Ask any leader in a growth company about their biggest business challenges and you're likely to hear there simply is not enough time in the day. Of course, that problem is not limited to the business world --it's one of the most pervasive of the century.
While there are countless apps, devices, productivity systems, and services designed around gaining just a few more minutes back in the day, technology hasn't exactly helped the situation. Now, we have to manage the flood of information, real-time requests, and notifications coming in from all directions, making it easy to get caught up in the rush to check tasks off the list.
When this becomes the office mentality, it can produce a culture devoid of mindfulness, true connection to the work will be lacking, and the overall quality of work and life can begin to slip. The thing is, this is exactly what today's employees are looking for and what every business leader wants out of their teams-- quality, connection and mindfulness.
How do you begin to create a culture of mindfulness at the office?
Start with the leadership
Creating mindfulness in the workplace starts at the top. Leaders within the organization have to create space for themselves to be able to bring innovative, strategic thinking to their role.
In a fast-growth company, however, it can be easy for leaders to slip into the role of the technician or the "doer" simply to keep pace with the ever-increase workload. Thus, it's important to institute a practice of instilling the organization's vision and asking your leaders to define how they see themselves showing up as a manager and how they want to show up one year from now. In other words, do they see themselves as a technician or as a true manager, coach, leader?
Do they want to have more time to innovate, and coach, train and lead their teams? If so, what do they need to change in the next 30, 60 or 90 days? Assign specific, actionable goals for the next 90 days to develop those core leadership skills --listening, being present, removing roadblocks for the team, and being a champion of mindfulness.
When the team has a model to follow, you'll begin to see them adopt similar practices, bringing more mindfulness and connection to their work. But it starts with the company leadership strengthening their emotional intelligence.
Build time to refresh into the culture
Organizations can instill mindfulness practices in a variety of ways. For instance, Google implemented a formal learning process called "Search Inside Yourself," a two-day leadership program that provides mindfulness tools and ways to boost emotional IQ.
In our company, we implemented something we call "Refresh. Renew. Unite." Each quarter we come together as a team to reflect upon the goals we were striving for and milestones we hit, what worked and what didn't, and how we can improve.
We then take a half day on a Friday to go off solo to rejuvenate our minds and reflect. This is not a time for catching up on Netflix or hanging out with friends. It's a time to think about personal, professional and organizational goals.
Finally, the team reunites to share their reflections and goals for the next quarter. This process has brought our team closer together, instilled mindfulness in our culture, and makes us more effective in our day to day.
Champion a work-life continuum
Creating spaces within the office for mindfulness and practicing presence can be useful as well -- some of today's most successful companies have done it. From rooms dedicated specifically to yoga and meditation to bringing in instructors for private lessons to using apps such as Levelhead, companies like Medium, Starbucks and Asana, have all put a focus on bringing mindfulness into the workplace.
But it's more than just offering wellness perks. It's about preparing your people to mindfully problem solve, anticipate the need, and navigate challenges and complex situations.
It's about developing the skills that enable your team to get out of subconscious routines into a more conscious and strategic state. Through mindfulness, leaders and employees are better equipped to manage the complexities of the day, be more aware of their emotions, and bring a deeper level of intention and purpose to their work.
This doesn't happen by accident, though. Leaders have to purposefully structure their days, weeks and months to allow for mindfulness and creativity to develop.
One way to do this is to block out specific times of day for tackling the tactical items that tend to consume the day, time for working on high-level priority items, and time for strategic work. This is particularly important for leaders to do for themselves, but also to teach to their teams.
Now more than ever, we all need space and time to recharge and oxygenate --inside and outside of the office. Instill the practices within your culture that encourage your team to find harmony within work, life and family --mindfulness and connection to the work they do will be a natural byproduct.