How to Integrate Mindfulness Practices Into the Work Day

by Judith Sugg, Ph.D.

Mediation, yoga, and breathing practices used to be confined to yoga studios and the like. Now these practices are cropping up everywhere, including big companies like Google and Intel.

But really, do they fit in our workday? The mountain of evidence to support these practices for improving health, training focus in our scattered world, and reducing stress is, well, striking. For the most part, the results of this research is wildly positive.

So why doesn’t everyone adopt these practices? One recent exploratory study* out of a business school looked at a particularly intense environment, health care, using self-selected professionals. Some professionals found they could integrate mindfulness into their workday, and some didn’t. The researchers now wondered: What’s the difference between these two groups? Why do some adopt these practices more readily?

Maybe the question really isn’t about “adopting” these practices. Maybe the word is choosing, in the moment, to use them. This is partly motivation, but mostly about habit. We are, of course, creatures of habit. Our mind chatter is particularly repetitive (and would be pretty boring if we had to read it), and it is difficult to break that habit of chatter.

Even after 30 years of practicing, when I get a grumpy email, my mind goes into a whirlwind. It takes a toned muscle of choice to get myself out of the whirlwind and into a more centered state. This muscle is the same muscle trained in meditation to bring your mind back to your focus (usually your breath). Inevitably, the mind wanders out into the ozone, makes up stories and conversations, gets emotional, and wanders off again. Without the muscle of choice being able to kick in, no fancy technique will get used.

And that is why practice, even a few minutes a day, is important as a simple and powerful reminder. Simple, brief practices for workplaces are a powerful step in the right direction because, ultimately, health in the workplace can mean something as simple as a breath done with great consciousness in a high stress moment.

Learn techniques to reduce stress and enhance productivity at our March 15th workshop.

* Lyddy, Schachter, Reyer, & Julliard. (2016). Transfer of Mindfulness Training to the Work Setting: A Qualitative Study in a Health Care System.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is co-director of AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized programs, facilitation, coaching and interactive training to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  For more information about the programs we offer, please contact us at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 481-7586.

 

Mindful Listening is THE Best Tool for Conflict Resolution

By Alisa Blum, MSW & Judy Sugg, Ph.D:  AIM for Organizational Health

conflict-res-2-people

You may think you can multitask and listen exquisitely. You can’t. The two are incompatible, and when conflict arises, the lack of attention and listening, coupled with high emotion, can easily derail any attempts at resolution.

We advocate not just listening in conflict situations, and not even just listening well. We advocate Mindful Listening as the most effective skill for conflict resolution. Mindful listening requires being highly attuned to both our own emotions and the emotions of others. When we listen mindfully we observe our own emotional state with curiosity. We keep self-talk and judgment at bay. In communicating with others, we listen with as clear a head as possible. We pay exquisite attention in order to really hear what is going on with the other person-in words, tone, emotions and body language.

Try these steps the next time you are faced with communicating with someone you don’t see eye to eye with:

  1. Before engaging with the other person, clear your head with a compassion meditation. This will help you stay calm and be more compassionate toward yourself and the other person.
  2. Stay focused on what you are hearing the other person say as well as what you observe.   Paraphrase with empathy, what you hear and describe the emotions you notice.

You will find that when you stay calm and the other person feels heard, you will be taking significant steps toward de-escalating negativity and resolving your conflict.

More conflict resolution tips can be found in the book, “Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness” by Judy Sugg & Alisa Blum.   For questions about our consulting, training & coaching, you can reach us at (503) 481-7586 or aimportland@gmail.com. Program information can be found at www.aimportland.com.

 

Celebrate Your Employees With High Impact Recognition

 

Portrait Of Business Team In Office Celebrating

Last year I had the opportunity to help a client combine their annual holiday lunch appreciation event with a management development program on the power of recognition.  The nature of this client’s busy business prevented them from being able to get their managers together very often for a training.  This event was an ideal way to combine a management development program with their annual holiday event. The business owner enhanced the motivation of her managers by providing them with recognition and the managers learned strategies for providing high impact recognition to their employees.

Whether you give your employees gifts, cards, bonuses, or have a public forum for letting your employees know how much you appreciate them, make sure each and every employee is aware of the specific ways they contribute to the success of your organization.  And keep in mind that for recognition to be effective, it should be given throughout the year and tied to individual and team performance goals.

When given correctly, the recognition you give will enhance motivation, improve productivity and increase the retention of your top talent.

