How to Instill Mindfulness in Your Company
You need to customize your mindfulness programs. Many organizations have achieved good results by starting with a small pilot program, such as providing a mindfulness course to senior leadership.
For some mindfulness will become a paradigm for organization design and employee well-being. Organizations can start by experimenting with four types of interventions: leadership training, meditation training, mindfulness ‘micropractices’, and mindfulness coaching.
As management guru Peter F. Drucker observed, leaders need trained perception as much as analysis. Well-designed leadership courses address this need.
Leaders should learn how to integrate formal and informal mindfulness practices into everyday life. Formal practices are guided meditations, while informal practices include mindful listening exercises and paying attention to the task at hand.
By improving self-awareness, self-regulation, and compassion, mindfulness courses address the psychological root causes of multiple leadership challenges. Because these courses encourage skills for managing time, change, and conflict, training programs dedicated to establishing these skills might become obsolete.
At Bosch, a one-year agile leadership-training program involves three modules: leading oneself, leading teams, and leading the organization. The self-leadership training focuses on mindfulness and regular guided meditations, conscious-communication exercises, and courses to avoid the pitfalls of multitasking.
In addition to training executives, companies should consider offering training to all employees. Companies are willing to try out meditation but struggle to know where to start. A half-day or full-day course can introduce basic practices, such as breathing or body scan meditations, so that employees can then continue on their own.
To reinforce their training courses, organizations like – Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter—offer guided meditations during work days. Google established silent lunches and silent rooms, where employees can go to readjust in the midst of an intense working day.
Repetitive practice of basic skills is essential to promote mastery: think of pianists playing scales or baseball players taking batting practice. Similarly, employees who complete a meditation program need to continue practicing, through ‘micropractices’, to master mindfulness. Seasoned meditators report transformative mindfulness benefits once they have integrated mindfulness into everyday life.
Organizations should invest in creating a culture in which meditation ‘micropractices’ are actively disseminated by mindfulness change agents. Small workshops can also help to integrate mindfulness in a nonintrusive way. These workshops can teach approaches such as the STOP practice, ( stop, take a breath, observe (thoughts, feelings, and emotions), and proceed).
‘Micropractices’ can serve as an easy starting point for skeptics, who often experience surprising benefits after a few sessions.
Mindfulness principles can help teams collaborate more effectively. If team members master listening to one another with undivided attention without interruption, they promote freer and more creative thinking. A team culture that values appreciation over criticism builds transparency and openness. Nancy Kline in her book, More Time to Think: The Power of Independent Thinking, proposes that people offer appreciative comments five times as often as they do critical remarks.
Facilitation by a coach is essential to capture the benefits of mindfulness in teamwork. Executive teams could benefit from mindfulness coaches to enable authentic communication and effective teamwork.
Source: adapted from an article by C.Greiser & J. Martini, for Boston Consulting Group, 26 April 2018 (1400 words)