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If you start each day — or even each meeting — curious for opportunities to bring even more resilience to yourself or your team, you will see them.

In this episode

Resilience is a business buzzword, but it can be difficult to define what it looks like in a team setting without actionable advice.

One of the best ways for leaders to foster resilience is by creating a resilience plan to manage workplace demands.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier shares how her experience as a workplace psychologist has impacted the way she approaches resilience, and how your team can benefit from fully comprehending it. 

Throughout her career in business management and psychology, Dr. Pelletier has spearheaded the dialogue surrounding leadership resilience and workplace health. With her extensive background in corporate, insurance, governance and public sectors, she brings national and international perspectives on mental health and resilience. 

She is a bilingual practicing psychologist with over 20 years of experience and holds a Ph.D. and MBA from the University of British Columbia. She has presented and authored and co-authored a number of industry and academic publications and has won numerous academic and industry awards.

In episode #172, Dr. Pelletier discusses tips from her new book, The Resilience Plan, how priming is a scientifically proven way to form new habits, and how to manage when facing stress in the workplace. 

Tune in to hear all about Dr. Pelletier’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!


Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


03:10

Psychologist to executive coach

06:30

Own all parts of what you’re doing

13:00

Create plans for resilience

26:26

Managing workplace stress

30:10

Benefit from prioritization

34:45

How to use priming techniques


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Transcript

Marie-Helene , welcome to the show.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  02:57

Aydin, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:59

Yeah, very excited to do this with you. I know that you started out your career as a psychologist, right? Yes. What happened? Like how did you switch from being a psychologist to I mean, I think all these things that you do are related. But talk to me about did you not like it? Did you like it a lot? And how did you end up to where you are as an executive coach, you teach at UBC, you’re an author, which we’re going to talk about how do you make that shift?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  03:26

I know in there is a story. So originally from Quebec City, and my husband, Nick worked in mining early in our life together was still together. But that means we lived and worked in northern Quebec. And so from there, I decided that I wanted to do a PhD, I was interested in UBC. And having lived in northern regions, I thought I want to look for ways to bring expertise to people who don’t have it on site, which led to me doing 20 years ago, research in telehealth, where we were providing therapy via video conferencing, which at the time, internet was not fast enough, I yet had to use six telephone lines to transmit video and audio data. It was a big deal at the time. It also required me to do a lot of management of people and money, which then led me to say, I love management, then did the MBA. And so that’s how these two things came together. And then a lot of my career was in leadership roles from very junior to C suite. And then my current work naturally evolved out of this where like I say, I do coaching the speaking and they still have a small practice as psychologist

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:35

and that’s awesome into one of the questions we like to ask is for people trying to remember like if you could think back to the very early days and when you first started to manage or lead a team. Do you remember some of the early mistakes that used to make?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  04:50

Yes, yes, there could be many, many. One of them is one of my first leadership roles was managing a call center and if anyone’s ever managed a call center. It is like entering an actual fire every single day. This is a call center type operation. But early, early in this role, many things needed to change as when the flipped me in this particular role. And some of these changes were difficult for everyone, but they still needed to happen. And so many things needed to happen. At the same time, I could find all kinds of reasons why this happened this way, I did not pay as much attention as I later learned. And now due to all the stakeholders, and protecting the integrity of all the stakeholders, as at times were needing to implement changes that they would have preferred not to see, for example, being laid off in some cases. So that was an early learning. And you think, right, as a psychologist, someone for whom people is very important, even if you have this kind of training, in the end, as managers as leaders, the main thing we are is ourselves as humans. And as such, I had to learn this. Yeah. So

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  06:05

do you remember what happened? Or if the if there’s a story of what happened, where you realize that you need to, to maybe approach things differently?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  06:14

Yes, in this particular example, what happened is, we were changing the structure of how things were going to go. And that meant that a specific individual needed to be laid off. And there were many people involved in this. And so many things needed to happen. Another individual ended up doing the layoff, and they did it in their way and their style. And all this. However, I was the one I was the leader of this team. But I was a new, younger, early career and all this. So I did not assert No, no, I’m the one that has to do this. I let it be done by other people. So they did it in their way, which is not how I would do it now moving forward. And so it created pain, basically, in the the one individual who was let go, which was not necessary could have been done differently. And so learned that the loan that you really want to own all the aspects of what you’re doing, if someone else is going to do something under your leadership, then you really want to make sure it’s aligned with your values and how you’d like it to happen.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:21

Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Yeah, this is obviously one of the most difficult part of the role and shying away from this might be a place where it’s almost like a default, you want to avoid the pain. And if you can, someone else can do it. But you’re right. Sometimes it’s just part of the job and taking on the responsibility, or at least making sure you’re highly aligned, like you said, can make a big difference.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  07:43

Yes, because it sends a message to the rest of the team and how, how we will work together moving forward. Everything counts as a as a manager, you’re onstage in a number of ways, right?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:54

Yeah, yeah, no, this is very true. So I wanted to talk about your book. So it’s called the resilience plan, it comes out 2024, February 6, and you have it nicely laid out in your background. Why did you want to write this book,

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  08:10

it appeared, it appeared. And because a lot of my work, and whether it’s in my executive coaching, or in my psychology practice is with professionals and leaders, many leaders, all levels of leadership, early career mid career later, career ended career like it’s all of this. And they are, of course, extremely resilient and capable and resourceful in all these things. But being human at times, they are running into a very challenging situation that they’re seeking an outside resource to help them with. And many times I’ve had individuals come to me and say, Ah, I do not understand what my problem is. I have been wanting all these things that are happening, say in my workplace, I’m enjoying this, I’ve got all the skills to do it yet. I am feeling extremely unhappy, this satisfied this is not working well. And they’re almost in a way saying it can’t be just resilience, like I am already resilient. And why would I have to invest in this? And then I started trying to pick it up from how they see it. I said, Okay, wait a second. In your own business. If you’re launching a new product, would you just say, Yeah, I have an idea for a new product. Moving on, let’s launch it, or would you say, Okay, I have an idea for a new product. And let’s look at what else is out there. Who else is doing anything close to this? Who is buying it for how much which forces in the near future or distant future may influence it? You would look at all this the context. And so then that’s what I bring here that I would bring into the conversation. I would say, you’re right. It’s not extremely complex, but we do need to take your context into account and that’s what’s not Not happening right now. And each time it would suddenly start making sense, it would not take forever to deal with it, and it would work. So the natural next step with this was, okay, where does that go? Imagine if I can bring this information in the hands of even more people earlier, university libraries, University Counseling Centers, early career, ideally, but for all of us anywhere we are, then it can bring this information even earlier in people’s hands. And so that’s how the book emerged.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:34

I’d love to go through an example or a story, you know, it could be fictional, but just to really hit the point home of how you bring in the context, like you mentioned, and just to understand, like, an example of how this conversation might play out,

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  10:50

yes, absolutely. I worked with someone who had been in a leadership role for probably 1012 years, very good, younger executive and worked really well. However, she got to a point where she would literally say, My schedule is outside of my control, I’ve lost any kind of control over all the things that need to happen, I am running everywhere, trying to hit all the things, nothing feels satisfying, or that I’m like leading it, actually, it’s not working. And so we used this framework, which allowed us to make sure we would understand, yes, her context, as well as start from her values, because that’s where similar to in business, right, we would start from our values as an organization, same here, looking also very realistically at all the demands she was facing, both personally and professionally. So even though it’s a focus on work, the reality is our personal demands are also piling up on the same list over here, right? Our sources of supply, so we explored or all this. And so for her, she was crystal clear, like most of us that, for example, that was part of her strategy, she was crystal clear that she needed to bring back exercise in her life, she was aware of the research that it acts as a natural antidepressant, that it is one of the things that will allow us to be even more efficient, couldn’t do any of this. So then we looked with the reality of her context, how she could make this happen. And so for her, it meant not starting with the recommendations, we see all the time, five times half an hour per week, but instead, bring it back gradually, in a way that worked for her in what had worked for her five years earlier that she had let go, let’s to get off and the train that she was taking to get back home a couple of stops earlier and add this walk back home, she didn’t feel she had the energy didn’t really want to do this. And it was raining or snowing a lot of the time. But she decided to commit to this at least once a week. And that was realistic, doable. She knew she could do it. She’s done it before. But here’s the thing, then because it’s all aligned with her particular context in the realistic way she could implement it. And then what happens when we start doing these things, we’ve experienced that before, it basically increases our sense of self efficacy. Okay, wait a second, I believe I can influence this. And the more and we know this from research, the more we increase our self efficacy over here, it increases our optimism that we may do this again in the future. And that changes things. And the beautiful thing with this particular individual is that I worked with her, at some point in time did her plan and she implemented it, she happened to through her employer attend another workshop where we talked exactly about this that I was giving. So she came and said hello and all. And she decided to do the exercise again four months later, and realize how she was very excited because the plan that she designed four months later was very different from what she had done four months earlier, because she had successfully attained her goal and implemented that one. So she was ready for the same way. Like in business, we create a strategy, we evolve it over time, she was ready for her next evolution. That’s an example of how we’ve implemented it.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:14

