Reframing resilience: Navigating challenges in internal communications with intention and support.


Resilience is more than carrying on, whatever’s thrown at you…
Ahead of her resilience breakout session at the CIPR Summit, wellbeing coach and Chart.PR Fiona Hatton explains why resilience can be a tricky subject and how internal communicators are drawing on their reserves as they are being asked to do more than ever before…

Your CIPR Inside Summit breakout session is all about building resilience. But you have a bit of a problem with the whole concept of being resilient. Tell us more…  

I do! Sometimes resilience seems to be yet another thing that we should be doing better. That if we are overloaded or facing challenges, we should just get on with it. And if we’re not ploughing through and bouncing back immediately, we’re not resilient enough. 

That’s not what resilience means to me. I actually think it’s more about being able to step out of a challenging situation and give yourself the space (and support) you need to make good decisions about it. Your decision might be that you won’t carry on as before. I think as long as that’s an intentional choice and it’s been made for the right reasons, that can actually show great resilience.

You’ve had your own experience of drawing on your resilience to get through a tricky time. What happened?

Working in internal communications can sometimes feel like you’re being pulled in lots of different directions. I found myself in a role with so many competing priorities that it was almost impossible to know where to focus. I suddenly realised that I had never learned to prioritise - and that I had two settings - now or never. So whenever work came in, I tried to get it done as soon as possible, however important it was. 

I could have carried on like that, and perhaps that would have been resilient? But for me it was an absolute recipe for overwhelm. Very luckily, I went on some training for line managers that was designed to help your team manage their workloads (the irony that I couldn’t manage my own workload is not lost on me). It was life changing (this is no exaggeration!) I learnt about how to prioritise using the Eisenhower Matrix, which encourages you to make a judgement on how important or urgent something really is. I use it just about every day to decide where to focus so I’m always working on what really matters. And having that clear direction makes it so much easier for me to be resilient when something truly important or urgent arrives.

What is it about internal communications that means we need to be more resilient?

I was an internal communicator before and after Covid. Don’t get me wrong, it has always been a very busy and challenging area to work in. But before the pandemic, we were fighting to be seen as a trusted advisor. Covid turned that around and leaders relied on IC teams more than ever to deliver challenging messages, manage crisis communication and help colleagues to navigate complex organisational change.  

We worked at such a pace and the hours were really long. I’m not sure that we have returned to a more sustainable way of working - there’s definitely an expectation that we’ll carry on in the same way. And so it’s really important that we find the individual things that help us to feel more resilient. 

How can IC professionals identify and leverage their own strengths and resources to boost their resilience?

There’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach - we’re all different and what works for one person might not work for another. However, the Roffey Park Institute has some great insight into five different areas that could help to build resilience: 

Physical energy
Purpose, values and strengths
Emotional intelligence

During my CIPR Inside Summit breakout session, we’ll spend time thinking about how to make the most of the areas where we’re already strong, and an area we’d like to develop (and how!)

Fiona Hatton is a wellbeing coach, yoga teacher and communicator: supporting amazing people who've gone on to change careers, say goodbye to toxic workplaces, and make big life decisions about where (and how) they want to live. Visit Yoco Studio for more information.

Fiona will be delivering the Understanding resilience (and developing yours) breakout session at the CIPR Inside Summit on Tuesday 19 March. Book your tickets now.