Mindfulness In The Workplace

Humans are programmed to seek happiness and fulfillment in their lives. As we spend a substantial part of our lives at work, we ought to seek the same fulfillment in our workplace. Happiness has been found to be increased by pursuing intrinsic goals, behaving autonomous, satisfying basic psychological needs, as well as being mindful and acting with a sense of awareness.

The concept of mindfulness refers to a psychological state, the open awareness of present-moment experiences. There has been growing evidence of the positive effects of across various domains, in both academic, as well as corporate fields. Research has found evidence that mindfulness allows organisations to perform more efficiently and more reliably, which can be see crucial in today’s ever-changing environment.

Awareness of the present moment

Globalisation, environmental change, and organisational competitiveness and need for innovation bring about numerous challenges in the workplace. This can further effect the work environment and culture, as well as individuals’ levels of stress, engagement, and productivity. In order to tackle the challenging environment and obtain individuals’ full potential, we should fully acknowledge not only our skills and abilities, but increase our awareness of ourselves, and observing the present moment in which we are operating in.

Open your eyes

Mindfulness has been described as a type of mental training of stopping, observing, and understanding one’s present experience in order to reduce emotional distress and maladaptive behavior. Mindfulness includes awareness of current external stimuli, as well as of internal processes, such as emotions, perceptions, and cognitions. By becoming mindful, individuals tend to cease from unhealthy automatic thought and behaviour patterns. As a consequence, individuals are now more self-regulated and respond to their environment more effectively.

Slow down – maximise your potential

The concept of mindfulness in the workplace might appear as mere form of meditation for some, but the idea is not only to observe our existence in the present, but also improve our behaviour patterns at work. These might be more deeply rooted than we think. The mindful states of consciousness also allow flexibility, as individuals can be aware of everything taking place in the here and now or attend to situational details. Thus, contrary to common beliefs, slowing down can sometimes be necessary in the fast paced economy.

Benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Mindful individuals neither dwell on the past nor worry about the future. This can be found particularly beneficial in the workplace.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the workplace

  • Engagement

Mindful employees obtain, retain and protect the resources needed to be energetic, enthusiastic and immersed in their job.

  • Decrease of stress

Mindfulness-based programs provide effective interventions to target high stress levels, sleep quality, and autonomic balance in employees.

  • Conflict resolution

When people become more aware of what triggers their negative reactions, they become less susceptible to being blind- sided in conflict.

  • Leadership skills

Supervisors’ trait mindfulness has been found to increase their employees’ well-being and performance.

  • Promoting work-life balance

To reduce unwanted psychological preoccupation with work concerns, employees find their ideal way to manage their work-life balance.

  • Increase of emotional intelligence
  • Awareness of fine detail, providing the capability to discover and manage unexpected events.

 

Exercising mindfulness – practice makes perfect

Mindfulness strategies can be learned through coaching sessions or step-by-step approach. The fundamental practices for mindfulness are based on individuals being encouraged to pay attention to such experiences as the sensation of their breath, inner stream of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Individuals can also develop triggers to everyday experiences, which would further remind them to be mindful. Key to mindfulness, as when learning any new skill, is practice and repetition.

Finally, when utilising mindfulness in the workplace, linking the exercises with 360 assessments may provide even more substantial way to dig into one’s potential.

So go on, embrace mindfulness in 2015!

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Davitt Corporate Partners are now OPP’s Gold level Alliance Partner for Ireland

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After becoming OPP’s only Irish Alliance Partner last year, Davitt Corporate Partners have now been awarded the highest level of Alliance Partnership with OPP – Gold status. In fact, we are one of only seven Gold Alliance Partners in all of Eurasia.

Gold Alliance Partner status is reserved for consultancies with at least four practitioners qualified in OPP instruments, and with proven success in their OPP-product related business.

