can you be too resilient?

It was around this time four years ago that I was exiting my corporate role in an organisation that I ‘grew up’ with.  Having spent 12 years there, it was time to escape the food industry otherwise I would have been there forever.

My business unit grew through acquisition to an animal.  From a single site with 250 people, over five years we stretched to a workforce of nearly 1000, four sites, and 200 temps a day.  Running 24/7 it really was a way of life, one that did not suit many.

To this day my advice to a budding HR professional who is considering the step into food manufacturing is “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere”.  It’s commonplace to have an extremely male-dominated culture, laser-focused on throughput/output with a workforce that can be transient; but for me, it was the absolute best thing for my career.

You would not think it now, but when I joined, I was quiet, lacked confidence, and wondered how on earth I was going to survive.  Coming from a large family helped, I had things to talk about, I found common interests with people, I would always listen.  I developed relationships which in turn helped me influence change.  The employee base and my role were diverse, which kept me interested.

My coping mechanism was to subconsciously develop a ‘coat of armor’ which meant things literally bounced off me.  We know that high levels of resilience are great in leadership roles, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Looking back, it made me ‘overly tolerant’ of adversity on several key occasions, things that I would not accept if they were to happen today.  When I do look back, I am most frustrated with myself for not taking a stand.

Over the last four years, I’ve softened to a degree (some would disagree!).  I certainly ‘feel’ a lot more these days, but I put that down to now having a family.  Sometimes I might even cry; I would have lost all credibility if that had happened back in employment.

Whilst the environment brought this trait to the surface it was clearly there to be awakened.  It has served me well in my personal life, I’ve bounced back from pretty horrendous situations and I wonder if I would have coped as well had I not had it, so it’s not all bad.

As with anything, it is important to maintain balance along with the ability to really look at yourself and learn from your past.

If you think you might need support, drop me an email

I’m a HR Consultant providing outsourced solutions to the SME market on a retained, project or ad hoc basis across the UK