Mindfulness seems like the latest buzz word. We hear it in the media, read about it online and may believe it has to do with a yoga guru and learning to say Om in the proper vocalization pattern. While parts of mindfulness can reflect upon our lives to relieve stress; such as yoga, exercise, or meditation, it can also be thought of as a way of paying attention in the moment. As supervisors, this becomes more important in the day to day activities of leading your team or handling conflict.
A supervisor carries their team. It is upon them to establish the emotional and mental culture of the group. It is their behavior and attitudes that shape their team. Behavior and attitudes can be contagious. It is the trickle-down effect. Sound like a big responsibility? It is in every sense. Leading from a place of mindfulness may be the key to a better experience as a boss and to leading a more productive team.
- Leadership starts with you: You are pulled in a thousand different directions. Everyone seems to demand your time and attention. There are quotas to meet and reports that need to be completed. It is most important to care for yourself with kindness and compassion. Good self- care can overflow into work and can positively influence your team. Lead by example. Be mindful of your needs each day.
- Be in the moment the best way possible: Leave your stuff at home. Don’t bring it to the office. Staff can be very intuitive when it comes to, not only listening to, but observing the behavior of their supervisors/bosses/directors and leaders. There is a tendency for all of us to overthink, ruminate or worry about outcomes of which we have no control in our personal and work life. When this happens we suppress, avoid, push away, and close ourselves off, emotionally and physically. Learn to be aware of the attitude you project to your staff.
- Connect with your team: Spending time each day or week to engage with your staff can help establish good working relationships within the team. For example, stopping to say hello or paying attention to the details of their lives. Perhaps Sally just became a grandmother or Joe just got back from a great Alaskan cruise, or Mike is struggling with health issues. Being mindful of your team’s needs and who they are as people helps you connect in a personal way. One does not have to become overly entangled in individuals’ lives, but a genuine show of interest or appreciation can have positive results.
- Encourage time-outs: Connect with your team and encourage timeouts. Not a clock in or clock out for lunch idea, but rather something different. For example, have your team take 10 minutes to walk away from their computers, go outside for a break, engage in small talk or laughter. Returning back to work after a timeout can refocus the mind. Timeouts are a chance to live in the moment, here and now, if even for 10 minutes. Another idea might involve a time out to meet in the break room to stretch or play a game. Some companies have on-going chess games or puzzles that staff can jump into during a timeout or a lunch break. More simply, take a time out to breathe and reflect.
- Improve communication: As a supervisor it is important to establish quality, clear and positive communication with your team. Without good communication others are left to assume what may or may not be true. Effective and honest communication requires a mindful presence. An ability to listen to understand, not to reply. Be aware of how your actions, your words, your body language and your attitudes impacts those around you. A willingness to have open and honest communication is a quality of a strong leader. It builds trust and respect. Be mindfully aware of your communication style so you can reflect positively on your team.
- Encourage change and growth: Learn to be mindful of how people handle change. Some people handle change well and they are at the head of the line to make it happen. Others handle change poorly or are slow in coming around when change happens. Be aware of your team and who they are, how they react and how they handle change. Help encourage and support the change in a positive way.
- Live authentically: Learn to set that positive and respected example for your team. Stay open and honest. Avoid gossip or negative talk about other team members or other supervisors. Stay genuine. Leading your team from a place of connecting, a place of encouragement and a mindful attitude will help to create a healthy and positive working team.
There will be times when conflict arises, or difficult situations must be addressed. These are the times when staying in the moment will help. It is easy to want to avoid the tough parts of being a leader or a boss. Stay true to yourself during those times. Know that you have to lead your team in the best possible way. Trust your instincts.
One final thought: Have fun! Relax and smile at work. Enjoy the people who provide the teamwork for your organization. Without them, there is no team. Be receptive to them. Let them see that personal, genuine happy side of you.
Don’t forget that KeySolutions EAP is here to help with personal stress or workplace issues. We are also able to help with a variety of mental health concerns. Now More Than Ever! Give us a call at 605-334-5850 or 1-888-450-7844.
Article by Beth Hall, MSW, ACT, EAP Counselor-KeySolutions