 

Click HERE to view our Certificate

 

Click on logo below:

OPP

 

 

 

 

 

Extreme Productivity – HBR May 2011

Bob Pozen’s article in HBR outlines six useful yet simple principles which enable him to be more productive in his working life. We at DCP think that these can be applied by most people, allowing them to be more productive and efficient in their own lives. The principles are as follows:

Know your comparative advantage:

  • Decide, not which tasks you can do best but which of the tasks only you can do, then delegate the others to team members who can also produce results in this area. This applies not just to CEOs but also mid-level executives
  • Similarly, if you are more skilled in one area, but able in another area, one in which others are not, turn your hand to the latter as it is where your talents will be best utilised and you will be most useful
  • Many executives spend too long on operational details and would be better to hire an EA to perform certain tasks in order to free up their own time to focus on more strategic big picture issues and save them from getting bogged down in the detail

 

It’s not the time you spend, but the results you produce:

  • Pozen, while working for a law firm in Washington found that billing clients by the hour encouraged people to work long hours and was counterintuitive to producing quick results. He advocates focusing on results rather than hours billed and charging clients accordingly, thus allowing a better work-life balance

 

Think First, Read or Write Second:

  • Know what you want to achieve before beginning writing. Outline four or five key points and then write the conclusion so that you know where your article or email is going
  • Similarly, he advises his children, when studying, after each chapter they read, to write no more than the one paragraph that they want to recall at exam time, this focuses them in their reading to make it as efficient as possible

 

Prepare Your Plan, but Be Ready to Change It:

  • When speaking to a group, don’t write out a speech, jot down the key points you wish to cover and a concluding paragraph. Get to the event early enough to hear the speaker before you in order to gauge the mood of the audience and tailor your points to its state of mind.
  • Keep at least one hour a day free in your schedule to allow you to deal with any unexpected events in a timely fashion.  If your day is filled back to back with meetings or phone calls, an unanticipated development can be much more difficult and disruptive than if you allow some free time each day to deal with such eventualities

 

Let Others Own Their Space:

  • Rather than telling team members and direct reports what needs to be done and how to do it, encourage debate by outlining the issue and a “tentative path” but encouraging people to disagree and suggest alternatives  – allowing others to come up with a better approach
  • At the end of a meeting, sum up by asking what needs to be done, who is going to do it and when will the objectives be delivered. This allows people involved to agree on what needs to be done and to set their own timeline, giving them an ownership interest in the project
  • An added bonus to this approach according to Pozen is that often people will come forth with more ambitious timelines and targets than he might have dared suggest

 

Keep it Simple:

  • Keep the material aspects of life as simple as possible in order to maximize your productivity. For example Pozen has five summer work outfits and five winter ones. He also follows the same breakfast routine and has the same thing for lunch each day, thus minimizing his choices and maximising his time
  • Keep meetings to an hour or an hour and a half at most, people tend to switch off after an hour and a half and productivity declines as a result
  • Circulate materials for a meeting to all participants in advance of the meeting and include a one page executive summary and ensure that everyone knows that it is necessary to read it in advance
  • The first five or ten minutes of a meeting should be the time in which the presenter sets the stage and outlines the key questions, the remaining time should be used to discuss issues and formulate a plan – as opposed to meetings in which the presenter talks through every word on 20 or more slides while everybody listens politely

 

Even by choosing to integrate one or two principles into your everyday life can make an impact on your productivity, so pick the ones that you think will make a difference to you and give them a go!

Networking

Networking is an important part of any job, essential for building not just your own personal brand but your organisations. While some people love events that give them the opportunity to network, others may not enjoy meeting and making conversation with strangers and view such events as daunting situations at best. Below, we outline some of our favourite tips for making the most of networking events.

Top Tips:

  • Keep your introduction simple and remember the name of the person you are talking to
  • Arrive early – this enables you to meet people at the beginning, when groups won’t yet have formed and will allow you to get to meet multiple people at once
  • If possible, bring someone with you – a networking wingman, a colleague who is also interested in attending the event – it can be easier to network when there are two of you
  • Find a group of three – three is the magic number as it is not so big you won’t be noticed and a group of three generally means that two others have already allowed someone else to join their conversation. Approach the group and see if someone either invites you to join the conversation, or wait until there is a natural break in the conversation and ask if you can join in

 

Conversation Starters:

