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Everyone experiences stress at work. Maybe an impossible-to-please customer caused a ruckus in the dining room. Perhaps some ongoing disagreements with coworkers are bringing you down. Or, a supplies delivery didn’t come in time, and now you’re out of stock on a high-ticket item. Sometimes forces beyond your control create obstacles, adding more weight to your shoulders.

Resilience is important in the work environment because things don’t always go as planned. Being able to effectively deal with unforeseen work problems in a professional way and recover quickly from unfulfilled expectations are keys to effective performance.

The ability to bounce back from these setbacks quickly and continue upward and onward is what sets great employees apart from those who may not have the resilience to handle the stresses of day-to-day life.

The group of scales that make up a competency are shown visually in an assessment as a competency model. Colors indicate whether or not a candidate falls in a preferred range for each scale.

Research and experience shows that accurately measuring how well a person handles work-related frustrations and disappointments relies primarily on these three scales:

  1. Optimism
    It may be safe to say that if a person has a negative outlook on life, it could easily impact their job performance, but how? What differences should you see in a generally positive employee compared to one who is easily frustrated or lets the little things stress them out?When an employee lands on the low end of this scale, they tend to have a more cynical outlook on situations and even other people. Their mood might be brought down easily over setbacks or obstacles that aren’t as foreboding as they seem, and recovery time from these obstacles might very well take longer than they should. These employees are overall more sensitive to situations beyond their control, and often their negativity affects work relationships.A much more consistent outlook is seen on the higher end of the scale. Employees here can maintain a positive mindset when faced with unexpected defeats in the workplace. When they are affected by obstacles, they have a much quicker bounce-back time than those who score in the lower range of this scale. The ability to keep a cheerful frame of mind at work when things don’t go as planned is the cornerstone of resilience.
  2. Criticism Tolerance
    It’s not always bad to take things to heart, but when does this trait become a hindrance in the workplace?On the low end of Criticism Tolerance, employees may take feedback as an indication of self-worth. They are sensitive to dissatisfaction from coworkers and customers and may be overly defensive when confronted with criticism, focusing on protecting themselves rather than resolving their performance issues. Because these employees are overtly receptive to others’ attitudes, they may have a harder time communicating in a straightforward way when giving feedback.Accepting criticism as constructive and looking at situations objectively rather than personally are the traits to expect from those who fall on the high end of this spectrum. These employees are likely to seek feedback so they can improve their job performance and develop skills. Because of these tendencies, they’re likely to give more direct feedback without “beating around the bush” in discussion.
  3. Self-Control
    When something doesn’t go according to plan, do your employees react impulsively and unpredictably, or can they keep their cool and think before reacting?The closer employees fall on the low end of this scale, the more likely they are to express their feelings and show lots of enthusiasm. However, oftentimes these employees are seen as immature or impulsive. Because these people are more inclined to readily express themselves, there is a higher chance of them saying something they may regret later.The last thing you want in your organization is an employee to say regrettable things to a customer and have the company suffer a bad reputation because of it.Higher-range employees show restraint during frustrating and discouraging situations, a significant attribute when measuring a person’s resilience. They are recognized as more mature and responsible, and they have a better handle on knowing when to express their emotions. Although employees topping out on this scale might show signs of being uptight and “all business,” overall, more beneficial behaviors are likely in this range.

Since these scales provide insight on how a person’s outlook and sensitivity play a role in the workplace, they help give clues and predictions on how a person is likely to react to unexpected obstacles in your organization, and how it might affect their performance.

The ability to maintain an objective and optimistic outlook even when times are tough is essential in any workplace environment. Positive, helpful, and encouraging employees with the right amounts of resilience can be some of the most important assets in your organization. When uncontrollable forces cause hold-ups at work, know you can count on your employees to persevere and continue to strive for growth.

To learn more about using competency models to predict success, download our Competency Spotlight eBooks for Corporate Managers, Retail Managers, or Restaurant Managers.

The Competency Spotlight series focuses on the personality traits measured by OutMatch assessments, and how these traits impact performance. No one measure can say with 100% accuracy how an employee will behave, but considering these competencies can help you identify candidates that are ‘prewired’ to be successful in a particular job type.

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