How To Overcome Adversity in the Workplace (With Example)

Adversity in the workplace is a difficulty or challenge that can affect a single employee, a team or an entire business. Here are a few of the causes of workplace adversity: Ineffective management: One situation that can cause workplace adversity is poor management.

Margolis found the incident to be eye-opening, possibly as a result of the fact that it happened while the country was still reeling from 9/11 and the economy was in free fall. Margolis, the James Dinan and Elizabeth Miller Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, said, “That was actually the moment that got me to reflect on how the world was changing, [including] the world sitting in front of me in classrooms.”

A shaky global economy, an increasingly globalized business environment, and rapidly evolving technologies present managers with significant challenges. In that dynamic environment, a curveball can appear from anywhere: Some of their businesses might abruptly cease to exist, budget-cutting layoffs might be imminent, or strategic plans that made sense in the past might require significant revision to remain competitive in our increasingly mobile, Internet-dependent society.

Margolis, who co-authored How to Bounce Back from Adversity in the Harvard Business Review with PEAK Learning CEO Paul G Stoltz examined how employees could meet challenges head-on by strengthening their fortitude, developing a repertoire of abilities that enable them to bounce back quickly, and responding positively to adversity.

“A lot of tough stuff hits us,” he told participants. “If you’re in this room, you’re facing challenges. You are being asked to complete more tasks in less time. You are in charge of people who also experience hardships and challenges they have never experienced before. How can I increase my own resilience and that of the people I work with?

According to Margolis, many of us react ineffectively when faced with adversity. “If the car is spinning out of control, it grips our jugular of emotion and makes this negative feeling course through our veins,” she said. We feel deflated and victimized,” he said. We examine our actions and think, “Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, but it’s so much tastier if we can lay blame on someone.” ”.

• Let go of the issue emotionally: According to Margolis, you should first identify the emotion you’re experiencing, label it, and “give yourself a time out” (based on Bruce Cryer, Rollin McCraty, and Doc Childre’s Harvard Business Review article Pull the Plug on Stress). ” Margolis said. Next, assume your best stance, close your eyes, and imagine that your heart is your source of breathing. Third, elicit a joyful feeling by recalling a happy memory or something for which you are grateful. (Margolis likes to picture his daughter spinning around with a smile on her face, or he imagines a pivotal Red Sox game and a slide into base that helped the team come back from a 0-3 deficit. ) Finally, ask yourself what you could do. According to research Margolis conducted with Francesca Gino and Ting Zhang, “Asking people to consider what they could do instead of asking what they should do helps them come up with more thoughtful solutions,” he said.

3. Consider what you can do to minimize the potential downside and to maximize the potential upside. Think about how big or bad you think the problem is, and whether it’s something that could have a significant impact on all of your activities. Baby steps count, so even if you can think of something that only makes things better by 10%, that’s still progress. Think about the assets and skills you and your team can acquire by resolving the problem. Together, decide what each member of the team can do to improve the likelihood that everything will turn out well.

4. Think about what you want the business to look like on the other side of the challenge and determine how long you think the situation will last. Think about what you can do over the next four hours to advance that goal. Create a plan of action and ongoing procedure for handling the setback. Keep your team members informed and ask for their input.

It is preferable to adopt a collaborative strategy by prodding staff members to consider how they can move toward resolving their own issues through questions. It’s a subtle change in roles: As a manager, you are shifting your perspective from: How can we use this hill to build your capacity to get over the next one? to: How can we use this hill to build your capacity to get over the hill.

Thriving in the Face of Adversity | Stephanie Buxhoeveden | TEDxHerndon

Types of workplace adversity

Here are some examples of the typical challenges encountered at work:

What is adversity in the workplace?

Workplace adversity is a challenge or difficulty that can impact an individual employee, a team, or an entire company. Here are a few of the causes of workplace adversity:

How to overcome adversity in the workplace

Here are some actions you can take to deal with and overcome difficulty at work:

1. Identify the adversity

Identifying those involved and the type of adversity the company is facing is the first step in overcoming workplace adversity. You can develop objectives and approaches to deal with adversity by recognizing the elements listed below:

Tim, a worker for a sales company, encounters emotional hardship, such as annoyance with his job and disinterest in his work. He realizes that a sales quota that seems insurmountable is the root of his difficulties. Tim’s boss notices the stress the adversity is causing him by looking at his sales performance indicators.

2. Identify soft skills you can use to solve issues

Finding your strengths that can be applied to overcoming challenges at work is the next step in handling and overcoming adversity in the workplace. Here are a few illustrations of soft skills and character qualities you can employ to overcome difficulty:

Tim and his manager, for instance, begin addressing Tim’s problem with the sales quota by considering how they can use their individual abilities and character traits to overcome the difficulty. Tim is open to accepting responsibility for his poor sales performance and adaptable when it comes to implementing new tactics to meet the challenge of his high sales quota. Additionally, his boss is open to seeing the challenge as an opportunity rather than a problem. Both have the determination to address the issue proactively. They arrange a meeting to talk about potential fixes for the problem.

