In times where new information and technologies are constantly being created, it’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed in both the workplace and on a personal level. Policies, procedures and routines can quickly become out-dated and inefficient.
In order to keep pace with an ever-changing environment, researchers like Ellen Langer have helped to develop the simple technique of mindfulness in order to reduce these stressors and even improve memory, creativity, charisma and overall work-performance. Accomplishing all of these feats may sound like a complicated procedure, but at its core, mindfulness is simply the process of actively noticing new things. It’s the essence of engagement and simply requires you to pay attention and react to your environment, instead of mindlessly following stagnant procedures.
Reacting to these changes leads to the inception of innovative ideas and in the workplace creates an environment where performance and productivity are constantly poised to improve. As a manager, it’s possible to create a mindful work environment using a few simple techniques:
1) Make not knowing okay: if there are certain tasks that no one knows how to perform efficiently, get rid of the fear of doing them “wrong”. Instead, allow employees to experiment with their own procedures and share the results.
2) Make routines adaptive to each moment: If there is a set of tasks that must be accomplished, give the procedure for completing them room to adapt to different situations that may arise.
3) Strive to create work / life integration: work life and personal life should function together to create a full person, instead of existing on opposite spheres and needing to balance each other out. You should be open to adaptation in all aspects of your life and able to transfer your strengths and skills.
4) Embrace mindfulness yourself: it’s important to practice what you preach in every aspect of your life, and as a manager, you can help embrace mindfulness by imagining your thoughts are transparent to your employees. This will keep you from passing unsolicited judgement. Instead, when dealing with difficult employees, look at the situation from their perspective; try to figure out why they are acting the way they are and how you can help.
No matter which industry you work in, mindfulness can be a key tool to improving workplace morale and productivity. To learn more about this technique, check out Ellen Langer’s interview with Harvard Business Review.