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Building resilience in the charity sector

4 January 2019

As a communications professional, you play a central role in delivering your charity’s strategy. This can be exciting and rewarding yet at the same time it can leave you open to knockbacks – whether that’s negative comments from colleagues about your creative ideas or the senior management team disagreeing with a project proposal.

Add to this economic and political uncertainty, tight budgets, stretched resources and the toll of constantly caring about and working on challenging causes, and it’s little wonder charity workers can feel overwhelmed. So what’s the solution? Surprisingly our experience suggests the answer can be found in the corporate sector.

Bouncing back from challenging situations

To help staff deal with the challenges of high-pressure roles, corporate businesses use a tool called resilience coaching. This type of coaching aims to boost people’s resilience in the short term so they can cope with challenging situations that are happening right now. It then builds long-term resilience, giving people the confidence to face difficulties head on. In the coaching world, we call this the ‘bounce-back factor’ – when people are able to recover from a challenging situation quickly and move forward positively.

Whilst the problems that people bring to resilience coaching are wide and varied, common scenarios include feeling overwhelmed by situations such as work overload, a barrier in a key piece of work, a difficult working relationship, or big scale changes at work.  However, what people find challenging is personal and individual, and no problem is too big or small for resilience coaching to be able to impact positively.

Resilience coaching is very practical and can be carried out one-to-one with an individual, or through group coaching. The coach works with people to help them build the strategies and tools needed to better manage their responses to challenging situations. With one-to-one coaching, coaches show individuals how to respond to specific challenges they face in their own role. In group coaching people share examples of their challenges and learn how to adapt the resilience tools to widely varying examples.

Supporting people’s mental health

High stress levels are not healthy obviously and can contribute to mental health issues. Previous research conducted by Mind reveals work to be the biggest source of stress in our lives.  This is then compounded by people’s fear of talking to their employer about their mental health.  The research shows that stress and mental health problems are costly to businesses, and calls on employers to better support their employees’ wellbeing.

Resilience coaching is the answer to this call. It equips people to manage and overcome high levels of stress, by teaching them how to reframe problems and change their mindset. By tackling stress at an early stage, it can prevent mental health issues from spiraling. We all need resilience to do our jobs – after all, our working week makes up a huge part of our lives and challenging situations are inevitable. By being able to respond well to knockbacks in the workplace, it’s easier to pick ourselves up.

So how can you tell if resilience coaching will help you and your colleagues? Consider these questions:

  • Is our working environment stressful?
  • Would we like to build long-term resilience to help us manage everyday challenges?
  • Do we have particularly big challenges or changes coming up?
  • Would we like the practical tools to weather these storms?

If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, then resilience coaching is well worth exploring.  Have a chat with your colleagues about the challenges you are all facing and then talk with a coach about how they can help you to develop the resilience to manage these challenges.  You, your colleagues and your charity will be healthier for it.

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Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development


Image: Sebastian Voortman on Pexels


Lara Roche

founder, The Talent Sphere

Lara Roche owns The Talent Sphere; provider of innovative people strategy and learning. Lara has led HR at board level for several organisations and her work has won awards and accolades including Best Talent Strategy (HR Excellence Awards), Gold and Champion Status (Investors in People) and Top 100 Listings (Best Companies and Britain’s Top Employers).