3. Set a goal for overcoming the adversity

You can set a goal to make things better after you have a better understanding of the difficulty and have identified the abilities you can use to overcome it. Setting a goal can assist you in figuring out how to deal with challenges. You can ensure your goal has the following attributes:

Tim and his manager, for instance, go over Tim’s sales figures and quota during their meeting. Tim complains to his manager about the high sales targets, and his manager demonstrates active listening skills to comprehend Tim’s viewpoint. Tim’s manager justifies the high quota but acknowledges the difficulty it presents. Instead of reducing the quota, the two choose to assess Tim’s overall workload to see if any of his tasks could be transferred to other departments. They determine that Tim could delegate forecasting and administrative work to others so that he could devote more of his time and energy to selling.

Tim and his manager established a target for Tim to meet at least 75% of his sales quota for the current month at the conclusion of the meeting. To review Tim’s performance, they resolve to meet again the following month.

4. Choose a strategy to address the adversity

The next step is to choose a plan of action to deal with the challenge. Here are some common strategies for addressing workplace adversity:

Tim, for instance, leaves the meeting with the conviction that he can handle a lower quota with more time for sales. He’s determined to approach his sales duties in a constructive manner. In order to improve the effectiveness of his workflows and achieve his goal, he is also open to trying out various methods.

5. Implement strategy

You can put the strategies into practice once you’ve determined how to overcome obstacles. You can evaluate your feelings toward adversity at the end of each day to see if the stress-reduction techniques you’re employing are effective.

For instance, Tim invests more time in sales to meet his lowered quota by the end of the month. In order to lessen his frustration and disengagement, he approaches his work with a positive outlook.

6. Evaluate results

You can assess the success of your efforts to overcome adversity once you’ve met the deadline you set to accomplish your goal. Even if you didn’t achieve your initial goal, it’s important to maintain your positive attitude because some forms of workplace adversity can take longer to address. Instead, it’s crucial to acknowledge progress made along the way in order to keep a positive outlook. The following can be assessed to determine whether your efforts were successful:

Example: Tim and his manager discussed his performance the following month. Tim increased his sales and achieved the lower quota his manager had set thanks to a lighter workload. As Tim continued to adjust to the changes in his role, they decided to maintain the lower sales quota for the following month. Tim also consented to keep seeing his manager until he consistently met his sales quota in order to make sure their strategies were still effective.

7. Preventing future adversity

Even though facing some level of adversity in the workplace is inevitable, knowing how to avoid it in the future can help you avoid obstacles along the way. Experiencing the same problems repeatedly may indicate that it’s time to review your approach. You can use the following tips to prevent workplace adversity:

As they talked about and dealt with Tim’s adversity, Tim’s manager developed their coaching abilities. His manager decided to speak with the team members more frequently as a result of the incident to keep morale high.

Tips for overcoming adversity

The following advice can help you get past obstacles at work:

Try to separate logic from emotion

The workplace can cause emotional reactions, which can make it harder to overcome these challenges. You can start to consider solutions by separating your rational thoughts about the problem from your emotional reactions to it. You can apply this tip by considering adversity in the following ways:

Consult a mentor

To prevent feelings of loneliness and stress, you can discuss the challenges you are facing at work with a professional mentor. As you attempt to deal with workplace adversity, a mentor can offer you guidance on how to approach the situation and emotional support.

Practice positivity

Being optimistic is crucial to overcoming adversity in the workplace because it can cause an emotional reaction. Here are some tips for practicing optimism:


How do you deal with adversity in the workplace interview question?

How to answer “Tell me about a time you faced adversity”
  1. Choose an experience that shows resiliency. …
  2. Provide context for the specific situation. …
  3. Explain your roles and responsibilities. …
  4. Detail the action you took to face adversity. …
  5. Describe the positive results you produced.

What are some examples of adversity?

The 6 Types of Adversity
  • Physical Adversity. Physical disability is an example of physical adversity.
  • Mental Adversity. A mental problem, or mental illness, may limit someone.
  • Emotional Adversity. …
  • Social Adversity. …
  • Spiritual Adversity. …
  • Financial Adversity.

What is the most common adversity?

10 Ways Successful People Push Through Adversity
  1. Find your sense of humor. …
  2. Be mentally prepared. …
  3. Take stock of all you’ve been through already. …
  4. Adversity offers valuable insights. …
  5. Make peace with the situation. …
  6. Embrace adversity as a chance for opportunity. …
  7. Refuse to give up. …
  8. Have a purpose.

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