Benefits of Resilient Teams During Change

When change happens in the workplace, some may feel a loss of the familiar, an increased sense of uncertainty, or an overall concern about the future. Others may view change more positively – as creating new opportunities, a chance to be challenged and learn new things, an ability to be creative, and a time to rally self and others around the changes.

Keeping your organization’s productivity and morale up during these times can be a challenge. Organizations must focus on clear change initiatives and create a culture and capacity to undertake these change initiatives.

And so how do you build a team that can excel through change, and not be stifled by it? And how does an individual recognize their own capacity to adapt to change? The key is resiliency. Resiliency refers to the ability to recover from or adjust easily to change so that there are not significant declines in functioning; therefore, allowing quality work and effective operation of the organization to continue.

There are five characteristics of resilient individuals: positive, focused, flexible, organized, and proactive.

Positive: A resilient individual sees opportunity.
Although challenges might present themselves, a resilient individual will seek out positive aspects of change and embrace the opportunity to learn. This individual also expects change to occur and does not necessarily resist it.

Focused: A resilient individual can set and achieve goals despite changes or setbacks.
Despite disruptions, this individual can develop a clear vision of objectives and define what needs to be accomplished to meet new objectives.

Flexible: A resilient individual can find innovative and creative ways to approach new situations.
This individual is able to manage change by displaying patience, utilizing strengths, and modifying assumptions or frames of reference to adapt to change.

Organized: A resilient individual manages the ambiguity that comes with change.
This individual can manage the stress amongst new demands and changing priorities, and asks for help when needed.

Proactive: A resilient individual engages with change rather than evades it.
This individual takes initiative, implements new approaches, invests energy into problem solving, and can positively influence others and creatively resolve conflict.

Typically, individuals may possess a combination of resilient characteristics. One individual may be positive, proactive, and flexible, while another individual may be focused, organized, and proactive. Building a resilient team would include individuals that complement each other, and together as a team, possess the five resilient characteristics to draw on strengths rather than weaknesses.

Resilient characteristics are important, but they need to coexist with clear goals and the perception that reaching the defined goals depends on the effort of each team member. Team members must also value differences and be able to listen to input from others and be open to looking at different perspectives in support of the team and its goals.

Building resilient teams are not easy, but careful cultivation of a resilient team would reflect the following characteristics:
Positive: The team recognizes the contribution of each member to the team and its overall ability to positively influence during change.
Focused: The team remains focused on the common goal rather than individual agendas.
Flexible: The team appreciates each member’s ideas and recognizes the value of the whole team in creating the best solutions during change.
Organized: The team is able to make sense out of the confusion that may occur during change, filter out what is important, and set appropriate priorities during change.
Proactive: The team takes action in spite of ambiguity and makes adjustments as needed to ensure effectiveness.

The benefits of resilient teams will keep your organization functioning in the most productive and effective way during the uncertainty of change.

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Nothing Endures But Change-Heraclitus

Heraclitus had it right: Change is a fact of life. In the Greek philosopher’s time, change tended to unfold gradually. But today’s world changes at an alarmingly rapid pace. Thanks to television and the internet, images and information zip around the globe in seconds, and we’re sometimes expected to respond just as quickly.

Change can take many forms and affect every aspect of our lives. It occurs in our family, work, social life, and well-being. Some changes involve additions, such as births, new friends or relationships, and new possessions. Others involve losses, such as death, divorce, or illness. Some changes are sudden, such as losing your job, while others are more gradual, such as entering middle age.

Change can be good or bad, depending on the person and the circumstances. For example, a divorce may be seen as a tragedy or a relief. A promotion is generally viewed as a change for the good, but if you’re anxious or unsure of your skills, you may view it as negative or threatening. Change may be sought out, appreciated or accepted, or it may be forced upon you, and resented or resisted. It can challenge or stimulate you, or make you feel anxious and threatened. Too little change can make life boring or depressing, while too much change can be uncomfortable or overwhelming.

Whatever its form, change requires an adjustment of some kind. This takes energy and, when the demands are too great, it can drain you physically and mentally. Change creates stress, and so it needs to be managed effectively to prevent the development of stress-related symptoms and illnesses. Unmanaged stress can cause physical and emotional disorders, including everything from headaches and digestive problems to high blood pressure and insomnia.

The key to coping with change is to recognize it, understand its effects, and bring it—or your responses to it—under control as much as possible. When you can’t control the change itself, adjusting your attitude toward it can help lessen any stress or tension. You’ll stay healthier that way.