That’s awesome. And so do you know what the next plan looks like?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  14:18

Yes, part of what? I don’t remember the detail, and I don’t have it in front of me. But what I do know is that a big direction of her first plan was to take back some control her overall schedule, it had other elements to it. And she did. What she then realized was that she wanted to invest in her next career step, which meant in her new plan, that one of the pillars was to have even better boundaries, so that she would continue to deliver and be fabulous at what she does. And instead of overly investing, keeping some of her energy and time and focus to start planning for her next step. That was one of the newer parts of her plan.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:58

That makes a lot of sense. So this is why I wrote the book. And so is the idea behind the book to effectively like teach people how to create these plans for themselves.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  15:07

Yes, as simple as this. And once you’ve done one, and even the first one does not take that long, I’ve got exercises at the end of each chapter in the book itself. If you’re having a bit of a longer flight, you’ll be able to read it in the flight. But once you’ve done this once, building the next versions does not take a lot of time. Yet it changes everything. Because now you’ve got clarity on your direction, you know what your priorities are? They’re all aligned with actions and tactics that are doable for you, because they’re customized for you. And it works.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:41

Yeah, that’s awesome. So let’s talk about the definition. I mean, the title of the book is the resilience plan. So we’re talking about this in terms of how you can build something for yourself. But I assume, obviously, this also applies to the workplace, you know, maybe you can use some of the strategies for people on your team? Or how do you think about bringing this more directly into the workplace?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  16:05

Yeah, but each person can use it, it is designed a bit more for an individual to do. And the logic for this is that individual team organizational societal resilience for that matter. They’re all connected, influence each other. And so in this particular book, there may be another one in the future, we’ll see. But for this one, it is a bit more on the individual piece, because it will influence everything. That being said, there’s a chapter about team resilience in there as well. And some examples of what we want to consider to increase further our team resilience is. So first, a resilient team is not a group of individually resilient people. So it refers to the ability of the team to go through adversity and come out even stronger. Number one, number two, two main things will have an influence here on the effectiveness of the team. Overall, one of them is clarity on the goals we have. So if we have many projects clarity on each of them, because with that clarity, we will all adapt to reach these goals. And the second thing is psychological safety. And a big part of this is being able to support each other, acknowledging the challenges we may be going through. So if I take this down to a concrete action we could consider for ourselves as managers is, instead of always, sometimes the natural tendency will be to project an image of being a rock that is unmoved by anything, always very common thing. That’s not real. Number one, we are not rocks, and the one on the team is and if we’re trying to be that it’s unfortunate, we’re missing part of the human experience. So a concrete example may be that even if say you’re doing pretty good today and feeling pretty strong, you still also when someone asks you how you’re doing, also talk about some of the challenges, things that are not so easy right now, a bit stressful. And so as you’re doing this, you’re modeling literally, for the team, a culture where we are aware number one of the range of emotions or demands we may be facing, we are openly sharing it. So showing some degree Yes, some level of vulnerability, such that you will then increase trust that they have in you and you have in them. And together all this increases our overall resilience. So that’s an example could be as simple as making sure you share something that’s not going well.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  18:42

I think it’s a very important point, as you mentioned, that the resilience of the team isn’t necessarily just the resilience of each and every person individually. Team resilience is something else. And that’s it good trap tactical thing that people can apply, which is being able to share each other’s vulnerabilities. Are there other practices or when I think about resilience, I think about, you know, even when things go wrong, we will be okay, more often than not so almost like a backup plan or a way to deal with things when they do happen. What are other ways that you can think about building resiliency into your teams?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  19:21

