Best practice report: Mental Toughness

February 23, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited

Example Cases

Valuable lessons can be learned from the following organisations: Massey University, New Zealand
Mental toughness used to teach entrepreneurship

To empower urban youth to be responsible for their own economic future, E City, a non-profit organisation in the United States, established an innovative 70-hour after-school programme to teach entrepreneurship and life skills. The programme was structured using the premise that inner-city kids with mental toughness, street smarts, survival instincts, and creativity could use  these  traits productively.  Students  were taught how a business operated, with emphasis being placed on the correlation between classroom learning and real-world experience. Students were given a $50 grant to buy products to be sold at a profit, while a mentor worked with each student to develop a business plan. At the end of the programme, students gave a PowerPoint presentation about their business idea to a panel of judges. Judges awarded cash prizes which the students could use to further advance their ideas. An important goal of the E City programme was for every participating student to graduate from high school and be accepted onto a four year college course. E City’s entrepreneurship curriculum was recognised nationally with a 2007 Pillar Award for Community Service. [24]

E City, United States
Benchmarking effective in educational setting

To empower urban youth to be responsible for their own economic future, E City, a non-profit organisation in the United States, established an innovative 70-hour after-school programme to teach entrepreneurship and life skills. The programme was structured using the premise that inner-city kids with mental toughness, street smarts, survival instincts, and creativity could use  these  traits productively.  Students  were taught how a business operated, with emphasis being placed on the correlation between classroom learning and real-world experience. Students were given a $50 grant to buy products to be sold at a profit, while a mentor worked with each student to develop a busi- ness plan. At the end of the programme, students gave a PowerPoint presentation about their business idea to a panel of judges. Judges awarded cash prizes which the students could use to further advance their ideas. An important goal of the E City programme was for every participating student to graduate from high school and be accepted onto a four year college course. E City’s entrepreneurship curriculum was recognised nationally with a 2007 Pillar Award for Community Service. [24]

Scripps Health System, United States
Organisational and personal resilience a platform for success

When Scripps Health System discovered it was not a resilient organisation, it attempted to remedy this by building a new organisational culture. Scripps understood the desired new culture could not be created by a simple senior management edict: deep cultural change needed to come from its medical personnel, frontline staff and managers. The new culture was built upon principles which underlie underlying resilient organisations, including:

  • transparency
  • honesty
  • consistency
  • continuous reflection on what worked well or did not work well
  • faith in leadership
  • pride in the organisation
  • continuous and effective real-time communication
  • accountability
  • compassionate leadership
  • stability, and
  • engagement.

To achieve this, Scripps established the following:

  1. A Physician Leadership Cabinet, which operated along the principles of a resilient organisation. Results exceeded expectations, and during the 14 years of its existence, Scripps has accepted 100 per cent of the recommendations coming from the Physician Leadership Cabinet.
  2. A Scripps Leadership Academy was established to build the organisation’s culture from an employee perspective. The Academy accepted 25 to 30 managerial and leadership-level participants to engage in one full-day session per month. The aim was to provide direct, person-to-person interaction and learning between senior leadership and high-potential managers. This built organisational trust, improved alignment among the business units, and created a high-performance culture.
  3. A  Scripps  Employee  100  programme,  designed to establish a culture of trust and resilience among frontline staff. Attendees were nominated by their managers to attend half-day sessions on a monthly basis over a period of six months.
  4. An employee assistance programme provided personal and confidential counselling, individual resilience education, and resilience-building techniques for individuals and work teams. A strong, resilient personal and organisational culture, combined with operational effectiveness, were believed to be mutually supportive. By becoming a resilient organisation, Scripps created a solid platform for success in the predicted times of dynamic change that lay ahead. [25]

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, United States
Mental resilience training hones performance

The United States Department of Defense employed a comprehensive soldier fitness programme at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, with the objective of improving the resilience of soldiers and their families. To help the soldiers perform better and with less stress in the face of adversity, the programme introduced methods for:

  • effectively promoting teamwork
  • managing physical energy
  • relaxing mind and body
  • setting and achieving realistic goals, and
  • using visual imagery to rehearse tasks and better focus attention when peak performance was of paramount importance.

Seasoned military personnel learned that through establishing routines and using powerful cue words, which were recited verbally or mentally, they could remain focused on necessary routines when under pressure. These skills helped to simplify procedures so the team’s attention, thinking and energy were fully aligned. [26].

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation, United Kingdom
Stress management initiatives reduce sick leave

Stress management initiatives were introduced at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation in the United Kingdom. Staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals were provided with access to counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), meditation, and hypnotherapy. They were also offered exercise classes, weight-loss sessions, and the services of a staff health and well-being centre. Nurses were able to receive help within 48 hours of requesting an appointment. These initiatives, which aimed to reduce stress and sickness leave, were the result of staff suggestions about the type of support needed, and were garnered during a review of the hospital’s occupational health services. Blackpool Teaching Hospitals wanted to help the workforce be more aware of their own health, and believed that healthy, happy staff would lead to healthy, happy patients. In addition to these initiatives, a revised induction programme was provided for all staff; management training courses were introduced; and car parking arrangements for nurses were improved. Sickness absence rates dropped from 5.34 per cent to 3.2 per cent. [10]

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