Mindfulness contributes to culture change
Mindfulness has attracted a lot of attention and more people are adopting it every day. A philosophy and practice with origins in eastern cultures, it is now popular the world over. Being simple and logical, adoption across cultures with some changes has been possible quite easily. Mindfulness practice helps people balance their lives with benefits of lower stress, a more holistic view of life, and better relationships.
In recent times, Mindfulness programs have also been introduced in the workplace in many organizations, and more are companies are taking to it. Organizations have designed their programs to enable their employees to improve productivity, handle complex work situations, and have better professional relationships. While these are credible objectives, I believe Mindfulness programs have much greater potential.
Mindfulness programs can be an excellent tool for organization culture change. As most people know – culture change is extremely challenging. Culture change has to address pre-conceived notions/assumptions of roles & responsibilities, opinions, communication barriers, invisible walls around departments, barriers to professional relationships & collaboration.
Mindfulness practice enables people to:
- Indulge in authentic behavior.
- Build present moment awareness.
- Accept self & others.
- Respond with maturity.
- Maintain a balance between professional & personal life.
- Introspect deeply over actions and consequences.
This is exactly what can enable behavior change!
In order that Mindfulness programs at the workplace serve as catalysts for culture change, they need to have reach across the company. Scaling the program in large global organizations requires leadership interest, commitment & involvement. It is also vital to have champions who can spread awareness of the program, communicate success stories, and act on feedback. This is especially important as participation in such programs is voluntary.
A good way to scale Mindfulness programs is to ensure that leaders attend the early sessions and take a personal interest in the success, other than HR and champions. Since the organization hierarchy is strongly influenced by leadership behavior, this provides an excellent opportunity for leaders to set an example by walking the talk. Mindful leaders who display better customer & employee understanding, focus and empathy, positively influence organization culture.
The interest such programs generate among employees depends on the objectives communicated to the employees, as also the quality and format of the content itself. The programs need to be creative in potentially using a combination of lectures, videos, role-play, story-telling and exercises in order to enable employees to imbibe key takeaways for behavior change.
Personal effectiveness aspects such as self-control, stress management, productivity are worthy goals to have. It is, however, far more useful to outline a more compelling longer term vision for an open, collaborative culture where all employees can bring forward their original and creative self without fear.
Culture change certainly requires more than Mindfulness programs. Leadership intervention is critical to remove roadblocks which exist in organization structure, policies, procedures, systems, facilities, and mitigate certain external conditions.
I believe Mindfulness programs at the workplace can offer a number of benefits to both the individual and the organization, and are time well spent.