Change is tough on people. So how can change management, with its focus on people, use mindfulness to encourage awareness and involvement?
I was recently given a book as a gift written by ABC journalist Dan Harris titled 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works-A True Story.
My first thought upon receiving it was ‘this is just another one of those fads that will be forgotten about in 2016’. However anything that claims to reduce my stress grabs my attention so I decided to read it.
Not only did this book make me see the benefit for me, but what a difference this practice could make to businesses and people during change.
Stress at work
Can you think of a time at work when you had so many plates spinning that the resultant anxiety made you become inert? This happens to so many of us on a daily basis and can seriously hinder performance and general wellbeing and also the business’s bottom line.
What is mindfulness?
Oxford dictionary defines mindfulness as “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
Applying it to business change
Resistance to change – Awareness
Practicing mindfulness allows you to become aware of what you are feeling and your reactions which subsequently increase self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EI) in general which is a prevalent factor in effective leaders (Sadri, 2012).
One of the most difficult times in the change journey is when people feel overwhelmed and they commonly lose heart during the so called trough of the change curve where real despondency can hit.
Encouraging people to reflect on change allows a level of distance and objectivity. It allows the individual to see the condition as temporary and also accept the way they feel and normalise this period of ill adjustment that could otherwise alienate them from change and cause resistance in the long term.
Face to face interviews between the change team and those going through the change can cultivate awareness. Your team doing the communicating should use their empathy at this point to bring out greater awareness.
Leading change – Focus
When faced with complex change, taking a break to sit quietly (leave the emails alone!) to clear your mind can conjure up new ideas and a new perspective. This is also a great way to spark creativity and innovation. Blocking everything out and focusing on one key thing lets you think creatively about a solution.
Putting across this focus in your communications also drives clarity and commitment around a vision. Execution of change starts with focus. What’s the real driver for change, the idea outcome? Keeping focused on this puts a strong central message out to the business and focuses your thoughts on how to best reach your goal.
A close focus on the real driver for change, the real desired outcome, throughout execution – from planning to delivery to stakeholders – will keep the benefits in sight and keep the big vision compelling throughout change –a huge advantage in elevating your programme above the noise and chaos of change taking place every in business.
Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for employees as it can increase creativity, innovation, reduce stress and increase collaboration. Not only is this beneficial for the individual but the increased productivity and wellbeing can positively impact the business change outcomes.
This isn’t a new concept however we have just scratched the surface as to how mindfulness can play a key part in business success so expect to see much more on this topic in the future.
Sadri, G. (2012). Emotional intelligence and leadership development. Public Personnel Management, 41(3), 535-548.
Hunter, J. (2013). Is mindfulness good for business?
Harris, D (2014). 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.