Yeah. Thank you. That’s a great example. Because yes, number one, planting this expectation that almost like persuading our brains in advance that yes, we will figure it out. We may not know the solution right now, but we will. That’s one that you mentioned. Here’s another one. Often as teams we will eventually go through a fairly demanding or challenging situation. Most teams right now following something like this. Of course they manage during as best as they can, and after they will debrief right make sense. Now here’s a couple of things to consider earlier and within the after phase. As of today, let’s say Right now we are not right in the middle of one of those crisis, we can sit with the team and discuss when is the next most demanding time, or what kind of thing could happen at an unpredictable moment that couldn’t bring us in a high demand phase. We know that will happen. But often because we can’t pinpoint exactly, we hope they won’t happen or tell ourselves, we’ll just manage it when we get there. Let’s be proactive in thinking in advance of what this can happen. You’d be surprised at how many people know whether regardless of the industry, they’re in the know that say March is always an extremely busy time, or wherever whenever time of the year it is. And instead of potentially thinking in advance of how we can make it even better for everyone, they just see it as a phase where they just have to put their head down and manage going through, we can often actually plan in advance to make aspects of this much easier, which then retains everyone’s resilience even better in case something else happens. So that’s an example. Another example is we do the debrief usually after what could we have learned done better, that kind of thing. Let’s add to the debrief, more people to think if we look at how we ended up managing through this thing, who helped us who were in other teams that just came out of nowhere and said, let me help you with this, I’ll take this away from you, I’ll deal with it, or someone who just for you, personally, I mentor you connected with that happened to be very helpful, or a team member that went above and beyond. Taking even more moments for the technical term here is recognition, which we know from research will increase resilience, decrease risk of burnout, increased civility and respect in the workplace, and increased psychological safety costs, nothing is just a matter of having it on our list. Because if it’s not on our list, we’re so busy in stuff like we we don’t agree with it, we just move on to the next thing.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:07

Hey, everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about something that we’ve been working on that we’re super excited about. It’s no secret that, you know, meetings have been on the rise since the pandemic, there’s studies that showed that in some organizations, people are spending as much as 250% more time in meetings. And there hasn’t been a solution out there to really tackle this problem. At its heart, some companies are doing interesting things. Shopify, for example, is now incorporating a meeting cost calculator into all of the meetings that are booked. And so whenever someone’s trying to book a meeting, they get to see the cost of that meeting. And what we’ve decided to do at Fellow is take this idea of a meeting cost calculator, and make it available for everyone for free. And we’re calling it our meeting cost calculator, it integrates with your Google Calendar. So if you’re on a Google Calendar, what you can do is go to Fellow.app/calculator. And what it’s going to do is it’s this extension, you install it super easy. And when you do, you’ll be able to see the costs of every meeting that you’re attending. And so what this does at an organizational level, and it’s very easy to install organization wide, your IT administrator can very easily do this. And when you do this, every person in your company, when they’re about to book a meeting, they’ll be able to see the cost of that particular meeting. And really, the intention here is to make it easy for people to really think carefully about the people that the invite to the meeting how large the meeting is going to be. And really the purpose and make sure that time that is organized through this meeting is actually going to be time well spent. And so we’re very excited to announce this, it’s easy to get, you can go to Fellow.app/calculator, get the extension and get it for your team. It’s free to use. And if you like what you see there, we have a series of other things that we built along these lines with that extension. We’re calling the meeting guidelines. And it’s a series of other things that helped change organizational behavior around meetings in your company. But start with a calculator. It’s really cool. And when you try it, let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the episode. Also in the sense of sharing vulnerability can help build trust. I would imagine it again, if people get into a practice of gratitude or showing appreciation this also helps in that sense and like strengthens the bonds in between people. And then in moments where, you know it is a crisis moment or the team is stress, then there’s going to be more likelihood that people will come in and have each other’s backs and be able to carry through

