mindful

The Key to An Engaged Workforce: Show Up Mindfully

When you telecommute to your virtual office each day which may be steps away from your kitchen where your first cup of coffee is waiting for you, you’ve likely already checked emails, fulfilled some personal obligations and thought about work deadlines before you’ve officially started your “work day.”

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.

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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!

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.100/s12671-012-0144-z

 

By : Claire Sookman /September 29, 2014 /Performance Increase in Homeworkers /0 Comment Read More

Tips on recognizing and stopping negative energy from sabotaging your virtual team

In a previous post, we discussed being mindful of the energy (also known as emotional energy) in group environments and how to identify when a meeting is being sabotaged by an individual’s negative energy.

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What is negative energy then, and why is it important for teams and their leaders be aware of it?


In addition to our verbal and non-verbal communication, we all transmit signals to the outside world about how we’re responding to it – that’s the emotional energy that we put out. If we feel deflated or unengaged, it’s often something that others will feel and may impact how they feel, but have a hard time articulating how they can sense it. Psychologists refer to this as emotional contagion. When we talk about energy, we’re not talking about it in the physical energy capacity. Although, we are often able to feel when something isn’t working between people in a group environment, there’s no clear mathematical equation to measure the emotional energy that someone is putting out.

This emotional energy is strongly connected to a person’s internal state. It’s largely dependent on if their needs, both physical and emotional, are being met and if they feel like they are in a safe environment. When we are in a good or neutral state, negative things can happen and people are able to brush them off as minor nuisances. If, however someone is in a negative or emotional state, their perceptions and interpretations of the world will be impacted and as such, their interpersonal interactions will too. When this happens, the emotional energy coming from the person can quickly sabotage working groups – even from a distance.

Today, we’re going to explore some tips for how to recognize your contribution to the energy of the workplace, how to minimize negative energy in the workplace and how to foster positive energy to create behaviour that is congruent with team and company goals.

First things first, what energy are you bringing to your team?

Being mindful of the energy you bring in to each meeting is a good first place to start. As the team leader, bringing a positive vibe to meetings can help knock out any negative energy before it gets a chance to fester. Tony Swartz, President & CEO of The Energy Project and blog writer for the Harvard Business Review writes that: “The most fundamental job of a leader is to recruit, mobilize, inspire, focus, direct and regularly refuel the energy of those they lead.” Being aware of the energy you bring in to the room will better allow you to lead your team to focus on the energy they are putting out to their colleagues.

Is there an energy bandit at play?

In one of Swartz’s blog posts for The Energy Project, he shares a story about a new senior executive who, in a relatively short period of time, was able to detract from the highly positive year the company had been experiencing and create a destructive energy that was transmitted around the office. Swartz held himself responsible for allowing the executive to influence him, which then influenced his team. Instead of beating himself up, he used it as a learning opportunity. In addition to recognizing that it’s often difficult to leave our emotions at home and people need to be mindful of this when engaging in interpersonal situations, he identified that the emotions people bring to the team are as important as someone’s cognitive skills. When hiring, this can be an important consideration to take in to account.

That said, if you’re dealing with an already established team and you’re noticing that negative conversations are taking place more frequently, or problems are being identified without solutions being brought to the table, it’s possible that you’re dealing with an energy bandit. Take a step back and try to be objective in your reflection of the situation.

By stopping and assessing where the negative energy is coming from, you can determine if it’s one person that’s poisoning the workplace atmosphere, or a group of people who are potentially congruent in the negative vibes that are being transmitted. Because negative emotions can move quickly in a virtual environment and influence easily, it can zap motivation and momentum before you even know it’s an issue. This is why it’s best to be highly attuned to the team’s morale – if someone is not contributing to a positive morale, it may be time to have a conversation with them to find out what’s happening with them and why.

Listen

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between negative energy and constructive feedback. Sometimes a negative outlook is appropriate to the situation. Sitting back and listening, as well as asking open ended questions and repeating what you think you’ve heard are all good ways to determine clarity around if someone is being negative, or if their points are a legitimate point of conversation.

In virtual environments, we frequently don’t have cues such as facial expression and body language. We frequently make our own interpretations based on our assumptions about who is saying it and the situation being dealt with. Listening intently and asking for clarification are good ways to determine if negative energy is seeping in, or not. If you determine that the person is being negative, acknowledge their concerns and change the group focus to developing solutions to the issues. Guide the team towards thinking of what will work, versus what won’t work and why.

Being mindful of what you are bringing to the team, as well as the energy you feel circulating in the virtual atmosphere isn’t easy. The more you practice, the better you will get but seeing progress may take some time. Also, distractions can easily derail even your best intentions, so it’s important to stay focused on what you want to achieve with your team in respect to the energy going in and coming out of the work.

Persevere

Often, when we experience set-backs, we allow negative talk to invade our thoughts and we get derailed. When there’s a hitch in the plan, instead of derailing, try focusing on what is working to bring that positive energy back in. Publilius Syrus, a 1st century BC Latin writer is said to have written, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” By bringing your positive energy to your work, you can hold the helm regardless of what the sea is serving up.

Visit us in two weeks when we look at techniques to manage negative energy on your team. We’d love to hear from you on what you struggle with, or if you have ideas on how to respond to negative energy – drop us a line!

By : Amir Ahmed /April 23, 2014 /Blog /0 Comment Read More
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