Tips for Making Change

Strive for moderate change. Change is stressful, even when it’s positive and welcome. But no change at all can make us feel like we’re stagnating. Strive for balance. Too much stress at once, or even a moderate amount of stress over a long period of time, can be unhealthy. People who experience a lot of changes in a brief period—within a year, for instance—are more likely to experience an accident or illness within that period than people who face fewer changes, research shows.

Try to see the opportunities in change. The Chinese word for crisis is made up of two symbols: the symbol for danger and the symbol for opportunity. Try to think of change as a mixture of crisis (or danger, or uncertainty) and opportunity. Ask yourself what lesson you might learn, what skill you might develop, or what aspect of yourself you might strengthen as a result of coping with this change.

Physical health will support mental health. During times of change and high stress, remember that regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep is needed to maintain your ability to cope.

For more articles and resources on change, visit, click on the Work Life Button, and enter your company password.

Workplace Options. (Reviewed 2015). Coping with change. Raleigh, NC: Author.

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Addressing Mental Health Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage4)

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4 – we begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases, and are beginning to show signs of symptoms like a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. We don’t ignore them. In fact, we develop a plan of action to reverse and sometimes stop the progression of the disease.

So why aren’t we doing the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness?

When you or someone close to you starts to experience the early warning signs of mental illness, knowing what the risk factors and symptoms are will help to catch them early. Often time, family and friends are the first to step in to support a person through these early stages. Experiencing symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, shouldn’t be ignored or brushed aside in the hopes that they go away. Like other diseases, we need to address these symptoms early, identify the underlying disease, and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health. Mental health conditions should be addressed long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process – before Stage 4.

Many people do not seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Up to 84% of the time between the first signs of mental illness and first treatment is spent not recognizing the symptoms.

Mental Health America’s screening tools can help. Taken online at, screening is an anonymous, free and private way to learn about your mental health and see if you are showing warning signs of a mental illness. A screening only takes a few minutes, and after you are finished you will be given information about the next steps you should take based on the results. A screening is not a diagnosis, but it can be a helpful tool for starting a conversation with your doctor or a loved one about your mental health.

This May is Mental Health Month and aims to raise awareness of the important role mental health plays in our lives and encouraging members of the community to learn more about their own mental health and to take action immediately if they are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.

Mental illnesses are not only common, they are treatable. There is a wide variety of treatment options for mental illnesses ranging from talk therapy to medication to peer support, and it may take some time for a person to find the right treatment or combination of treatments that works best for them. But when they do, the results can be truly amazing and life changing. Your EAP wants to help people learn what they can do both to protect their mental health and know the signs of mental illness #B4Stage4.

It’s up to all of us to know the signs and take action so that mental illnesses can be caught early and treated, and we can live up to our full potential. We know that intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and change the trajectories of people living with mental illnesses. Be aware of your mental health and get screened #B4Stage4 today!

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Work/Life Balance: How Do You Achieve It?

Maintaining a work/life balance sounds great, but how do you achieve it? Where do you start?

<strong>Determine Your Priorities</strong>
First, take some time to reflect on what is most important to you. This could include family, friends, civic involvement, spirituality, exercise/health, sleep, finances, job, hobbies, household, recreation/entertainment, or other goals or areas of importance. After reflecting on what is most important in both your personal and professional life, write down the list of priorities that you have determined in order of importance.

<strong>Track Your Time</strong>
Second, create a picture of how you currently allocate your time to activities. One way to do this is to keep a time log for a week and track how much time you spend on each activity. Tracking your time could include some of the items of importance you noted, but could also include other areas that consume your time such as watching TV, social media, commuting, reading, chores, or other time takers or responsibilities. Understanding how you use your time or lose your time will be important to finding opportunities for a better work/life balance.

<strong>Get a Reality Check</strong>
Next, take your time log and figure out what percent of your time is spent on each activity. Then compare these percentages with your list of priorities. Are you allocating your time to correspond with your priorities? If not, start asking yourself what you would like to do differently. For example, you might notice that your health is at the top of your priority list, but you are allocating more time to watching TV than to exercise. To implement change, it is important to set goals related to integrating more exercise into your life.

<strong>Set New Goals</strong>
To start the change process, take your list of proposed changes and set concrete, measurable goals. For example, if you are setting a goal to exercise more, you might cut out one hour of TV a day and replace it with exercise. Or, you might hop on your treadmill while watching your favorite shows. You might set a goal of going to the gym for one hour after work to log 5 hours of exercise a week. Treat your activities like you would do a work meeting – schedule a block of time in your calendar for each activity. Do this exercise for other areas of your life that you want to allocate more time to because it is a priority and it is important to your overall well-being.