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  24:59

100 percent. And this is not just sounding good or soft or whatever it has been observed by research. And we know our brains respond better. You may also have heard this in conversations related to emotional intelligence, and the importance of being in tune with where are we at as leaders and also where others are at and the impact of our interactions. So we actually know from research that when we’re taking a moment, even from a self compassion perspective, realizing how I’m feeling and considering my feeling as valid. So I’m feeling stressed. So I acknowledge it. And yes, I consider it as valid given all the demands. What happens there as opposed to just feeling anxious and not doing this part of the process is that we’re going from an alarm system in the brain and saying, oh, wait a second, I may just looks like she’s super stressed. If I’m acknowledging it. And as valid, the self compassion alarm center comes down, then allowing my brain to be way better positioned to deal with the challenges. So it’s not just sounding good or soft, or all these things, it is research based and makes a difference, costs nothing and takes very little time.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  26:12

Why do you think that acknowledging actually makes you feel better, or it makes the alarm center a little less noisy?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  26:19

I know, we don’t have the exact answer to this from a research perspective or neuroscience perspective, we observe it. So we know it’s there, in terms of ways in which we could understand it from a psychological perspective, is that we’re making sense of an experience. So as opposed to it being there, as a noise almost missing, no clarity, no understanding, once we’ve understood it, and made sense of it, it’s almost like now it has a place in some ways, and allows me to then move on to the next thing that maybe a way to explain it going from nebulous SNESs, to clarity.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  26:57

Another topic that I know that you spend a lot of time on is, you obviously think a lot about workplace mental health, this has been an area of focus for you. One of the things that I know you’ve also thought a lot about is just how to decrease stress at work. And so I’m curious, I mean, it feels like the last few years is just one calamity after another. There’s all sorts of you know, changing ties, whether it’s your political, it’s pandemics, it’s your changes in the economy, changes in teams, it feels like there’s just a lot more things going on. And you know, people probably have a higher level of base level of stress. And so I’m curious, how are you coaching your executive, the executives that you coach on this topic? And what are you recommending for teams?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  27:44

So number one, you’re right, there are more demands, the demands come from all kinds of places, you said, our personal lives, our work life, but yes, they come from outside as well, what’s going on in the world. And yes, we’ve had the pandemic and of course, all the other things that continues to touch us, some of them very closely. So the acknowledgment of this amount of demands is very important. And we cannot, what got us here won’t get us there. Bottom line is, this cannot just keep going. And then we keep the same amount of resources, like I tried to sleep five hours, and I eat when I can, and it’s gonna go fine, because we’re going to run a deficit, basically, the demands are increasing, and we keep the resources the same. So we’re going down, basically. So something needs to change, what needs to change varies in different contexts. For example, as we’re learning about things happening in the world, okay, then we want to use similar approaches to what we’ve used early in the pandemic, we want to often the recommendation is to, yes, we want to be informed. But we do not need all day everyday exposure to the news here, because it almost like maintains a state of constant emergency. And we do need to at times gives ourselves some pauses so we can continue to recover. That may be an example on that front. Sometimes it’s related more to work demands, for example, if that’s the case, then we want to even though it doesn’t feel like we have any minute to step back, because we just need to do it is one of those situations where we need to step back, this investment of time will pay forward after so that we’re looking at the list of all the things I say that are on our all the demands at work in either on our own figure out, Okay, wait a second. No, it’s not going to be possible to do 100% of 100% of what’s on this list. So are there things that I know I can shift to next week or the week after? Are there things I can do 20% of for right now the rest later? Sometimes we can start seeing some of this because something needs to change bottom line Is there there’s no other answer to this. Sometimes it is a situation where we cannot see it. Everything truly looks like it all needs to happen at the 100%. If that’s the case, that’s when you connect with your leader, because your own leader will have visibility that we don’t have. That’s how a structure works. And they can then help us do that work that we can’t do on our own deprioritizing. Yes, sometimes that’s that. Sometimes though, people will say my leader is unhelpful, none of this is going to happen there, then you want external resources that may be when you’re working, say, with a coach or other persons externally, some people will have a mentor that they can connect with. Because then it can mean Otherwise, they’ll be stuck. And when we’re feeling stuck, you don’t want to just stay there stuck and say, too bad, I’m stuck. No, we’re searching for other ways to create air and research until you find it.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  30:56

