The resilience lessons we can learn from Alan Partridge

1 Mar 2019 By Emma Yearwood

Emma Yearwood explains what businesses can learn about bouncing back from everyone’s favourite Norfolk-based TV personality

Aha! After more than 20 years off terrestrial TV, Alan Partridge has returned. Despite the ups and, mostly, downs of the beloved TV buffoon, you can’t fault his determination. 

From his divorce, taking up residence at the Linton Travel Tavern, and even being held hostage at North Norfolk Digital, Alan hasn’t stopped in his quest for fame. This is the kind of resilience we all strive for and there’s a lot to be taken from Alpha Papa’s ability to stay positive, despite all the challenges he has faced.

Knowing me, knowing you

But first, it’s important to recognise that resilience can be a difficult thing to manage in a business. Depending on the way it’s approached, it can come across like the company is simply telling its staff to ‘toughen up’. If this happens, employees can become disengaged and demotivated by the resilience strategies being offered. 

Because no matter how resilient a person is, everyone has their limit. Most tasks won’t be as difficult as driving to Dundee in your bare feet, but staff will still need time to rebuild themselves after experiencing a knock. That’s why any good resilience programme needs to be supported with wellbeing and mental health initiatives. This way, employees will not only learn techniques to manage stressful situations but will also know that the business will be there for them, should things become too much. 

Splendid and tremendous 

In simple terms, resilience training and support needs to be an ongoing thing; limiting it to a single training session will not provide the continual support that staff need. So, checking in and providing support or advice on a regular basis will enable the business to support the team in a way that encourages growth and positive thinking.

It’s then a case of making sure people have ways of managing the situations that could challenge their resilience. For some, it’s as simple as chatting to their colleagues, grabbing a Flavia coffee (good call) or going to the gym after work to relieve any frustration. Others may need a bit more in-the-moment support, though, like help with juggling multiple tasks or learning how to respond to challenging emails and conversations. 

Jurassic Park!

But resilience isn’t just about managing situations like the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre; it’s also about making sure that staff feel prepared for the future. The ability to deal with stress, cope with setbacks and stay strong even when things are tough are all markings of future leaders. By working on their resilience, employees will get the skills they need to manage difficult situations and to lead teams, coach juniors and manage clients much more effectively. 

They’ll also feel much more confident about dealing with the day-to-day challenges at work. As a result, staff will feel happier, more motivated and generally positive about their future in the business, leading to improved retention and progression – textbook.  

So, whether challenges are as big as a 20ft chicken or as small as a glass of Bailey’s, making sure employees can manage the stresses of the day and also develop techniques to respond to difficult situations in the future is not only brilliant for the business, but also boosts retention, progression and general wellbeing. Alan’s recent success should be seen as a good example to all of us: no matter how challenging work situations can be, there is always potential to be ruddy brilliant.

Emma Yearwood is director of HR at Sodexo Engage

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