How to Use Mindfulness at Work for Increased Profitability
Whatever type of business you are involved in, however different it may be from the next business, one thing will always be true. The business serves a purpose. There are objectives to be achieved. This is a fact whether you are conscious about how you set those objectives or not. The equation is simple. Your business offers some kind of product or service in return for a fee. If you don’t get paid, you don’t have a business. If you get paid less than it costs you to run the business, you soon won’t have a business. There’s one simple objective that all businesses share. Get paid and make a profit. This article sets out to show how mindfulness at work fits in with making you more profitable. Let’s start from the beginning.
Apples and pears…or something more complex
Humans have always been involved in business transactions in one way or another whether that was feeding and domesticating dogs so as to benefit from the early warning system that canines would provide, to swapping things they did not need with other groups who had things they needed. Wow! How far have we come since then! Virtually anything you can think of can be monetised in one way or another.
Nowadays people are paid to walk the dog, to send “glitter bombs” in the post, or to accurately manufacture tiny but essential parts for others…if you can imagine it, someone is probably selling it.
I run a talented team of digital marketers – all far brighter than me – who are great all-rounders while having their own specialist skills: SEO, social media marketing, paid search, web design & development so we can sell a wide range of digital marketing services.
What do you really sell?
This all comes down to need. I have something you want that I don’t need. You have something I want that you don’t need. We can swap. That’s business. If the needs are not met, that’s a sorry business and sooner or later the two parties will go their separate ways.
We often look at the product or service being sold and miss the underlying need. When somebody buys a car, are they just looking for something that gets them from A to B, a status symbol, something to cruise in or something to set the heart racing? When somebody asks for a website, are they looking for something that looks good on the internet or are they looking for something that really expresses what they are capable of in a user friendly, easy to find way, that makes it really easy for the right kind of visitor to buy their product or service. Employing mindfulness at work covers a lot more than meditation (which we will look at more closely shortly).
Mindfulness at Work – Be mindful of what you sell
The author is not just selling a book. Anyone can scribble words onto a few pages, have it bound and call it a book. The author is selling a journey, an experience, an escape for the reader or a gateway to some new ideas. A digital marketing agency is ultimately there to help clients increase turnover, or express a particular type of image or enter a new market. The nuts and bolts of what they do – the web development, the tweeting, the Facebook posts, the app development, the blog posts etc – are just the tools; they are a means to an end. When it comes to coming up with creative ideas to achieve goals, mindfulness works.
Mindfulness at Work -Be mindful of who you employ
Only today, a business leader I was talking to, said to me that it is far more important to hire the people with the right personality traits than just aiming for somebody with the right skill set. If somebody has skills but the wrong mindset, they can really hold a business back because they may not show a willingness to learn or to adapt. If somebody has limited skills but the right mindset, they will evolve with your business. Practising mindfulness at work is an effective way of encouraging the right mindset.
Mindfulness at Work -Be mindful of how you engage your team
This is another type of business transaction and therefore when we strip it down to its bare bones, we are left with the same exchange. You have to ensure you are giving each member of your team what they want and NEED while ensuring that they are giving you the service that you need from them. Some people are driven by money. Others want kudos and new challenges. Most employees want to be listened to and appreciated. How well do you tune in with your team as a group and as individuals?
Be mindful of your objectives and how you achieve them
This comes down to a balance of all the elements we have discussed. It means
- understanding your customer’s real needs
- understanding what mix of products and services you need to configure to meet those needs
- generating a company culture that encourages the most productive and creative thinking from your team members and makes the most out of their combined skill set, efficiently and effectively
Be mindful of how you develop your business
Nothing about business involves standing still or “there is no such thing as an even keel in business” as a former manager of mine used to say. Our market is changing. Your market is changing. The tools at our disposal are changing. In some languages, the word for change is also the word for opportunity.
Are you willing to seize opportunities? Are you willing to change?
Become more mindful through the practice of “mindfulness”
You don’t need to be a genius to see I have stressed the need to “be mindful” throughout this post and I have done it deliberately. Let’s take another look at what we have to be mindful about:
- Who we are
- What we really sell
- Who we are selling to
- Who we are employing
- How we engage our employees
- How we provide our service
- How we grow ourselves as a company
- How we grow as individuals and business leaders
So getting this mindfulness thing right leads to a lot of great stuff, right?
“Mindfulness” is sometimes used synonymously with “meditation” and can also be seen as a particular meditation technique. It is relatively easy to learn and has been linked with a whole range of excellent traits. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of mindfulness at work. Here are just a few:
- More creative thinking
- Reduced stress levels
- Increased resilience (the ability to move on quickly from negative events)
- Increased awareness / more objective perception
- Increased empathy and tolerance
- Heightened intuition
How does mindfulness work?
Human conditioning starts at an early age as we are bombarded with stimulation, experiences, education and the accumulation of memories. By the time most of us become adults our heads are filled with a humongous labyrinth of conditioned thoughts, emotional responses and behaviour patterns. When you combine this with the fact that we have a tendency to spend a lot of unconscious (and conscious) effort dwelling on the past and pondering the future, we often find ourselves emotionally and physically responding to anything but what is in front of us, here and now.
The more wrapped up we are in the past and the future, in expectations, emotions and conditioned thinking, the less likely we are to respond appropriately and effectively to the challenges we face. Negative emotions such as fear will stop us thinking creatively, provoke panic or reactive behaviour or the ostrich reaction. Remember the alleged definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and hoping for a different outcome.
Mindfulness works by training us to bring our full attention to the here and now, not only being aware of what is going on in the world around and observing it WITHOUT JUDGEMENT, but also monitoring our own reaction internally. If we are aware that something is making us feel fear, anger or frustration for example, just that awareness in itself will make it less likely that we are consumed by the feeling. We get to perceive the world and its challenges directly rather than through the prism of emotions.
Mindfulness at work for you and your team
Mindfulness is really simple to learn. Even if you find just 5 minutes to sit or lie down in a quiet area and just watch your own breathing as you inhale or exhale, to listen and to feel, that will bring about real stillness and presence of mind. By disengaging from mental chatter and allowing yourself to be still you also disengage from your own ego. When a group of people meditate together there is always an increased sense of connectedness when the session is over, and that is fantastic for team cohesion and collaboration. Don’t take my word for it. If you want to see how mindfulness works just give it a go one day.
Lower stress levels will make for better management and understanding of staff needs. Being more grounded in the present and more focused will allow team members to effectively respond to challenges rather than reacting to emotions. This means finding creative ways to deliver real solutions rather than robotically repeating what has been done before.
When you look at what a few minutes of daily mindfulness practice can inject into your team – happier, more productive and creative people who will want to stay and grow with your organisation – it is a no brainer in terms of staff retention and productivity. Freed from the negative emotional reactions that real pressure and deadlines can bring, you open the door to really creative thought patterns and solutions. Your clients get a better service that genuinely addresses their needs. Staff retention. Client retention. Innovative thinking. What’s not to like? Mindfulness at work will not happen by itself. It needs to be encouraged from the top down.
Mindfulness at work will bring increased profitability.