What are some other ways so prioritizing makes sense to me, just making sure that you can focus on the things that are the most important? Are there other things, so if you as a leader are approached and you’re asked to help, I feel like some of these situations are very workload related and prioritization related, and you can do that. But in other cases, if people have, say, personal stressors, and other circumstances that are really outside the control of, you know, you, maybe you can make some time, you can be accommodating, but what are your thoughts around the responsibility of a leader in those situations, because sometimes, like, they’re really not even qualified to help in certain situations,

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  31:37

I know, right? Then even say, me when I was in the leadership role, okay, I’m a work psychologist in a leadership role. Even then, I’m not in the world of a psychologist here, I’m in the role of a leader of this team. So even if I have maybe some competencies, it was still not the place for me to enter in that kind of role. So bottom line is what we want, mostly as a leader is in comes back to some of what we talked about earlier, is communication. We want to ask people how they’re doing, listen and provide resources. So you want as a leader to be clear on which resources do we have access to in this organization, because sometimes you’ve heard them once before, but you vaguely know what the phone number is, or how it works, or how much support per year we have access to any of these things. So you really want to know what these resources are? Because in the leadership role, no, we’re not going to enter a therapist role here. And it’s not the situation. So what’s needed. What is needed is being someone that people can talk to, you’re listening, and you’re reminding them of the resources we have access to. That’s mostly that URL.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  32:47

Yeah. And like you said, also, sometimes listening is half the battle. And sometimes people just need someone to be able to talk to and they can more readily resolve things, or maybe sometimes asking the right question can really give them access to a new line of thinking that maybe they haven’t seen before?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  33:05

Yes. And sometimes as leader here. Okay, so you agree with all this, but you’re like, I don’t know what to say, I don’t even know how I’m going to handle this conversation. Well, as leaders, you can use your employee and Family Assistance Program to prepare for this conversation. So some of them will be touchier than others, right? There is the usual Oh, how are you doing, and I’m listening. But there are some that somehow, for whatever reason, feel a bit more challenging. So you can actually prepare for this and get resources yourself as a leader to develop a bit your comfort, so that when you approach this conversation with your employee, you’ll have a few more ways to do that.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:46

Yeah. So this is all an important part. And this is all the things that are part of the management role, that continue to make it a hard to master thing that you only you’re gonna see different, different shapes of it over the course of time. So in terms of other ways, like some of the personal ways, like I’m curious if you know, what are some things that you do on a personal level to make sure that you’re more resilient, and you’re more avoiding stressful situations that you don’t need to expose yourself to? I mean, you mentioned some of the examples, but on a day to day basis, what do you do?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  34:20

Yes, well, now that I have my own business, and it is a small business, I also own I decided that I am also the Chief Human Resources Officer of me, the main talent in this organization. And so therefore, but it’s true, right? In some ways, I’m managing the entire thing and the team. And I’m also very often the person doing the keynote, speaking, their coaching and all these things. So I very much need to make sure I protect that resilience. And so I’ve created a number of strategies. So for example, yes, in moments where there is exercise, fitting in the meditation, protective time with people I enjoy spending time with and protecting them in a fairly rigid way not impossible to move if needed, but fairly rigid. I would the example I sometimes give is you protected the same way you would protect an appointment with a specialist physician that you’ve been waiting for for six months, would you cancel? Because you’re busy at work? No, you wouldn’t, you’d make it happen. Okay, keep that lunch, right. So I’m trying to implement this, but just like I recommend to others, I do that for myself, too. I’ve got general guidelines of what, ideally I would do, and I do most of the time. And then versions of it. So if I cannot do my ideal amount of say, exercise, because there Yeah, I just feels good for me and that kind of thing. There are a very small version, right down to the one minute version. So we’re not going to zero, the smallest amount will be at one minute, which who doesn’t have one minute. And that allows us to maintain at least a bit of the habit which I want to return to as quickly as I can. I also use things that are in the book where I talk about using priming. Nonconscious processes, like exposing yourself to images that represent your goal to increase the chances of reaching that goal. I use that too, I use everything that’s in there, I use it. So that number one I like to experiment and use what research says works.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  36:22

So the primary one is interesting, maybe let’s talk about that. So what kind of images do you have and where do you put these images? And how does that work is just like a vision board where you create some things, some destination, some things that you want in your life, and you just have them at your desk? Or how do you approach it?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  36:40