 

Alisa Blum & Associates works with businesses & organizations to select, develop and keep a high achieving workforce.  

Resolve Conflict by Taking the Other Person’s Perspective

Young businessman being confronted by his angry female boss. Isolated on white.

In conflict, your perspective is, by definition, different from the other person’s.

Both of you have feelings, desires, and maybe your self-esteem is at stake.  You can be strategic in resolving conflict by being self-aware and also “other aware”.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but knowing where the other person is coming from is valuable and humanizing.

Start with yourself: What causes you to view the situation this way?  How does your culture, personality, or circumstance show up?  Now imagine the other person: What do you know about them?  Their values?  Position?  What’s important to them?  What shows up about their culture, personality, or circumstance?

To understand another person’s perspective we must be willing to suspend our own opinions and look through the world through their eyes.  What are the pressures in their life?  What is driving their behavior and attitude?

When we gain this type of insight, we more easily diffuse the tension.  By small indications of understanding like, “I’m guessing you are under pressure because of the deadline”, we create space to maneuver. Taking the other person’s perspective is a powerful strategy for sidestepping judgements that block effective communication.

This post is an excerpt from “Six Word Lessons for Transforming Conflict at Work” by Judith Sugg & Alisa Blum.  This book can be purchased from amazon.com here:  Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness.

Contact us to explore how we can help your organization reduce conflict and enhance productivity.

 

Ease Into Conflict

TC header 1-titleThink about the last time you were in conflict with someone. How did it feel? Since conflict normally feels so unpleasant, we tend to do our best to avoid it. What if conflict didn’t feel so bad? Would you, then, be less likely to avoid it and find an acceptable resolution?

At our workshop on March 11th, we will show you how mindfulness can help you transform conflict so it resolve differences with ease. Our workshop will be held at Turtles Yoga & Wellness in Beaverton. The workshop will run from 1:30 to 3:00 with time for snacks and networking afterward. Our participants have been invited to stay for a free restorative yoga class at 5 p.m. We promise you will leave feeling refreshed and ready to handle the challenges you are facing.

Detailed information and registration can be found at bit.ly/TfmWav.

 

Develop Top Employees by Overcoming Barriers to Providing Positive Feedback

motivated businessman

Positive performance feedback has been shown to lower turnover, increase productivity, enhance teamwork and improve customer service.  This fairly simple skill is often lacking in today’s workplace.

These three common barriers can be overcome with specific strategies that will help you develop top employees:

  1. Lack of Time:  We often overestimate the time it takes to give feedback.  Consider how long it actually takes to say: “Thank you for helping me with…” or  “Here is how your contribution impacted our work…”.
  2. Lack Understanding of the Need for Feedback :   Individuals from the various generations may perceive recognition differently. A Boomer or Generation X manager who has received minimal recognition throughout his or her career may not realize how important it is for their Millenial employees to receive frequent positive feedback.  In addition, a person who is task oriented and not relationship oriented may not instinctively understand the importance of providing positive feedback.  It’s important to be attune to the differences between your needs and the needs of others so you can adapt your style accordingly.
  3. Lack of Skill: Sometimes managers don’t provide recognition because they don’t know how to give effective positive feedback. Their comfort level can be easily increased with focused skill development and practice.

You will find that as the obstacles to providing positive feedback are overcome, you will see increased motivation, enhanced communication and improved productivity.

Alisa Blum & Associates provides organizational leaders, managers and supervisors, with the skills needed in today’s work environment to develop top employees.  Alisa can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com to discuss your specific needs.

What Makes a Diversity Training Program Successful?

Mixed group business people

I have had the privilege recently to collaborate with intercultural communication specialist, Lillian Tsai, to provide a training program, “Working Across Generations & Cultures”. This training has been very well received, particularly among people who have been unhappy with other diversity training programs.

Here are some reasons why I believe this program is having a positive impact:

  • We use a strengths-based approach to help participants appreciate the positive contributions they all bring to the workplace.
  • We emphasize the importance of understanding people based on a multitude of dimensions, both generational and cultural, so they get an understanding of the many factors that influence communication in the workplace.
  • We incorporate a number of interactive exercises and discussions that help participants break down barriers and deepen their connections with each other.
  • Participants are given the opportunity during the workshop to figure out how they can apply the techniques they have learned to resolve a current conflict at work.