<strong>Take Care of You</strong>
People who tend to struggle with work/life balance feel overwhelmed and stressed. Determining what drains you and what refuels you can be a simple way of figuring out what you need less of and what you need more of. Eating the right foods, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep is essential for one’s health, energy level, concentration, mood, and productivity. Learning stress management will help you identify when stress has moved from productive (adequate levels of stress) to destructive (chronic levels of stress). When stress becomes unproductive and results in negative physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral effects (know your stress symptoms), it is important to take a time out and breathe, take a walk, do relaxation exercises, meditate, utilize your support network, or do something that gives you joy and can give you relief from the harmful effects of stress.

<strong>Helpful Tips</strong>
<li>Set aside 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each day (or the night before) to plan your daily activities that support your priorities and goals.</li>
<li>Set boundaries to keep your goals. This might be informing those at work or at home that you will be assigning time to a certain activity. Having clear boundaries between work and home will be important to functioning well at both.</li>
<li>Continue to review your time management skills to ensure that you are allocating the time you need to activities that are important to you. There are many apps you can download to help you with planning your activities.</li>
<strong>When to Seek Help</strong>
If you are struggling to find a work/life balance, experiencing chronic stress, or are not functioning at home or at work like you would like, contact your EAP to provide assistance.

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What is Your Stress Talk?

We live in a fast-paced world and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Rushing to work, meeting strict deadlines, increased workloads, taking kids to practice and helping them with their homework, fixing dinner, cleaning the house, and dealing with those unforeseen occurrences that throw your already busy schedule into a whirlwind.

Feeling stressed has become part of our fabric. But chronic stress can take its toll and produce a menu of negative impacts. If you are feeling stressed, it is time to slow down and evaluate your stressors and stress symptoms.

Stressors are situations that are perceived as threatening to one’s well-being or position in life. Stressors can trigger the body’s stress response and a series of physiological changes such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, secretion stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, norepinephrine), elevated blood pressure, muscle tension, etc. can occur.

Stress symptoms are how we react to stress. Everyone reacts to stress differently and can manifest with physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral symptoms. These symptoms can include, but not limited to: headaches, muscle fatigue, lack of energy, irritability, withdrawal, worrying, negative thinking, loss of concentration, changes in appetite or sleep, relational problems, substance use, and more. Becoming more aware of your stress will help you be more proactive in managing it. Work through this exercise to identify your stressors, recognize your stress symptoms, and create a stress management plan to better take care of yourself and not let stress take over.

Identify the perceived threat

  • What situations are you finding stressful?
  • Is it a real or perceived threat?
  • Reframe the stressor in your mind.

Start by knowing yourself

  • How do you know when you are stressed?
  • How do you act/react when stressed?
  • Create a list of the positive and negative ways you deal with stress.

Ask for feedback

  • Ask a few people that you trust how they see you coping with stress.
  • What are some areas you can improve?
  • What are some positive behaviors you can continue?

Looking outside of you

  • Identify a few people that you see coping with stress.
  • What are the positive ways they cope with stress?
  • Which, if any, of these positive coping skills can you imitate?

Create a plan

  • Choose one behavior that you would like to change.
  • Identify two opportunities to implement the behavior each week.
  • Discuss your plan with a trusted co-worker so that they can help you stay accountable to the change.


  • After practicing your positive behavior for a couple of weeks, ask yourself what went well? What can you continue to work on?
  • Did you identify new opportunities for change?
  • What were barriers to your success?
  • Repeat positive behaviors.


  • Be patient with yourself; change can be hard.
  • Be persistent. Re-evaluate and try again.
  • Take care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit.
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Changes in the Workplace: How to Go with the Flow

It’s probably not news to those in the workforce that business is changing and changing fast. Many times, it is difficult to predict or know what will happen next with the very place that we may be working. Over the years, some companies have had to downsize, reorganize, merge, and change its workforce. These kinds of changes can put a new face on organizational dynamics and how we see our role within the organization.

It is stressful to deal with any change, and the uncertainty can be unsettling when you are not directly involved nor being communicated with about the changes in the organization.  Accepting change and making the required transitions may be difficult. Here are some suggestions to help adapt to change in a positive manner:

The first step is to learn about the reason(s) for the change so that you can comprehend the direction the organization is taking. Change can be positive and presents an opportunity to be instrumental in the change which will be a real asset to the organization. Identifying what training or new information you may need to obtain to better understand and to better adapt during the transition will be beneficial.

The second steps are acknowledging your feelings and recognizing that just stuffing those feelings will not help. Going to an EAP counselor can help you identify how the changes are making you feel. You may start to recognize a grieving process since the change may be a major difference in how you have worked in the past. Attempt to learn from others about their perspective of the changes, but be careful about the negativity factor that often occurs and can prevent you from seeing opportunities that may or could present themselves.

