What is "Team Mindfulness" and How Can It Boost Workplace Performance?
A recently published study in the Academy of Management Journal suggests an innovative take on the well-established tradition of “mindfulness” – the practice of focusing awareness on your present state and being fully conscious of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to increase well-being – that could have a positive impact on workplace productivity and job satisfaction.
Researches found that when mindfulness is practiced and adapted to a group setting in the workplace, what they refer to as “team mindfulness,” conflicts dissipate, productivity and collaboration increases, stress levels go down, and employees are more satisfied overall with their work.
“We found that when teams are more mindful, this reduces interpersonal conflicts and helps teams better focus on the task at hand,” said lead author and assistant professor at UCB Sauder School of Business, Lingtao Yu.
But, what exactly is “team mindfulness?” Science Daily describes it as the “shared belief within a team of focusing on the present moment and ensuring team members interact with one another without judgment.”
Yu also added that this could even include things like group yoga or meditation practice, which may help team members to “detach” from individual tasks or conflicts and diffuse high-stress or tension-filled situations.
But mindfulness in the workplace should include more than a few meditation practices per year. It’s about creating an environment and office culture where team members consistently feel supported and have the resources and time they need to prioritize their tasks, build healthy collaborations, and have open and positive communications.
Here are a few more workplace exercises you can implement now to bring mindfulness to your team:
Start off with a mindfulness education session: Not everyone is familiar with the practice of mindfulness, and it may seem like an abstract concept to some. Before you start implementing this as a philosophy to your team, be sure offer a kind of training or informational session where you define what mindfulness means and the benefits it can bring to everyone.
Encourage healthy breaks: While this certainly can include mindful practices like group yoga or meditation, it can also mean offering unstructured breaks like walks outside or a quiet, comfortable room where employees can go to “unplug” for a few minutes.
Transform meetings into exercises in mindfulness: Explain to your team how to hold “mindful meetings.” By suspending judgment over other team members, practicing open and respectful communication, engaging in active listening where you’re fully present to the people and issue in front of you, and becoming more aware of your own responses, you can gradually reduce workplace conflicts and build stronger, more effective teams.
Model mindful behavior: If team members see mindful practices modeled in their leadership, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate and adopt a more mindful approach themselves. As with any leadership philosophy or company culture, if examples aren’t flowing from the top down, the rest of the organization will be less likely to model this behavior as well.
Make room for creativity: Allow for some creative brainstorming sessions on a regular basis where team members can contribute new ideas without fear of judgment or negativity. Mindfulness has been shown to increase creativity, so take advantage by creating a safe space for your team members to flex their creative muscles.