Technology has been democratizing for years, and that means that in the next decade, technology will not be a competitive advantage for organizations. If you do not have the right technology for your business / sector, you will not survive, and if you have it, it will be a pillar of your business, but it will not give you a differential value.
And what will give us a differential value? Surely if you have read the previous articles you already know the answer … Simple, The People. Motivated people, aligned with the purpose and values of the organization, commited, creative, efficient, honest… Marta García Aller anticipated this a long time ago in her book “The end of the world as we know it”. The fourth industrial revolution is full of technology, so people are reserved for tasks that a machine or algorithm cannot do, such as ideation, designing, creating, inspiring, intuiting, inventing, visualizing, leading, caring, etc.
There is no successful and sustainable future for organizations without putting people first; employees, customers, partners, etc. Make people reach their maximum potential in the organization, make teams work with purpose, with focus, cohesion, reducing silos, friction, conflicts … it is the key to success, in having Mindfulness Teams.
There are already organizations that have realized, but most are still asleep thinking that the numerical objectives, the procedures, the governance, the efficiency KPIs and the Performance Management of two meetings a year is what will allow us to be successful …
Let’s remember again the 5 pillars of Mindfulness Organizations to have the complete picture, although in this article we will focus on Mindfulness Teams.
What are Mindfulness Teams?
Mindfulness Teams are teams that work to achieve a purpose, with shared values and with clear and prioritized objectives. They are focused, cohesive and carry out their activity in a safe environment that allows them to reach their fullness and maximum efficiency.
In a research conducted by Professor Michael West, he states the 3 fundamental differences between real teams and pseudo teams:
1.- Have clear and shared objectives.
2.- Work together and effectively.
3.- Meet regularly to measure performance and to identify how they can continue to improve.
This research showed that the teams that met the three previous points were more efficient, innovative, had greater well-being, lower levels of stress, absenteeism and turnover.
Unfortunately, nowadays, I think that in most cases we find ourselves within pseudo-teams, that is, people who work together, but don´t achieve fullness or maximum efficiency.
Let’s see now what things are essential to create real teams, that is, Mindfulness Teams.
Purpose, Values and Objectives
As I already told you in the Mindfulness Culture article, it is essential that every person in our organization understand and share its purpose and values. It is the way to achieve a real alignment of all the people in all the teams.
From purpose we move to vision, mission, strategy and objectives. Each team must understand how, by achieving their team objectives, they will contribute to the objectives and purpose of the organization.
You can use models like OKRs that will help to land this in a little more orderly way, but the key to everything is that people stop feeling like they are doing tasks, to understand how they contribute to the objectives of the organization.
No one is going to feel full or develop their maximum capacity if they do not feel safe, think about Maslow’s pyramid. Being listened to, respected, valued, rewarded and recognized for our work is essential to create that safe environment.
Mindfulness Leaders are responsible for creating that safe space where each person on the team feels that they can give their opinion without being judged or criticized. Where all feedback is constructive, and goals are achieved together.
Also a safe space means that if a person on the team is not contributing or behaving as expected, It can be showed and find a solution.
Mindfulness Teams grow together, they always find the most efficient way and have the best quality, they have regular meetings where they analyze their performance and what they could do differently to continue improving. Those who apply agile frameworks will surely come to mind Retrospective meetings, which should just be used for this.
A very useful tool is to sign a contract for all team members, as suggested in the Mindfulness Way of Working article.
Roles and responsibilities
There is nothing that creates more conflict than diffuse lines of responsibility. For a team to be efficient and not conflict, it must have perfectly defined who is responsible for what, and that does not mean that there is no flexibility or help between colleagues, but only if everything that has to be done, has always a responsible (and a shadow).
Different models can be applied here, from the self-management that seems to be the most ideal one, but requires a lot of team maturity (I have not yet seen any team that has it actually implemented), to more hybrid models, but whatever model you use, must be defined, written and communicated / validated by each team member.
Focus and prioritization
Multi-tasking is a big lie, our brain is much more efficient if we focus on a single thing, which is just what we get with Mindfulness.
If we want to have Mindfulness Teams, we need to make sure that they are clear about their objectives, are focused on what they have to do at all times and their work is prioritized according to the strategic objectives.
