Mindfulness is no longer a buzzword that you can ignore. In fact, companies like Google and Nike are treating it as their secret recipe for a successful workforce. If you’re a struggling entrepreneur with a discontented team, or newly promoted human resource manager with the task of boosting team motivation then, mindfulness is the way to go. And no, it’s not just meditation.
Is mindfulness for my team?
Whether mindfulness is for you or not, it can be determined by understanding what it is and how it will benefit your organization, and more importantly your team. According to The Foundation for Mindful Society’s definition: “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
So, being aware of the situation, understanding our purpose and knowing what to do next are aspects that mindfulness helps you with. For a team and its leader, that sort of works like a mind map.
In an organizational setting, the first thing that you need to understand is the goal, then you work your way around it through broken down tasks and smaller goals to support the bigger goals. Often, employees feel lost when they are not given clear directions; or they are too down the line of workers that they do not feel involved in the company’s mission. That’s where mindfulness comes in to help align them with the company’s vision and motivate them to achieve such goals.
Mindfulness has a way to positively influence team motivation in a meaningful way at the corporate or small business level. That’s why it has been a success with several large corporations where work processes and large team dynamics tend to pull morale down. Even if you have a small team, you can supercharge team motivation with mindfulness for the long haul. Below, are five ways to do it
1. Bust stress
One of the most corrupting elements at the workplace is stress. Stress if not tackled, can lead to mental and physical health problems such as anxiety attacks, obesity, and poor self-image. Integrating mindfulness programs like meditation and yoga at the workplace not only bust stress but also increase the stress tolerance level.
When stress is reduced, the mind is better focused on productive activities such as creative problem solving and coming up with better ideas, the dwelling in resentment, disappointment or worries.
2. Boost self-confidence
There is nothing more harmful to a workplace environment than employees cowering at the mention of their bosses. Mindfulness exercises usually involve both team leaders (and bosses) and employees to engage in team building activities that help break the ice. You can further boost your team confidence by encouraging them to interact and engage with you outside the mindfulness program.
In fact, a study by Academy of Management Proceedings, indicates that mindfulness not only boosts the confidence of employees but also of leaders because they get inspired and motivated to share their vision with team members.
3. Improve well-being
When employers encourage team members to take care of their health, whether through exercise breaks or getting a standing desk, they are motivated to do more for the organization. Mindfulness programs help transition the mindset from careless to caring among HR executives, managers and leaders.
Mindfulness exercises enhance employee health by outlining activities and lifestyles that will alleviate stress, anxiety, and frustration. When mindfulness is at work, employees feel vigorous and energetic because all of their energies are focused on having a healthy lifestyle and balance work with it.
4. Raise morale
One of the reasons that team motivation deteriorates over time is because there is a lack of team bonding and poor emotional health. While HR managers consider their jobs done with a couple of team building sessions, the reality is, energetic and spirited teams need more than just that. They need consistent boosts; they need affirmations; and they need to build themselves before they can support others.
Research by a professor of psychology at Harvard University indicates that mindfulness is co-related with emotional well-being. When teams are in a constant state of worry and stress, they develop mental illness which, if not intervened, can affect their morale and motivation, apart from their physical health. Mindfulness can be the catalyst to help the organization to engage with employees to develop emotional intelligence and positive attitude.
When employees have something to look up to, and are emotionally intelligent to take care of their problems and work challenges, they develop mechanisms to tackle hard situations like deadlines, hard decisions and competition.
5. Develop empathy
Last, but not least, mindfulness helps develop empathy in individuals which are often lacking in a competitive corporate world. Managers are not inclined to give lee-ways to employees when tasked with high targets, while team members compete against each other for the “bonus” to the extent of exclusion of co-workers. What’s more damaging in this rat race is that teams nowadays no longer act like people with feelings and emotions; they’re unaware of what goes on in others’ lives except what matters to them.
How to suppress this cold attitude, and develop an interest in empathy among team members? Mindfulness of course. From the above discussion we’ve come to know that mindfulness teaches one to be aware and mindful of others around us. What’s more important is the fact that mindfulness also nurture empathy among individuals and among team members.
So what can you do to encourage empathy at your workplace?
As a boss or team leader, you need to set expectations but at the same time offer room for divergence so that team members can find a better way to achieve your goals. And more importantly, encourage them to work in groups, interact more frequently to achieve the same goals. When people work in proximity, they tend to develop an empathetic attitude towards their partners.
Don’t consider mindfulness as an easy way out of saving money, or a temporary fix for your team. When mindfulness is applied with the focus to build team motivation and overall well-being of the organization, it would benefit the company in the long run. Think of it as an investment in your organization that have outreaching impact on the overall performance and productivity level.