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How do we get our staff to fully engage at work?

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How do we get our staff to fully engage at work? To be solution focused and deal with challenges constructively?

ORANGES is a program that re-engages, inspires and motivates staff to be better, achieve more and work effectively together.

Over the coming months, we are going to break down the ORANGES program into ‘segments’ to understand their value and some of the tools they can offer staff. This month we will be looking at the power of optimism and how to become more resilient.

O stands for Optimism – People with an optimistic outlook identify solutions, possibilities and opportunity. Optimism enables us to keep things in perspective and see obstacles as something that can be overcome. So the more optimistic our staff are, the more productive and creative they will also be.


It is a myth to think we are optimists or pessimists. Our outlook is a consequence of our explanatory style; the way we perceive and interpret events around us. There are 3 dimensions known as the 3Ps – Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalisation.

Those with a more optimistic outlook believe negative events are often transitory, isolated and not their fault whereas those with a more pessimistic approach believe the opposite – the event is ongoing, wide spread and all down to them. The greater number of ‘Ps’ that are involved, the greater the effect. Here’s an example:

Negative event: Getting some negative feedback from a client


Optimistic style

Pessimistic style


“I obviously need to hone my skills”

“I’ll never be any good at dealing with clients”


“I know all my clients don’t think that”

“Just one more area I suck at!”


“At least its something I can change”

“I’m useless at customer service”

On the other hand, if the event is positive, the tables are turned. Those with a more optimistic outlook believe the event has some permanence, it impacts other areas of their life and it’s down to their effort. Those with a more pessimistic approach believe the opposite – the event is a one off, isolated and not just down to them. Here’s an example:

Positive event: Winning an award


Optimistic style

Pessimistic style


“This is awesome, hopefully it’s the start of things to come!”

“I just got lucky this time”


“I’m glad they can see how hard I work

“I wish they’d recognize my input in other areas too”


“I’m a hard worker and deserve success”

“It was a team effort”

So what can we do with this information? The following questions might help:

  • Is our view of the situation making us feel better or worse?
  • If it is the latter, which ‘Ps’ do we need to change to become more optimistic and therefore feel better?

Let’s take the example of someone interrupting you. A pessimistic view of the situation might be “no one ever listens to me” and the impact might be that I give up trying or become aggressive.

Is that interpretation making me feel better or worse, is it more or less motivating? Less, right? So I need to alter the 3 Ps:

  • no one = pervasiveness
  • ever = permanence
  • me = personalisation

Perhaps instead I could think “It’s sometimes difficult to convey a point when people don’t listen” I will hopefully then be more motivated to ask constructively for the other party to hear me out or try again to get my point across.

Simple changes in the way we interpret things can make all the difference.

Half-empty glassR stands for Resilience – Resilience is the capacity to withstand and adapt to the challenges that life throws at us. Resilient people and businesses fulfill their potential and see challenges as opportunities for growth and renewal.

billionphotos-1625368-largeResilience can be practiced through any strategy that helps us manage our emotions, dispute negative thoughts, implement coping strategies or increases the amount of positive emotions we experience.

Our level of resilience goes up and down depending on our circumstances eg. It is higher when we have just completed a successful project, lower if a project is not going well. We can however increase our level of resiliency through using some key tools.

One tool is the 4A’s advocated by Sue Langley of the Langley Group that allows us to navigate our emotions and take actions to feel better if the emotion is not serving us. Let’s take the example of change at work


How is this change making us feel physically, emotionally and mentally?


It’s OK to feel anxiety and stress


Question whether these emotions are serving us? If the answer is yes we can stop here and wallow for a while but if not…


It’s time to consider what we can do about the situation. Eg. Find out more information about how the change will impact us, get support from someone else, focus on what you can control etc in order to feel better/more empowered in the situation

Another strategy for improving resilience is to understand how we currently cope with challenges, stress and disappointment and how we can expand these coping strategies. There are 4 key areas:

  • Brain based strategies eg. Using re-framing techniques
  • Body based/physical strategies eg. Going for a run
  • Environment strategies eg. Sitting by the sea
  • Relationship strategies eg. Talking things over with someone

It’s interesting to analyse what our coping strategies are and in which areas we focus. The more strategies we have, the better equipped we are to deal with disappointment, frustration and change. We might also think of new/different strategies for different environments eg work/home/in public/in private so as to expand our repertoire of options.

Utlilising these options and skills can lead us to become more resilient in more situations. Give them a go!


Next month we will explore ‘Attitude’ and ‘Now’ (being present) and how we can expand our skills in these areas too.






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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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