  • As with point one above, when introducing yourself, keep it simple, “Hi, I’m X” will work very nicely for starters
  • At events with food, this can be a useful conversation starter, simply asking the person what they are having and whether it is good can be an easy and natural way to strike up a conversation
  • Remember, if networking isn’t your favourite pastime, other people don’t necessarily enjoy it either, approaching someone who is alone and looks slightly uncomfortable and saying something like “these events can be so crazy, mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?” can be a good way of striking up a conversation with them
  • “Was it difficult for you to get here?”  is a safe one in most cities where traffic is generally terrible
  • Follow up on any of the above conversation starters by asking them some questions, you already have something in common – the event you are attending, ask them what attracted them to this particular event with questions such as “What about this event caught your attention?”, or “You seem to know a lot of people here, tell me about your involvement with the group”
  • Use open ended questions whenever possible – use the “who, what, when, where and why” approach. Open-ended questions encourage the flow of conversation and prevent awkward silences
  • Explore origins with questions such as “How did you first get started in this?” “How did that begin”, “How did you become interested in this?”

 

Remember:

  • Listen actively to what the person you are talking to is saying, ask questions at appropriate times, don’t interrupt and acknowledge what they are saying either with a nod of agreement or verbally if appropriate
  • Don’t hand out business cards unless someone asks for them
  • Talk about what you know, brush up on current events ahead of the event and keep it non-controversial!
  • Smile and be confident, in yourself, your skills and your experience

 

Power Posing

Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk is a must watch, not just for those who wish to appear more powerful in the workplace, it is useful in and transferrable to a variety of evaluative situations. In it, Cuddy explains how a simple pose, held for just two minutes can have a significant impact on our portrayal of oneself, not just to others but to ourselves too.

“Power Poses” as Cuddy dubs them, are innate and can be seen in primates and humans alike. Examples of “power poses” include making oneself bigger by stretching out, sitting with hands behind your head with your elbows extended, the Wonder Woman pose – with hands on hips and feet hip distance apart and the Pride pose – extending ones arms above one’s head in a V shape – commonly seen by athletes in victory. These “poses” all make us look and (perhaps more importantly) feel more powerful. Congenitally blind people who have never seen these poses have been known to adopt the Pride pose when they are victorious in a physical competition.

 

Cuddy notes  that powerful people tend to be:

  • More assertive
  • More confident
  • More optimistic
  • Able to think more abstractedly
  • More likely to take risks

 

However, there are also physiological differences between powerful and less powerful people. High testosterone and low cortisol are indicative of the ideal power cocktail. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for dominance and cortisol is the hormone which is created with stress. Therefore, the ideal combination in an effective leader is high testosterone and low cortisol as power is not simply about being dominant, it also involves how one deals with stress.

Cuddy details an experiment carried out with her colleague Dana Carney on power poses. They found that when subjects in an experiment were asked to adopt a described power pose for two minutes, their testosterone increased by 20% and their cortisol decreased by 25%. In contrast, for those who were asked to adopt a non-power pose, or a more submissive pose, Cuddy found that their testosterone decreased by 10% and their cortisol increased by 15%. When all subjects were offered the opportunity to gamble after adopting the specified pose, 86% of those who adopted the power pose gambled, as opposed to 60% of those who adopted the non-power pose.

Cuddy points out that our bodies have the ability to change our minds, our minds change our behaviour and our behaviour changes our outcomes. Simply by adopting a pose for as little as two minutes can have a huge impact on how we are perceived and how we perceive ourselves in a given situation.

She explains that this can be used in real life situations, including:

  1. Job interviews
  2. Making presentations
  3. Giving a pitch
  4. Speaking at a meeting

 

Cuddy adapted the above experiment so that people were asked to either adopt a power pose or a non-power pose for two minutes before going into a 5 minute interview where the interviewers were trained to give no verbal feedback whatsoever to the participants – a stressful and uncomfortable situation. After the interview, which was filmed, the interviewees were evaluated by judges who were blind to the hypothesis and conditions of the experiment, but simply had to decide whether they would hire the participant or not. Cuddy reports that the judges wanted to hire all of those in the high power pose group and evaluated them much more favourably than the low power pose group regardless of the content of their speech.