A positive attitude is not only important, but will be recognized by those implementing the changes. Learn your role in the change process. Manage your feelings and responses to the transition so that you can put on the best professional approach. Communicating with your supervisor and attempting to understand what skills you may need to learn or utilize will be essential.

When change is anticipated, it is important to acknowledge that an increase in pressures, demands, and workloads may occur. Finding ways to prepare and proactively handle these changes will help decrease the stress. Protect your leisure time and methods of managing stress to help cope with any changes. It is important not to neglect your family nor turn to substance use as a stress releaser or coping strategy.

Part of the change process is acceptance – acknowledging the change, assisting with the change process, and allowing change to work to your advantage. Change can be the time to look into how you can expand your value to the company and to focus on your strengths which could contribute or assist with the transition. Managers can help employees with change by fully understanding the changes, implementing changes effectively, and communicating the changes to employees. Encouraging employees to ask questions and to seek guidance during the process will help to mitigate employee fears and uncertainties.

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Making Time Work for You

Now that you may be setting goals for the New Year, it is probably a good time to look at your time management skills. It is probably not surprising that if you can manage your time that you are more likely to keep on track with your goals. And more importantly, you will learn to challenge yourself when you fall into that old habit of saying, “I don’t have time.”

Take a moment to answer these questions:

  • I never have time to __________
  • I spend way too much time on _________
  • One thing I wish I could do every day is _________
  • I procrastinate whenever I have to __________

Review your answers. How long have you been feeling this way? What gets in the way of you accomplishing what you want? Many times, we have more control than we think. Let’s take a look at the top 10 time wasters:

10. Crisis management
9. Telephone, email, internet
8. Poor planning
7. Attempting to do too much
6. Interruptions and distractions
5. Poor delegation
4. Personal disorganization
3. Lack of self-discipline
2. Inability to say “NO”
1. Procrastination

Do any of these ring a bell? Can you identify the time wasters that are keep you from having time to do “____,” spending less time on “____,” doing the one thing (“____”) you like everyday, and no longer procrastinating whenever you have to “____”.  Stephen Covey reminds us that, “Time management is really a misnomer – the real challenge is not to manage time, but to manage yourself.”

Just by answering the questions above and looking at common time wasters, you might be able to determine where time is your friend and where time is your foe. Here are some additional tips to find ways to free up time and replace those time wasters with productivity.

Make a time diary It is important to lay out how you currently use your time. Log the hours in your day: Morning routine, driving, work, meetings, lunch, after work activities, tv watching, surfing the net and social media, etc. Be honest with yourself, and be thorough. Do you see time that is not being used wisely?

Learn to say no We can’t forgo all responsibilities, but we can look at our priorities, goals, and set boundaries to preserve those items and not take on more things that could jeopardize what is most important to you.

Schedule priorities In the words of Stephen Covey, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Identify your priorities, allot how much time they will take, and schedule them like you would do any other meeting. You wouldn’t miss a work meeting, right? You should have that same attitude about your own personal priorities.

Use technology to better manage your time Although technology can be one of those time wasters, it can also be a friend. There are many time management apps that can help you manage your schedule, keep to-do lists, monitor your productivity, and more. Click here to get a list of helpful apps.

Advocate for yourself As you put new time management skills in place, communicate to those who may try to interfere with your goals. Let them know what you are doing, when you are doing it, why it is important, and what you need from them to help you stay accountable. Remember, time is our most precious resource. Figure out how to use it wisely and in your favor.

Remember, time is our most precious resource. Figure out how to use it wisely and in your favor.

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The Art of Setting Goals

If you are looking to start anew on January 1, goal setting is more than an idea, it is an action plan. Goals may be associated with one’s career, finances, education, health, family, social activities, service, or even one’s attitude.

Although we might feel like we will conquer the world in 2015, it is important to write down your goals and prioritize them based on what is most important and what you can clearly write a plan to attain. If you have not had much success in the past with resolutions, you may want to choose one goal to put your energy toward.

A great way to start developing goals is using the SMART method:
S – Specific (or Significant)
M – Measurable (or Meaningful)
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
R – Relevant (or Rewarding)
T – Time-bound (or Trackable)

Using the SMART method can help you identify whether your goal is well-defined or is too abstract; abstract goals are generally more difficult to quantify and to measure progress. You then can adjust accordingly to assure that you are meeting the SMART criteria and are setting yourself on track to accomplish your goals.  Dr. Will Meeks in Psychology Today discusses how you can start mapping your goals by understanding goal basics, goal setting, devising an action plan, and following up. Click here to read more.

