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Can mindfulness really have a positive impact on employee engagement?

by | Feb 19, 2019

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We’ll let you in on a little-known secret: Mindfulness is the key to unlocking a lot of of potential in your organisation.

When your team is in-tune with how to activate and control their thinking patterns, they are much more likely to thrive and your business is more likely to reap the benefits of this success.

Teaching your team members how to be more mindful in their daily actions can improve their focus, motivation and buy-in. On top of that, when leaders are more mindful of the ways they choose to approach employee engagement, the results are often much more effective.

Let’s take a look at some key tips for achieving day-to-day mindfulness as well as some targeted ways leaders can be more mindful in how they engage their teams.

From mind-full to mindful: Focusing on the present

How can anyone continue to thrive if they aren’t able to put their best thinking to work?

Mindfulness is about being aware of what’s going on in your brain. The complete opposite of being “mind-full” by letting your brain get so full that you feel overwhelmed by information.

As an individual, what are some simple ways to achieve mindfulness?

1. Understand your thinking preferences

All of us have thinking preferences that help us – and sometimes hinder us – in our productivity. I have natural preferences in the area of research and analysis as well as thinking about the big picture and exploring new ideas. I have lesser preferences for dealing with details and getting organised.

I work hard to not let my desire to research and explore get in the way of actually getting a project done. This takes intentional effort, but becoming aware of your preferences is the first step in getting more deliberate about how you apply your thinking.

2. Get out of your own way by removing distractions

The goal is to manage your thinking processes rather than letting them manage you. We create obstacles to this by getting lost in multi-tasking: responding to a text while trying to have a conversation with somebody sitting in front of us, or checking email and browsing the web during a meeting.

We know that the brain is not a parallel processor. In other words, it can only do one thing at a time well. To be more mindful and more productive, shut down the sources of distraction. If necessary, write down any thoughts that nag at you so that they no longer tug at your attention.

3. Warm up for a deep dive

Finally, when you have a certain type of thinking to do, give yourself permission to do a deep dive. This includes warming up to the task and allowing time for your brain to function at full capacity.

For example, our ability to move between analytical and empathic thinking is limited. We can do both. But if we try to do them both at the same time, our efforts will cancel each other out.

So if you’re doing a task that requires you to be in tune with another person’s feelings, then prime your thinking. Recall an event that left you with positive emotions about another person. This helps you to engage in a deep way with someone else.

The role of active mindfulness for leaders

Of course, a big part of the mindfulness responsibility sits with business leaders. This takes the form of being more mindful of how to motivate and engage the different types of thinkers in your business.

While mindfulness on your individual tasks is critical, being mindful of the fact that your team is made up of all different types of thinkers should have a serious impact on the tools and methods you use to effectively engage them.

Here’s a look at what each of the four thinking preferences of the Whole Brain® Model needs from you and how you can begin to unleash the inner motivation of different thinkers on your team.

A Quadrant: Needs accuracy, data, clarity of purpose, logical and rational basis for doing something

Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the A quadrant:

  • Ask for input on breaking down and solving complex challenges.
  • Focus on the bottom-line impact of decisions, backed up by facts.
  • Allow opportunities for thinking critically and taking decisive action, and provide access to necessary data, technology, research, and tools.
  • Be clear about goals, accountabilities, and purpose.

B Quadrant: Needs order, structure, safety, rules, details, well-articulated plans, consistency

Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the B quadrant:

  • Ask for input on how to implement and execute on critical strategies in the midst of chaos or tight deadlines.
  • Focus on the ethics, risk management and quality impact of decisions.
  • Allow opportunities for self-management and singularity of focus.
  • Be clear about agendas, timeframes, and expectations.

C Quadrant: Needs to “talk it out,” collaborate, express ideas, teach others, understand the human impact

Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the C quadrant:

  • Ask for input on improving trust, relationships and customer value.
  • Focus on values and the human impact of decisions.
  • Allow opportunities for connection and collaboration (e.g., video-enabled virtual meetings, communication tools like Slack, etc.) — especially important for those working virtually.
  • Check in regularly and ask for feedback/”pulse checks.”

D Quadrant: Needs flexibility, simultaneity, creativity, non-structured environment, opportunity to experiment and take risks, understanding of the big picture

Ideas for unleashing inner motivation in the D quadrant:

  • Ask for input on ways to challenge the status quo and come up with breakthrough solutions.
  • Focus on context and long-term, strategic impact of decisions.
  • Allow opportunities for thinking creatively, trying out lots of different ideas and learning from failures, and provide the freedom to experiment.
  • Use metaphors and “paint a picture” of your vision of the future.

No matter how someone prefers to think, each of us becomes more motivated when we’re able to spend more time on the work that most stimulates us and when we have a say over how that work gets done.

To learn more about how you leverage Whole Brain® Thinking to improve engagement across your organisation, reach out to the Herrmann team today!

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