I know, it’s the research on priming is very specific on priming itself. So does not necessarily connect it to things that sometimes we’d be people are familiar with, like vision boards, and that kind of thing. And mostly the definition here is exposing our brain to an image that represents your goal. Just that and so you do not actually need to like think about it meditate on it visualize it literally is just your eyes have seen it in the process is implemented. So for example, let’s say, you know, the research on meditation, you’d love to bring it in your life, but you just have not figured out how to do it. What you can do. And you always want to pair conscious processes with non conscious ones. It’s not a situation where you don’t have to do anything consciously. And then just non consciously, it will appear. It’s a combination. But let’s say you want to bring more meditation. So you may need consciously to do all the things you usually would do for any goal, like SMART goals, right? Measurable. Okay, I’ll do two minutes before lunch once a week. Here, you know, you’re specific. But you can also in addition, go online, find a picture of someone who meditates print, put it on the wall, it just needs to be somewhere Your eyes will see it. That’s all. And that’s it, priming operates. It just is wind in your sails in some ways. And so which ones have I used? I have used this exact example when I wanted to really bring meditation on a more regular basis in my life. And then once it’s become it is part of it, then I got other ones.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:13

Yeah, that’s awesome. So yeah, I mean, this is also another important, I wouldn’t say hack, because it’s something that works. But these are the little tactics that I think do actually go a long way. And it is important that we pay attention to these things, priming does work. There’s so much research on priming, so very excellent to be able to mention that. And like is there a way that have you ever used priming in terms of how to prime a team does this apply to the team context too?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  38:40

Well, actually, one of the most famous studies was done in a team context. Two of the key researchers in this area are Locke and Latham, one American and one Canadian, and they’ve done 30 years of research just on goal setting and goal attainment. And all of their research was unconscious processes. But at some point, recently, past few years, they’ve added priming. And in one of their studies, they went to a call center. So team context. And what they did there is that a call the agents in the call center were calling people to obtain donations for charity. And they split the groups in three, one group had a priming image of powerful high performance, it was a woman winning a race, the second group, no image and the third group, unrelated image. And in this particular study, they did not even tell people, they were being primed or for what. And the group that was primed for much higher performance got 60% more donations. And of course, when they saw this, the researchers almost did not want to publish this because they were like, Oh, this is too much. They did because they’re good researchers. But then the replicated and others replicated the studies in different contexts, different groups, and there’s really fascinating research, but yeah, it’s been done in teams as well.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:57

Yeah. Wow. 60% That’s a Great overachievement, so priming works. It’s definitely worth trying in different aspects of your life and your teamwork.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  40:07

And actually, here’s another, we like going to concrete practical suggestions for us, as managers and leaders. Look at how you’re ending your emails. Do you end with, let me know if you have any problems, versus, looking forward to hearing your creative solutions. You’ve primed with words differently. Super easy, right? This is just like a habit to take.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  40:31

Yeah, and I love the word creative in there, because it just makes me think that this is going to be challenging, and the solution isn’t going to be obvious. And I’m going to need to be creative. So automatically makes me think that way.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  40:44

See, priming you Aydin priming, priming works, priming works. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  40:49

Marie-Helene, this has been awesome. So we’ve talked about so many different things, obviously talking about resilience at the individual level. at the team level, we’ve talked about workplace mental health, we talked about a lot of tactics on how to increase trust between members of the team. And, of course, we also chatted about priming. So the question that we always like to end on is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips, tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  41:19

I would say stay curious. If you start each day, each meeting potentially, but even once a day, to be curious for an opportunity to bring even more resilience to yourself or your team, you will see them but that just means resilience becomes at the top of the list, which actually more and more we’re seeing surveys say that the next skill that we will all need and in the next 100 years will be resilience, as we continue to go through all the evolutions which many of whom have which you know about, and if they stay curious for a portunities to implement.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  41:57

That’s great advice and a great place to end it. Marie-Helene, thanks so much for doing this.

Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier  42:01

Thank you, Aydin. It’s been a pleasure.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  42:04

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at WWW.Fellow.app/Supermanagers. If you liked the content, be sure to rate review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and Fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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