Avoiding distractions, work that does not add value and change of priorities continuously, will make the team, not only more efficient, but also reduce their stress level, since they can focus all their energy on what they are doing and feel that they are being able to contribute to the team’s objectives. You have to avoid that a day ends and people have the feeling that they have not done anything because they have gone from meeting to meeting all day.
Regular Meetings and Communication
Communication, communication and communication! We cannot avoid being in a VUCA world, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, but it is in our hands that the teams communicate a lot and we can adapt together to the changes that are taking place.
Many times, things happen that we do not like, but if the teams understand that they have occurred, the impact that this has and how to find the best solution together, will help reduce the impact.
In that space of trust that identifies Mindfulness Teams, we have to ensure that diversity of opinions is a strength (not to be confused with conflicts), that empathy and diversity is a value, promote a beginner’s mind and make an honest analysis of the team effectiveness and how to keep improving.
Something very frustrating for a team is not being able to achieve their goals because they depend on other teams, which generally do not have the same goals. This endemic problem, especially in large organizations, generates many conflicts and reduces efficiency.
Whenever possible, it is highly recommended to build what is known as full stack or end2end teams, that is, teams fully autonomous to achieve their goals without depending on anyone. This is not feasible in most of the organizations that I know and that are divided into many silos, but if we think about the efficiency of the organization, these silos only make it difficult to work in a complex and changing environment.
I give you an example, if you manage teams of digital products, someone may think that this only implies adding functionalities in a web / mobile, but it is not like that, the products are paid and interact with the financial systems of the organization, they have claims that are managed in the CRM, they depend on Legacy systems, or Data systems that feed them, or there are customer interactions through other channels, eg Call Center…. However, each thing that I have mentioned is usually managed by different teams, with different budgets, in different business units, with different objectives… so the dependencies to manage are great, as well as the priorities and the conflicts.
If instead of having silos, we get teams with all the capabilities to build end2end solutions, we will improve a lot, and if you can’t, at least simplify everything you can and identify and manage the dependencies that remain before they become a source of frustration.
Conflicts must be dealt when they appear, if we hide them under the rug, they will only worsen and turn into personal conflicts, which is a real catastrophe that will no longer have a solution, I tell you from experience.
There are many scenarios in which conflicts can appear, but if I analyze the ones that I have found most frequently, they have been:
1.- Lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities. If there are grey areas, sooner or later there will be conflicts, as I said before, we must define perfectly who is responsible for what and make sure that everything that needs to be done is identified.
2.- Dependencies. Things that are not under our control generate not only stress, but often frustrations and conflicts if that dependency means that a team cannot achieve its results even though it has done an excellent job.
3.- Impositions. When someone force us to do things that we do not want or do not understand, they will be a sure source of conflict.
4.- Situations of high pressure or overwork. Under situations of high stress or fatigue, it is much more common for conflicts to arise.
5.- Egos: Tremendously common in leadership positions.
In fact, if we look even more inside, with Mindfulness curiosity, what we see is something deeper and more complicated to manage such as Values, Beliefs, Habits … the same situation experienced by 2 people will have a totally different interpretation and that is that each of us see and feel life through our filters, which are our values, beliefs and habitsas we have seen in other articles.
If one of our highest priority values, for example, is justice, and we perceive that this value is not being respected in a situation we are experiencing, this will have a high impact on us, automatically making us feel in danger, with which we will attack or flee (basic behaviour of our reptilian brain), will never leave us indifferent. And if this happens repeatedly, it will end up generating great discomfort and conflict.
The higher the level of mindfulness, the less conflicts there will be, but it would seem a chimera to think that they will disappear, so you must always be prepared to manage them.
If conflicts are managed in time, making both parties apply their Mindfulness learnings, where each person understands the impact on the other from a conscious way, this greatly changes the perspective.
One of the important skills of Mindfulness Leaders is precisely that of being a coach and mentor of their teams, and they should be able to quickly identify and manage conflicts from that perspective, being able to facilitate understanding and resolution.
Above all, we are unique, complete, creative and resourceful people, but equally imperfect and vulnerable.
In the previous Mindfulness Ways of working article we saw this point in more detail, but I couldn’t avoid refer to it here as well. It is important to understand that each person will have different needs at each moment of their life, and that we must find not only a balance between work and personal life but that as individuals we need physical, mental, emotional and social well-being.
Let’s not stop giving value to all aspects of well-being within teams, looking for social moments, emotional balance, etc.
My dear Mindfulners, so far today’s article :-)!