You’ll often hear great leaders speak of how it was really the people, their team, who led an organization to success. In fact, Steve Jobs once said: "Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people." Cultivating a great team is no easy task, it requires a delicate blend of skill, patience and leadership. Meditation can be an important tool that supports this process.
Science continuously demonstrates meditation to be a beneficial tool for improving the workplace. Utilizing meditation and mindfulness to create a productive and satisfying team environment is no exception. One recent study on mindfulness in the workplace found, “increases in team and organizational climate and personal performance” to be amongst a series of benefits increased during the study period. In a meditation program implemented at BlackRock, 52% of the respondents believed that meditation helped them “better manage relationships with peers at work.”
Below are some specific and actionable ways that meditation can foster impactful relationships, collaboration and productivity in your office.
Less Judgment. Judgment amongst colleagues can cause tense relationships, social anxiety and decreased performance. Cultivating a mindfulness practice can help keep judgment in perspective. In fact, studies show that a main skill developed through mindfulness is to become able to “accept-without-judgment.” As your team members become more mindful of their own actions, they can a) become less sensitive to critical feedback or judgment from others and b) become more forgiving in their perception of the actions of others. A work environment without judgment can lead to better relationships, more self-confidence and increased productivity. A simple guided meditation in which participants are asked to notice thoughts as they come and go, rather than judge them, is a great first step towards cultivating an attitude of non-judgment in your team.
Appreciation. In an article entitled, “5 Must-Have Attributes Of Every Successful Team” published on Forbes, authors David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom state “the best teams don’t wait for leaders to appreciate—they recognize one another’s great work regularly. When everyone knows their efforts are valued, they produce more great work.” To cultivate this kind of deep, unguided appreciation amongst employees consider asking them to participate in gratitude meditations. During these meditations, participants can reflect upon qualities of their colleagues, leaders and organization for which they are grateful.
Ability to express oneself. A 2008 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that “All elements of mindfulness were positively associated with expressing oneself in various social situations” and also that some mindfulness practices lead to greater empathy and less social anxiety. What does this have to do with teamwork? If teammates are able to understand their strengths and feel confident in expressing them to their team, they can lend these strengths to the greater good of the organization. Have your team tune into the things that make them great, becoming aware of how these strengths contribute to a successful team environment and taking ownership of their unique value to the organization.
Emotional regulation. Research has shown that meditation can help people regulate their emotions. Creating a work environment with low reactivity, especially in the face of pressure, can help teams excel. Implementing a mindfulness meditation practice in which participants are asked to acknowledge and accept their feelings and then ‘let them go’ can help nurture a calm and focused work environment.
Active listening. Learning to fully listen to what your colleagues are saying is an important act of mindfulness. Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” explains, “real relationships are created and real solutions are found when people are willing to listen with the intent to understand.” Elle Kaplan, CEO of Lexion Capital, has said that “active listening’ is the key to strong workplace relationships, productivity, and personal empowerment.” To cultivate this important tool, ask your team to practice listening to each other, without interruption, and repeat back what they heard. This act of mindful listening demonstrates true understanding, which can help build trust and empowerment amongst team members.
By implementing these very simple meditation techniques, you can foster a team environment that supports employee satisfaction, collaboration and productivity.
Interested in adding meditation to your organization’s wellness program? Learn more about Journey Meditation for Organizations.