By the time we’re at our desks or dialing into a conference call, our minds are flooded with tasks we didn’t finish yesterday or what we have to do in the coming days or weeks. This often translates to never being full present or aware with the task in front of us or in conversations with our colleagues and employees.
How many times have you been on a conference call and have been checking your email at the same time or working on another task? For most of us, multitasking is the new norm, but neuroscience research shows that we’re the most productive when we are focused on one task. Multitasking is nothing more than our brains switching from one task to another.
The result – we’re showing up to the workplace more unfocused, less productive and more unaware of the cues of others than ever before.
Prepare yourself to show up, prepare your team
When you’re working virtually, you can’t see someone’s reaction to you unless you are using webcam or video conferencing technology. Without these tools, we have to listen for the tone of voice, the pauses and even the silence.
This means that the first step to let your team know they have your undivided attention is to listen. By listening – not checking your smartphone or looking at your computer – when you’re not face-to-face with your employees will not only allow you to read the subtle clues, but will also allow you to look at situations in a new way versus running on autopilot.
Before your next meeting or one-on-one conversation, think about how you can prepare yourself to show up:
- Take 30 seconds to one minute to sit quietly, take some deep breaths and be aware of the present moment before running to the next task.
- Put away your smartphone so you won’t be tempted to check or respond to messages as they arise.
- Ask yourself, are you focusing and listening to what your team needs or are you absorbed in the work you need to get done?
The power of awareness
Subconsciously we often show up to work in a non-mindful way. We don’t consciously think about how we show up or the impact our unconscious behavior has on other people or the project we are working on.
Take a few minutes to thinking about the following:
- How you currently show up?
- How you want to show up?
If you weren’t sure about either answer, don’t worry. Begin by asking yourself these questions?
Ask yourself the following:
- When I sit down at my desk do I feel tired and overwhelmed or present and calm?
- Before responding to an employee who’s hasn’t been performing well, do I call and email him/her right away or do I step away from the situation to assess before responding?
- When I’m on a phone meeting and not face-to-face with others, do I usually check my phone or have my eye on my computer screen?
- Do I respond with awareness of a situation or am I simply reacting with my first thought, opinion or judgment?
- Do I take time each day for myself to do one healthy and stress relieving activity – meditation, yoga, exercise?
After answering the questions to yourself ask a colleague you trust the same set of questions about how they think you show up and what is the impact on your team.
Next, ask yourself these questions:
- Does your self-reflection align with your colleague’s perception of you? Is there a gap between your view and your colleague’s view?
- Does your colleague see areas of improvement? If yes, what will you do with that information?
While mindfulness may be the catch phrase of the moment, it’s impossible to ignore the evidence of how focusing your attention on the now or simply showing up and being present in the virtual workplace will allow leaders to look at situations in a new way, which will trickle down to their employees resulting in a happier and more engaged workplace.
Once you’ve answered the questions and discussed with a colleague you trust, check back for our next article where we’ll discuss the steps you can take to start to change your behavior and begin leading a present and engaged virtual workplace. It all starts with you!