Therefore, Cuddy recommends that before going into an evaluative situation, such a job interview or before giving a presentation – simply take two minutes (in private!) and adopt a power pose – put your hands in the air in a V or stand in the Wonder Woman pose. It will impact not just how others perceive you but also how you perceive yourself.

Finally, Cuddy points out that people may be afraid that by adopting these techniques, they may be “faking it til they make it”, but what happens when they get to where they want to be and feel like they shouldn’t be there – or suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”? Her advice is simple, don’t fake it til you make it, fake it til you become it.

 

To view Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk, please click on the link below:

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are

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Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Labour

Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Labour: A Comparison Study Using the Emotional Capital Report (ECR) by Martyn Newman & Kenneth H. Smith

Education and Society
Vol. 32, No. 1, 2014

Abstract

This study examined the relationship of emotional intelligence (EI) to jobs requiring emotional labour in a sample of 6,874 participants from eleven countries or geographical regions. In particular, the current study examined the relationship of a mixed model of EI, as measured by the Emotional Capital Report (ECR), to emotional labour identified in recent literature as performed by workers in three types of service occupations, customer service, social control and caring. Previous research had reported that individuals high in EI may be more likely to perform well in jobs requiring emotional labour and, as such, emotional labour was an important moderator of the EI-performance relationship.

Results of this study supported the existence of a moderate relationship between a mixed model of EI and emotional labour and thus provided further support for this claim. The findings suggest that where jobs require high emotional labour, EI is likely to assist individuals to know both when to perform emotional labour and how to alter emotional behavior to meet organizational goals. Furthermore, when service occupations were examined for the type of emotional labour performed, those in customer service occupations produced significantly higher scores on 8 out of 10 ECR subscales. Taken together, the findings suggest that when considering the EI-performance link it is important toconsider both the occupational context as well as the emotional intelligence of individuals. Limitations of the study and future directions are discussed, along with practical implications for both researchers and human resource personnel seeking to improve the job related performance of employees.

Read the full article here: Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Labour- A Comparison Study Using the ECR

Intuitive Decision Making

When to trust your gut

Business leaders are involved in a daily regime of decision making, how then do they quickly make decisions effectively? How do they instinctively know what the right decision is? How does one hone this ability and does it always work? Hayashi tries to explain this phenomenon in the Harvard Business Review. After interviewing many top executives he found that they had difficulty explaining how they made important decisions which were seemingly counterintuitive, but were in fact the essence of intuition. Words which were used to try to explain how they knew instinctively what to do included “professional judgement”, “gut instinct”, and “hunch”, but that was as deep as the explanations became.

What Is Your “Gut”?

The left brain and right brain terms were adopted to distinguish between rational, conscious and logical thought processes (left brain) and subconscious, emotional and intuitive thought processes (right brain). The mind is continuously processing information that you are not necessarily aware of, both during sleep and while you are awake.  A sense of revelation occurs when your conscious mind learns something which your subconscious mind has already known – the “aha” feeling.  The brain is also linked to other parts of your body through the central nervous system, explaining why intuitive feelings are often compounded by a physical reaction.

Top executive tap into their right brain by engaging in activities such as:

  • Jogging
  • Daydreaming
  • Listening to music
  • Meditating

 

The X Factor

The ability to make effective decisions in this way becomes more important as one moves up the ranks in an organisation. At middle management levels, decision making can be more of a quantitative process, but when problems become more complex and ambiguous, intuition is required to an increasing degree. While it may be an elusive concept in many ways, top CEOs such as Larsen, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson and Abdoo, the CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corporation agree that to ignore your gut leads to bad decisions. While the available data might support a proposal, there are times when intuition will lead them to know, if it is a good or a bad deal.

The Importance of Emotions

Damasio, a leading neuroscientist at the University of Iowa College of Medicine found that patients with damage to a specific area in their prefrontal cortex not only had trouble experiencing certain emotions, but also with making even very simple decisions. Damasio believes that this adds weight to the notion that emotion is inextricably linked to decision making and not always the cold, detached process that some believe it to be. According to Damasio, “our emotions and feelings play a crucial role by helping us filter various possibilities quickly, even though our conscious mind might not be aware of the screening. Our intuitive feelings thus guide our decision making to the point at which our conscious mind is able to make good choices.”