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Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

With the New Year around the corner, many start thinking about those New Year’s Resolutions – about 45% of Americans in fact. Those top resolutions include losing weight, getting more organized, saving more money, enjoying life, or being healthier. All great intentions, right!

Starting the New Year with a clean slate to focus on what you didn’t accomplish the year before or to realize new goals makes a lot of sense. But unfortunately, we also know that many New Year’s Resolutions aren’t maintained. After one month, only 64% of individuals have kept their resolution. After six months, that percentage dips to 46%, and this number continues to decline.

So why do resolutions fail? Some suggest that although people are trying to motivate themselves by setting resolutions, they are not quite ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits. Another reason for not maintaining resolutions is setting unrealistic goals which likely set people up to fail.

Making New Year’s resolutions should be a well-thought out process. Be specific. Be realistic. Have a plan. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. And so start the year off right with resolutions that you can attain and become part of the statistic of people that succeed in their resolutions.

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Increase the Holiday Spirit, not the Stress

If signs of the holidays are already making you sweat, take the time now to adopt a plan that will reduce the stress and highlight the spirit of the holidays. Here are some tips to get started.

Get a Handle on Your Biggest Holiday Stressors
Do you tend to overschedule, procrastinate, overspend, have unrealistic expectations, or eat way too many holiday cookies? List the things that give you the most stress. Determine if they are a “must” or if you can make life a little easier on yourself by approaching these holiday stressors in a more proactive and healthy way.

Determine Your Priorities
Take the time to schedule your priorities. To do so, first list all your priorities from the most important to the least important based on necessity and what makes the season most meaningful. Take each one and assign it to someone and set a deadline. Seeing what is at the bottom of the list might help you shave things off. Involving others might make you realize that things that once seemed important are not so much anymore. This will help those that tend to overextend themselves. Procrastinators will benefit from starting early, pacing themselves, and adding some fun to those things they dread most.

Set a Budget
Do you know how much you devote to the holidays or do you endure the shock when you see your bank statement and credit card bills? We typically think about the cost of gifts for loved ones, but do you consider all the expenses? Adding up the cost of work gift exchanges; gifts for teachers, babysitters, or hostesses; charitable donations; hosting a dinner or party; decorations; holiday cards; gift boxes and wrapping; shipping and postage, and gas to travel out of town can be surprising. Setting a realistic budget will not only help you spend within your means, but it will help you figure out how much you need to save throughout the year so that you are not swiping that credit card. You might find that you need to cut back. Think of creative gift giving such as the gift of time, avoid impulse buying, and take the time to search for those deals.

Avoid Hectic Schedules
Sit down with family and discuss your calendar. Choose which events are the most special and eliminate those that are no longer as special. You don’t have to be going 24/7 during the holidays. To keep a regular schedule, determine what holiday tasks that you can fit into your existing routine and tackle one big task at a time. Don’t forget to rest and avoid the hustle and bustle that can get in the way of being present and enjoying the holiday moments.

Don’t Abandon Healthy Foods and Exercise
Holidays are times to enjoy good food with family and friends. But you don’t have to abandon healthy eating and exercise all together. Practice moderation by enjoying holiday foods on the specific holiday. Choose the foods you love and pass on the ones you don’t. Have healthy snacks available so you don’t grab sugary or fatty alternatives. And don’t forget to incorporate physical activity into your schedule. Make an appointment on your calendar like you would do any appointment and keep it.

Fight the Blues
Not everyone feels cheerful during the holidays. For some, it can be sad and lonely due to a loss of a loved one, being far from family, or difficult memories. This can sometimes leave people isolating themselves and avoiding interaction with others. If this is you, commit to attending some holiday events or celebrations. Find out who else might be alone during the holidays and have your own get together. Volunteer for a local charity; this not only puts things in perspective, but can lift one’s mood.

Navigating Family Conflict
If you don’t want to avoid your family during the holidays, but you do want to avoid conflict, ask those members if you can agree to set aside differences for the holidays. Stay away from controversial subjects, avoid criticizing, and be ready with a polite response if you are typically the receiver of criticisms. Know when to take a break.

A Time for Gratitude
The holidays are not like the movies or a picture in a magazine. Expecting too much from yourself and others can lead to disappointment. Evaluate your expectations and determine if they are realistic or not, if they are yours or someone else’s, if they are still feasible, and if they are within your control. Too much time working toward that perfect holiday might prevent you from really experiencing it. Instead, focus on what you are grateful for this season and write it down. You can then review your list or add to it if you find yourself back in the trap of what should be or what should have been.

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