The importance of mastering mindfulness

Written by
Dale Smith

27 Nov 2015

27 Nov 2015 • by Dale Smith

As more organisations join the quest to develop employee engagement programmes, focusing on empowerment through happiness and wellbeing, the demands on leaders to maintain this environment has been on the increase.

The role of a true leader is one that not only lives up to the brand promise on a daily basis but one who can demonstrate through actions that they have a belief in building a better place for employees to exist in. Hence, the practice of mindfulness is being utilised by great leaders individually and as a tool to infuse wellbeing considerations into busy teams that represent brands on the front line. The process of turning ‘inwards’ engages staff in your brand values, and ensures you allow ideas to be shared.

A landscape of continuous change

The recent Bridge and Changeboard culture survey examined several key drivers influencing leaders in this area. It was no surprise that 81% of respondents said their culture had been influenced by either organisational or industry change in the past year. This is indicative of the dynamic and constantly changing environment in which leaders are experiencing higher stressors and demands on performance.

There is a need to use the power of mindfulness to stay focused and balanced in a culture – yet respondents were divided in allocating responsibility between management, HR and in 47% of responses, all employees. With so many influences on culture, it is imperative that those who sit at the table are totally in tune with the desires and feelings of the larger employee population.

Developing an engaged staff culture

We discovered 36% of respondents allocate less than 5% of their yearly HR and training budget to developing an engaged employee culture, with an additional 25% allocating only between 5%-10% for its future development. However, 77% of those surveyed said their organisation uses its culture as part of its value proposition and sales process, and 85% said this was key in creating a great customer experience. There is an urgent need to use mindfulness in your culture-building strategy, to improve wellbeing.

Mindfulness what can you do?

TASK: Spend time appreciating the small stuff
This can be as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning or stopping to appreciate the flavour as you slowly chew your food. Too often, we are rushing through one task while our mind has moved ten paces ahead to the next ones. As a leader who is responsible for building the culture of your organisation, this translates to focusing on the moments of success in the day as they happen in real time. Take the time to engage with the team and celebrate these moments, as they are stored as benchmarks for future engagement. Be mindful of what is important to team members and what they see as success in their daily routine.

ENVIRONMENT: We live in the world that we create
It is very important that we learn to look at the busy environment that we exist in through a more positive lens. Many people often tell me how much they dislike the London Underground and how it is filled with unhappy and unhelpful people. If this is what you believe you will find there, then I am not surprised that this is what is received. I personally like the Underground and find it somewhat of a sanctuary for anyone that likes to people watch; I often find myself talking to random people or simply using the time to not talk at all. Hence, as a leader it is key for you to be both mindful of how you are feeling in particular work situations and also how you present it outwardly to others. Bring good energy into the work environment and allow happiness and wellbeing to grow around you. Always be mindful of the stage that leaders perform on.

MEMORY: Build into your daily routine
As busy leaders I am sure most of you can relate to the statement that ‘the day is filled with the demands of others before it even begins’. To do this effectively I had to go back to basics and set an alarm on my phone to ring at scheduled intervals throughout the day to remind me to stop for 30 seconds and ‘just be’. This did not always work and the alarm went off just at the wrong time. Over time, however, I realised that I tended to work much better when I took my mindful moments and how as a leader, part of my role is to act more as a reminder to others and introduce this time to ‘just be’. A culture of wellbeing needs to ensure that each of its members is looked after and this time has to be seen as an important investment in later productivity.

BALANCE: Create space to reflect
Ensure you are able to manage the rising demands of a leader in a changing world. Create a dedicated place within the work environment where you can find solitude and take time to recharge batteries. Practise some calm and light meditation that will allow you to focus on the energies needed to create the place that others wish to be part of. This also needs to be developed as part of the aesthetics in which your culture lives, as people have to be offered better break or down-time rest areas. They also need to be encouraged to consider their own wellbeing and must be given the opportunity and facilities that support this movement.