A Pattern in Patterns

The ability to see a pattern or make sense of market data is compared to doing a jigsaw. Those with more diverse experience, both in life and the workplace, will have a greater wealth of analogies to draw from, so, while they may not have seen that exact pattern before, they may have seen one similar in a different context, and therefore, they will be better equipped to deal with the pattern or problem and know “instinctively” how to what to do. Grand masters in chess for example, can remember up to 50,000 significant patterns of the ways in which the chess pieces can be arranged on the board. Other useful information is linked to these patterns, such as possible defensive or offensive moves that the clusters might lead to.  Therefore, they are able to make decisions “intuitively” but the process is not as magical as it may appear, they are simply drawing from previous knowledge, without a conscious awareness of the process their brains are going through to come to this conclusion.

 

Cross-Indexing

According to Hayashi, the ability to apply principles learned in one field to problems in another, is the key to truly excellent intuitive decision making. The power of this increases with the variety and diversity of a person’s background as they will have had more exposure to, and therefore have the ability to recognise more patterns.

When Instincts are Wrong

Sometimes of course our instincts can be blurred and as a result we make poor intuitive decisions. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Taking unnecessary risks to recover a loss
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy – doing our best to make a decision work – resulting in it being a good one
  • Overconfidence – research has shown that we tend to overestimate our ability in most areas – decision making included

 

Self-checking seems to be the way that top executives avoid these pitfalls. they take time to reflect on and rehash the decisions they have made – particularly the bad ones, frequently learning something new about the decision which helps them in future decision making.

 

Finally, perhaps the most useful aspect of intuitive decision making is that it can be used for rapid responses. Even if the wrong decision is made, intuitive decision makers find that they can quickly change it to take a different route, leading, over time to more right decisions than wrong ones.

 

From HBR Summer 2014

Managing Organisational Time

Time is an often little managed, but scare resource in an organisation. As the old adage goes, “time is money” and never has this been more true than in today’s world, where organisations and their people are facing an hourly onslaught of emails, instant messaging, phone calls and video conferences. Time spent on these interactions limits the amount of available time with customers and slows down an organisation, with financial performance suffering as a result.

On average, 15% of an organisation’s collective time is spent in meetings.

Time should be treated as a scare resource, and like any scare resource, it should be invested carefully. Organisations who budget their time as carefully as their capital have lowered their overhead expenses and liberated countless hours of previously unproductive time for its employees.
time-is-money-2

How organisational time is squandered:

Email – some executives receive 200 emails a day – 30,000 per year

Meeting time – senior executives devote more than 2 days a week on average attending meetings; 15% of an organisations collective time is spent in meetings.

Dysfunctional meeting behaviour emailing within meetings and double booking meetings knowingly and later deciding which to attend.

Weekly department meetings which are attended by all members of that department are often time consuming and costly with an hourly meeting, attended by eight members of staff representing one full day’s work. A one hour meeting beginning five minutes late represents 8% wastage in terms of time.

 

Six Practices for Managing Organisational Time:

  1. Make the agenda clear and selective – separate the urgent from the important
  2. Create a zero-based time budget – assess the efficiency and effectiveness of your company’s regular meetings and eliminate unnecessary ones and shorten those that are too long
  3. Clearly delegate authority for time investments – ensure the correct person is requesting the meetings and that there is just cause for the meeting.
  4. Require business cases for all new projects – to ensure that they are viable and worthwhile
  5. Establish organisation-wide time discipline – have agendas with clear objectives, prepare in advance by distributing all materials before the meeting, thus reducing time devoted to information sharing during the meeting. Begin on time, an hour long meeting 5 minutes late costs the company 8% of its meeting time. Early ending if the meeting is going nowhere or if participants are unprepared
  6. Provide feedback to manage organisational load

 

Taken from Harvard Business Review May 2014