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Personal Resilience in Project Management

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Project Management can be challenging at times, we all need the ability to keep going when things are not going to plan. This event was held on 19 March 2024.

The SWWE Branch were very pleased to welcome Emma-Jane Haigh, of Underscore Group, to talk to our members tonight about personal resilience, and offer tools and techniques for managing this in our stressful projects.

Emma-Jane started by asking the audience what they though resilience was, which generated lots of ideas. In some ways resilience is misnamed and could be renamed ‘endurance’
The resilience matrix includes coping with a situation, grit and determination, emotional intelligence to recognise what you and others are feeling, and sense making, explaining the reality of the situation to others in the team.

So, what can you do? Emma-Jane discussed 6 keys, including a shared sense of purpose and also looking after yourself outside of work, hobbies, sleep, exercise.

Managing your self and how you deal with stress is important. You need to recognise your stress triggers, both at work and at home. If we feel under stress, the flight, fight, freeze modes kick in and we cannot perform effectively.

Emma-Jane asked the audience to share their coping strategies, which included a walk outside, and planning on a Friday for next week.

We all can have two mind sets. The growth mind set which focusses on learning from feedback, wanting to develop, to keep trying, and the Fixed mindset where we prefer to stick to what we know, avoid challenges, I cannot do …… We need to be aware of our mindset to avoid limiting our beliefs, we need to be flexible and adaptable, we need to prioritise, and we need to build support networks to help us manage situations better by asking for help and advice.

From an organisational perspective, we need to create a culture where failure and problems can be discussed, where we can admit mistakes safely. To have positive conflict management, situational leadership and sense making to understand what is needed. Tools such as coaching and mentoring can really help.

Harvard Business Review research shows that well developed networks and relationships really help with personal resilience – we know we are not alone and can share issues. Resilience is a team sport; you cannot do it on your own. We need humour and empathy.

Tips to build and improve your personal resilience can include learning new skills at work or home, goal setting, monitoring your progress, planning for potential setbacks: i.e. Risk Management!

Wellbeing is important. Small things can help such as making your bed in the morning, having water before meals, exercise, cold showers, hiding your mobile phone! Planning for the next day at the end of the day, with refection time to unwind. Mindfulness techniques such as 4-7-8 breathing can help as well.

We finished the evening with a lively Q&A session and a lot of networking.

Martin Gosden
SWWE Events Co-ordinator

Emma-Jane has very kindly allowed her presented material to be made available for viewing. The slides on Slideshare are now available in our APM resources area and also embedded below for reference.

Emma-Jane Haigh, Head of Leadership Development, Underscore

Emma-Jane is a learning and development professional with over 20 years’ experience across a number of sectors.

She is committed to the development of people and believes that the mindset and behaviours of engaging leaders is the key to unlocking performance and potential.

Working with all levels, from young people starting their careers to company directors, Emma-Jane has experience in designing, developing, implementing and measuring the results of development and talent management strategies. Emma-Jane also works with individuals, coaching and supporting them to try different methods of leadership to improve performance and get the best from their team.

Qualified in the AQR Mental Toughness profiling tool she has designed, delivered and supported a number of Mental Health and Wellbeing programmes.

This event was suitable for all project professionals.


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