Are you one of those who think that change can be planned, and that uncertainty can be controlled? Do you think that procedures, governance and KPIs are what ensure the efficiency of the organization? Do you think remote work is just an exception for the pandemic? Are you still applying hierarchical decision-making models? Well then, I think I’m going to give you some bad news, so you will see if you want to continue reading…
No matter what organization or department you are in, public administration, private sector, Start-up, in an operational department, business, marketing, technology … we are all immersed in changes that are already changing our way of living, working and relate. To be successful in this new world that is already here and accelerated by the pandemic, we will need to discover new ways to organize and lead, while finding new approaches to recruit, develop, engage and retain talent. It is not only worth working on the Customer Experience, now it is critical to work on the Employee Experience and there is no better way to do it than through the Mindfulness Way of Working.
Added to the above, the complexity that we live in organizations increases day by day, the specialization of products, customer segments, local and global markets and competitors grows. Stakeholders, partners, knowledge areas, technologies, methodologies, etc. are growing.
The usual work model in most of the organizations that I know is the Hierarchical one based on “Command and Control” that in a VUCA environment (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) becomes a limitation. A way of working based on formal procedures ensuring that no one skips a single step, micro-management, strong governance, exaggerated reporting, performance KPIs, error control, employees stuck long hours in their chairs, etc. they just create a false illusion of having everything under control and being efficient.
You cannot have change and uncertainty under control, the sooner we understand and accept it, the happier we will live, and we will be more successful. We will see throughout this article how with a Mindfulness Way of working approach we can achieve it.Let’s remember again the 5 pillars of Mindfulness Organizations to have the complete picture because we will begin to relate concepts already explained in previous articles, although in this article we will focus on Mindfulness Way of Working.
What is Mindfulness Ways of working?
Mindfulness Way of Working is what makes it easier for us to work efficiently from a state of presence and awareness in what is happening. Focusing on people and their interactions, and changing the perspective of resource control by facilitating communities or ecosystems that are continuously evolving.
This is achieved by waking up from our lethargy, being present and aware, we are not robots that follow orders, nor numbers on a payroll. We are unique and creative beings that obviously have to generate value, but the question, as always, is not the outcome, but how that outcome is reached.
In 20 years, I have experienced good and less good things, but there is nothing worse than wanting to process human relationships, common sense, change and the unexpected. Or wanting to measure a person by KPIs disconnected from the broader and global environment, and above all, there is nothing worse than spending half the day reporting to different stakeholders and justifying that if something has happened, it is not your fault … and that If it is our fault, nothing happens, it is fixed, it is learned, and mechanisms are sought so that it does not happen again.
If we return to the essence of Mindfulness, we need to be present and aware, to understand that the world is changing, and that this necessarily implies a change in the traditional models of organization and leadership, breaking barriers, allowing each person to connect with their purpose, their values, live without stress, and develop all your qualities, creativity and efficiency. With a Mindfulness Way of Working approach, we will work on all the levers that allow people to be in balance, which is what will facilitate being able to give their best.
As I have already mentioned in previous articles, there are companies such as Google and Apple, which know a lot about this and have been offering Wellbeing programs to their employees since many years ago because they have verified that the happier, fuller and motivated people are, the more efficient and creative they are. My vision of Mindfulness way or working goes much further, it is not applying a concrete wellbeing program, it is thinking that everything we do is aligned with the Mindfulness philosophy.
Work with Purpose, values and objectives
We cannot expect people to be motivated by following orders and procedures in many cases frustrating and archaic. If we want to have motivated people in our teams, we must make sure that they feel that they are part of something bigger, understand and be part of the purpose and values of the organization and have clear, prioritized and achievable objectives.
We saw in a previous Mindfulness Culture article, how important it is to have a purpose and values in the organization with which we feel identified. The purpose is what moves people, it is the soul of an organization, it is not material, but it is the common thread of everything that is done, and the values will mark the roadmap to reach our purpose, because It is not worth doing it anyway, if we achieve our purpose but the members of the organization have high levels of stress, anxiety and frustration, it will be of little use.
The Mindfulness Way of Working will facilitate that the purpose becomes mission, vision, strategic initiatives and objectives, and each person can understand how their personal objectives contribute to the purpose of the organization. Here are models that can be used as OKRs, but beyond the models or tools, we must make sure that we can achieve this value chain.It is interesting to observe how more and more, the new generations are breaking patterns and not wanting to work in the typical large organizations, and they move more in the start-up worlds, where they feel closer to contributing to social projects , or be closer to the purpose and values of the organization, where more humane environments and ways of working with greater collaboration and cohesion are created.
Work models have changed, and not only because of the pandemic, which has certainly given a good push, but because it is already clear to many that fulfillment is not achieved without personal / professional balance.
A culture of balance and labor flexibility is imposed, without taking into consideration other elements that are already also a reality such as remote locations, diversity and inclusion.
You have to eliminate limiting patterns such as being in the office to be seen because otherwise they forget about you, or for your boss to see that you are on your site until very late to show how involved you are (even if you are playing solitaire).
Remote and flexible work opens up great possibilities, not only for flexible hours according to your personal needs, it impacts much more such as reducing pollution, eliminating stress due to traffic jams and long journeys, to be able to take your child to school without having to make a call at the same time putting your safety and that of your children at risk, etc. It also allows us to include people from remote sites in the team who can facilitate and enrich the teams or even move to crowdsourcing approaches or any other ways that dilutes the concept of having “employees” to work with people and results.
In this way, we go from paradigms from “command and control” to “smart working” or “agile working”, you have more details in a wide bibliography, for example Future Work.The Mindfulness Way of Working facilitates the conscious decision to focus on people, on their needs, allowing them to choose based on their current vital moment, and this does not mean that they do not make an effort, but that each person achieves their outcomes in the most balanced way.
