criterion related validity –the extent to which the score on a self-report item predicts the future demonstration of that behaviour.

All psychometrics, whether they be behavioural preferences or definitive tests should always be registered with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and their subsequent Psychological Testing Centre (PTC).  This ensures they have undergone stringent and objective evaluations culminating in a genuine instrument for assessment.

So Why Aren’t They More Widely Used?

Interestingly, despite these scientifically validated tools being available, surveys conducted by the CIPD show that only 56% of companies use assessment tools.

The reasons for this can be narrowed down to the following three barriers:


Ensuring the organisation has accredited practitioners who can deliver, interpret and feedback on tools

Not understanding what they are or how they can assist in predicting job fit

The main concern for organisations is that such assessments can become a rather expensive part of the hiring process. Having worked as an in-house recruiter, utilising Psychometrics from various third party suppliers, fees can start at around £250 per test, to £5000 and above for a full individual assessment of an operating leader.

This is at a time when the costs of recruiting are higher than ever – research conducted by the CIPD has found that on average the internal costs of recruiting a senior employee before even considering such assessments, can be in the region of £9,000 per participant.

Due to these cost implications some organisations use behavioural assessment but don’t bring it in until the end of the process. This can often be a false economy though if the candidate is deemed to not be a good fit at the end of the hiring process. Instead this candidate could have been ‘filtered’ at an earlier stage via such an assessment, allowing the right candidates to have passed through the process, thereby reducing costs and ultimately securing the best person for the role.

During my career history I have developed a high regard for colleagues and organisations who utilise such behavioural assessment tools to help inform hiring decisions. But with the competition for top talent increasing there is a continual pressure to find and select top talent from the outset, whilst trying to keep campaigns within budget, in conjunction with delivering a best in class recruitment service for candidates and clients alike.

With such an incentive to get hiring right (and the high costs when a hire hire doesn’t work out), the art lies in selecting the right candidates to interview who display the attitudes, values and behaviours that you are looking for, matched against role and skill requirements (before they even set foot in the door). Harnessing such an assessment before you have even met a candidate, allows you, as a prospective employer, to find out important information about the potential of an individual and help inform future interview recruitment stages.

It’s also possible to offset the cost of using psychometric’s by using a recruitment partner who advocates behavioural assessments and are willing to absorb the cost. This in effect can give you the best of both worlds – more detailed candidate assessment without the extra cost.

The Future of Behavioural Assessments

Good recruitment practices, positive candidate experience and innovative technology are an important part of any recruitment process. This is especially true for candidates who are rejected during the recruitment process – the last thing your brand needs is senior candidates who were unhappy with your hiring process talking negatively to the market about their experiences.

What Next?

Learn more about how you can combine psychometrics with technology to de-risk your hiring process and assess a candidates suitability.