Director’s Blog: Why we are more resilient than we think we are?

Hello,

My name is Kirsty, the Founder and Director of The Evaluator. Occasionally I write a Director’s blog to include general thoughts and interesting pieces of information that we are currently working on.

Presently, I am working on trying to come up with a solution for measuring how our clients have adapted to Covid-19. It has brought so many changes to our world. As a team, we have been carrying out quite a lot of research with people, everyday wellbeing was something we measured at the start of lockdown, and recently we have been carrying out quite a lot of online research into how organisations have helped their participants during lockdowns of all alerts/levels/tiers. I think we have found the personal view, but are lacking the more professional view, so I want to make sure we work out an easy way to do this and then apply that as widely as possible.

I started with some research, and I think the ultimate skill we are discussing is resilience. The ability to ‘try, try again’. But what is resilience and how can we measure it? We have in the past developed our own resilience scale.

Here is an extract from a blog post first published in 2017:

Resilience is a skill, we know that instinctively but how do you say for sure if someone is more resilient than another? What if they become more resilient? How do you prove it? 

There is no easily comparable tool that many people use, there are a number of resilience scales but these tend to be used in a clinical setting and are not suitable for every project. I have therefore, developed my own resilience scale, which shows what the individual believes to be their own skill-set.

I have based this on the ten ways to be more resilient as defined by Liggy Webb – the United Nations adviser on resilience; author of the book ‘Resilience’ and international keynote speaker on how to be more resilient. The ten skills are; take a journey of self-discovery, optimism, emotional control, change for the better, coping well with conflict, embracing opportunities, looking after yourself, making positive connections, keeping going and having a vision. I have reworked these skills into a scale which participants can rate themselves and also a set of skills that project staff can assess. 

Participants are to answer how often they feel like this, over the last two weeks:

  • I know myself well, and can describe my strengths and weaknesses
  • I cope well with change
  • I cope well with conflict and/ or arguments
  • I feel like I can say yes to opportunities
  • I put myself first, so I can look after others better
  • I have been socialising recently
  • I am able to make plans and stick to those plans
  • I believe that life will improve in the future, I feel optimistic about the future
  • I have coped well with making decisions
  • I feel that I can cope well with stressful situations

Assigning each answer with a number, means we can measure how resilient a person is, at a particular moment in time. We can ask them again, every quarter and track their movements. We can find out what happened to make them more resilient, and what happened in their lives to make them become less resilient. In short, we can show impact numerically. 

We have used the above scale in a number of different evaluations and it has worked well. This year however we need something additional. We have been thinking about what resilience means when it is across a team, or collective, and what it means during a global pandemic. We came across a great article:-

Collective Resilience by The Collective Psychology Project – this has lots of relevance to many of the organisations we are working with. Here are some of the main points:

“There are three different layers to the crisis all playing out simultaneously: a public health emergency, an economic disaster, and a social and cultural crisis”

“22% (of adults) were engaging more with arts during lockdown”

“In the UK, 64% of adults felt that their communities had ‘come together to help each other’ during the crisis”

“63% of people felt more connected to nature during lockdown”

These are all positive outcomes to arise. However it is not all good news…

“health workers and Covid patients have faced high levels of trauma”

“we become more prone to conspiracy theories or extremist views when we feel threatened”

We should retain hope:

“Covid-19 has also shone a light on another, more hopeful story; one about how ordinary people, often led by the young, are finding new ways to cope and thrive, even in hugely challenging organisations”

“What’s more, there is evidence, from previous epidemics (like SARS), as well as other kinds of emergencies, that people in crises don’t just find ways to cope with negative mental health impacts, but also report positive effects, such as greater sense of community, meaning and spirituality – sometimes summed up in the term ‘post traumatic growth”

You can read the whole article here.

To conclude, we are going to mull over these terms – and figure out how to positively word some research into organisational post-traumatic growth for organisations.

Thanks for reading,

Kirsty