Facing Adversity: A Guide for Workers and Managers
The average working person encounters 23 obstacles each day, ranging from minor traffic jams to major conflicts in their workplaces, writes organizational development expert Paul Stoltz in Adversity Quotient @ Work. But for frontline supervisors, the tally is usually 20 percent greater.
According to Stoltz, supervisors encounter adversity from all sides in their dealings with senior managers, subordinates, outside customers and third-party consultants. And more than ever, they are becoming increasingly engaged in issues pertaining to process improvement, restructuring, cost control and product innovation.
The Adversity Quotient
To measure and monitor how people automatically respond to these growing challenges, Stoltz developed a concept known as the "adversity quotient" (AQ). AQ is a tool for unraveling how people respond emotionally to adversity - and then helps them secure ways to strengthen their effectiveness amid challenging situations.
According to the model, people with higher AQs become less fazed over the mounting onslaught of daily demands. Those with lower AQs struggle harder to weather changes, or become easily overwhelmed to the point of quitting a task.
After interviewing more than 15,000 business leaders and frontline supervisors over the past 20 years, Stoltz found that 80 percent of workers fell into a mid-range score of 147.5. The AQ scale ranges from 40 to 200.
Campers, Climbers And Quitters
Stoltz applies the term "campers" to average scorers. These are workers who may get overwhelmed when adversity piles up, who allow adversity to bleed into other areas of the organization, and who resort to blame when tense or tired.
Respondents who fall on the high end of the bell curve are referred to as "climbers." These are workers who focus on solutions, maintain perspective and view adversity as fleeting occurrences.
At the opposite end of the scorecard are "quitters" - workers who allow adversity to endure longer than necessary while exhibiting no control over a situation.
Start With Your Core
Stoltz stresses that AQ testing is merely an assessment tool used for pinpointing areas in which supervisors and their workers can unleash greater capacity. A person's overall AQ, he argues, is actually comprised of four CORE factors that can help transform a "camper" into a "climber" once they are clearly identified:
C = Control. Are you able to control the situation and your reaction to it?
O = Ownership. Will you take the responsibility for the problem?
R = Reach. How far does adversity reach into other areas of your life?
E = Endurance. How long will the problems last?
Improvement training is also based on what Stoltz calls the LEAD sequence:
L = Listen to your CORE.
E = Establish accountability.
A = Analyze the evidence as to why a low AQ score has to be true.
D = Do something by mapping out specific ways that help you regain control.
FedEx, Marriott International, Cypress Semiconductor and dozens of other companies have used the LEAD sequence for building up workers' responses to adversity.
For Workers and Managers
Stoltz first introduced AQ in his 1997 bestseller Adversity Quotient. With Adversity Quotient @ Work, Stoltz offers a sequel that clearly demonstrates how workers and managers - and, thus, their organizations - can benefit from the AQ concept.