Teaching Your Team the Art of Resilience

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I realize the times are tough for a lot of people: working parents, more work piled on and lots of stress due to worries and concerns about health and so on. I get it. But what I don’t get is that everyone seems to have lost their ability to deal with adversity and figure out a way around it.

Every day I get a call or have a meeting where my team brings up issues and things making their lives difficult. I am a fairly open manager and have no problems listening to the troubles. But I think about my own kids, in their 40’s, who have gone through tremendous challenges and they are problem-solvers not problem-makers.

How do I get my staff to realize they have the power to effect change and they don’t have to come to me with every single problem?


Dear S.M.,

This is such an integrated issue – there are often many factors that lead to the frustration you are experiencing as a leader. A few questions to consider:

  1. Are you a “just do it” type of leader? By this I mean that you take the problems and things that need to be addressed and you just do it on your own without helping team members work things through. I have often found that leaders with a strong bent toward action will sometimes punish themselves because they are essentially teaching their team to be reliant on them, and that they will fix things or deal with things.
  2. Have you helped your team work through the obstacles they are raising to ascertain the ones they can control, which they can influence and which are out of their control? This is a very effective process for leaders. Instead of seeing what they bring up as “problems” or “Issues,” consider them to be obstacles in the way of their ability to do the job as effectively as they need and want to. How can you help them identify those obstacles without getting defensive about them? How can you help them isolate which ones they can take steps to fix, and which ones are not worth the energy to fixate on, because they are out of their control?