From Managers to Facilitators / Coach / Mentors
As I have already indicated in all the previous articles, leadership is the key element of change, we must change the management model of «Command & Control» for a model of «Facilitation», and this is a challenge for traditional managers. They have to understand that it is no longer about giving orders that others execute, but that they must become a facilitator / coach / mentor of the team, making them grow, being a reference and source of inspiration, that is, moving to the Mindfulness Leader paradigm.
Clearly, we must go from a management model based on outputs to one based on outcomes, that is, from doing tasks to obtaining a result. We are no longer going to measure the hours that a person works but we measure the outcomes obtained, so this will make managers work more, because counting hours is easier…
Communities and Ecosystems vs Hierarchies
Very hierarchical organizations have the great problem that the members of the management committee are not able to know what is happening in the work teams. If you read Gustavo Razzeti’s article “Leaders don’t know their culture” you will be able to understand it better.
The hierarchical organizations are in which the «Command and control» is applied. Organizations that flatten hierarchies, reduce silos and focus their organization on communities or ecosystems will facilitate a Mindfulness Organization and Mindfulness Culture, as well as management models based on advice, delegation, etc. There will not be a boss, but a Mindfulness Leader that will facilitate acting in a more conscious, present way, understanding the needs of people, their purpose and values. Focusing the work on outcomes (not on tasks) and ensuring that communication and alignment with the purpose, values and objectives of the organization is possible.
Embracing change and uncertainty
Although we get tired of saying that we are resilient people, that we are comfortable with changes and that we have an organization that adapts to changes, it is often false.
On a personal level a change is a process that one has to decide to live, and it has its phases and its purpose, it is not, unfortunately, in our DNA yet.
And organizations (the leaders really) when faced with a change or uncertainty consider that they have to make quick decisions, without data and without consulting their teams. And those decisions may be good, but if we apply Mindfulness thinking we must act differently:
Action -> Mindfulness -> Reaction
That is, we do not go from the fact that it happens (action) to an immediate reaction (Decision-making), but we give ourselves a “mindfulness” space to be present, focused and from there we already make the decision. Is not the same.
And above all, we do not do it alone when it is something relevant, but with the people who are going to be affected by those decisions.
But how? Well, very easy «Slow down to speed up«:
• We accept that we have complex challenges. Let’s shape the challenge, with eyes, hands and feet. There are always several alternatives.
• Stop, breathe, come to the present moment and become aware.
• Put all your attention and energy on the challenge you have, just on that, for a period of time there is nothing else in your life.
• You can do it alone just to focus, I need it many times. But if it’s something relevant, always talk to your team or colleagues. Share, you are part of a community.
And with this I do not mean that all decisions have to be agreed upon or that we have to take an eternity to decide, it is only about giving ourselves a conscious space of time.
Using technology wisely
As a friend and colleague´s daughter says, I am a technologist, and a faithful defender that well-used technology is a great facilitator of change. Never forget about it, but well used for the purpose you pursue.
Use good collaboration tools is a must in any organization today if we want to facilitate everything we have discussed throughout the article.
This could be an endless topic to discuss. When we talk about Wellbeing on a personal level, there are many aspects that we need to take into account, such as physical, mental, emotional, social, economic, etc. Depending on where you look, you will find several classifications. If you want a little more information, you can take a look at the Chief Wellbeing Officer proposed by Steve MacGregor.
If we focus on organizations and the current moment that we are living at a global level, the emotional and social are two fundamental axes on which to work. As many of us were forced to telework without previous experience, and all that this has meant to change our lives, it seems interesting to dedicate a little time and reflection to it.
If you are not on Google or Apple, nothing happens. Generating wellbeing in teams not only implies spending money with fashion consultant’s companies and large strategic programs (which by the way are always welcome), small actions can begin to generate important, subtle but very powerful changes. I give you some examples of those that I have applied, but imagination to power!
• Sign an team “contract”. It is nothing about going to the legal department, but it is a strong team / community commitment, to create a space in which we all feel safe. It is about the people of a team «signing» how they want to work together as a team, including values, behaviors, red lines, in general everything that is important for that team.
• In your team meetings or with colleagues, introduce a simple practice that is check-in and check-out. Reserve 5 minutes at the beginning and end of the meeting to:
o Check-in. Let each person say in 30 sec. how you are and how you get to the meeting. No work, just personal, «I’m tired», «I’m very angry so today do not take what I say wrong», «I’m super happy because today I got up early to do exercise…». This not only creates team cohesion but also gives you a lot of information about people.
o Check-out: Another 30 sec. to say what you think of the meeting and if you would change something or if there is anything you want to say to your colleagues. Basically, it is very valuable feedback.
This is also very useful if people are late to meetings because you do not «waste time» waiting, but rather you invest it in knowing how your colleagues are today and generating team cohesion.
• The power to say thank you. There is nothing more powerful than saying thank you, if possible, public, to someone who has helped or supported you in something, or simply highlighting how handsome someone is coming today or how good is to see someone smiling. Totally transform energy.
• A virtual coffee / beer. It is not the same as face-to-face, but it can help you take a break and build cohesion.
• Work / Life balance. If your company allows it, talk to your boss and if you are a boss, talk to your teams and try to agree on basic actions that facilitate this balance, such as not having meetings before 9:30 if there are people who have to take their children to the school, or at 18:00 in the afternoon that people also have personal lives.
• 360º communication meetings. If your organization also allows it, try that the typical team meetings are not only of cascade communication (From the boss to the employee), but that they are 360 and you can discuss things that are also important for the teams. As people are often ashamed to participate, prepare it before, with a kanban-style panel or similar where people can anonymously ask for topics to be discussed at that meeting.
Dear Mindfulners, so far today’s article :-)!