Although many people have had negative experiences with diversity training, I know that there are a number of successful programs out there. I am interested in learning more about what others have found useful when helping people work effectively across differences.

The Boomer Exodus & Millenial Explosion: 5 Strategies to Successfully Manage this Generational Transition

Mixed group business people

We are in the midst of huge demographic changes. Boomers are reaching retirement age at record rates.  Millennials will soon be the largest generation in the workforce. Many organizations today have a small window in which to pass on essential knowledge and evolve into the type of organization that is conducive to hiring and keeping a younger generation of top talent.

Here are some strategies that will help your organization to successfully manage this transition:

  1. Have career development discussions. It is essential to find out when your older employees are thinking about retiring and garner suggestions about how to best pass on their knowledge.       Discussions with younger employees is also imperative, as  younger employees are much more likely to stay at their current job if they have opportunities for career development.
  2. Determine which of your employees have the skills, motivation and interest level required to fill positions vacated by your retirees.   It can be extremely useful to develop benchmarks for the positions being vacated so that you can assess which of your current employees are able to fill positions that will soon be vacated. Then, assess current employees who you think could be qualified for these positions.
  3. Develop mentoring programs. Older workers tend to be motivated by having opportunities to pass on their knowledge. Younger workers enjoy the career development opportunities they gain as mentees while also learning critical skills needed to prepare for advancement.
  4. Create flexible work schedules. Many older workers either don’t want to retire full time or cannot afford to retire full time. Organizations can reap the benefits of their experience by creating part-time, on-call or consultant opportunities. Flexible work schedules are a highly effective way to retain employees from all of the generations as this provides them with a greater ability to manage work and family responsibilities.
  5. Move toward a collaborative organizational culture. Younger employees typically desire a flatter, more collaborative organization. In order to keep top young talent, it will be imperative to identify changes that need to be made in your organization to successfully create a collaborative organizational culture.

By implementing these strategies, you can prevent the potential loss of critical knowledge during the Boomer exodus, and can make sure you have successors in place to ensure your organization will grow and thrive.

Alisa Blum & Associates provides customized training programs, assessments, consultations, coaching and conference presentations to help organizations successfully work across generations.  You may contact Alisa for a complimentary consultation at alisa@developtopemployees.com or (503) 481-7586.

© 2018, Alisa Blum, Alisa Blum & Associates, www.developtopemployees.com

How to Select High Quality Managers

Portrait of happy smiling businesswoman and colleagues on background, at office

Think about the best manager you have ever had. What impact did this manager have on your productivity? Now think back to the worst manager you have ever had. How did this manager impact your productivity?

According to the latest Gallup workplace research, productivity suffers greatly when employees are disengaged.   Gallup’s research has shown that a primary reason employees are disengaged is due to poor relationships with their managers. The financial impact is significant as poor management is estimated cost to U.S. organizations $450-$550 billion a year.

It is quite common to promote individuals with high technical skills into management positions even though management positions require very different skill sets. The next time you need to fill a management position, you will improve the odds of hiring a high quality manager by asking these questions:

  1. Who are my company’s top managers?
  2. What are the specific skills, interests and motivations that cause these managers to excel?
  3. Which of our current candidates share the skills, interests and motivations of our top managers?
  4. Are there additional qualities the management team needs at this time?

We can assist you to select high quality managers by providing assessments which determine the match between a candidates, skills, motivations and personality style with  your organization’s benchmarks, as well as with our Strengths Based Leadership program, which helps you understand your leadership team strengths and the strengths needed to maximize your leadership team.

Copyright 2018, Alisa Blum & Associates. All Rights Reserved.

Alisa Blum is a management and employee development specialist. She works with businesses and organization to develop top employees. You can schedule a complimentary consultation at:  503-481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

Take Vacation Time and Enhance Productivity at Work

Happy Romantic Couple Enjoying Beautiful Sunset at the Beach According to a survey by Glassdoor, “the average American employee only takes half of their earned paid time off, while 61% report they work while on vacation.”

We need to strongly consider the damaging effects this practice has on our physical and emotional well-being.  Numerous studies on brain functioning have found that we are much more productive and innovative when we take breaks.  In an article in the New York Times, essayist Tim Krieder wrote, “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.  He goes on to say that “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

When contemplating your next vacation, consider that this vacation will improve your brain functioning, and therefore, improve productivity when you return to work.  And if you are an employer, encourage your employees to take what may be a long overdue vacation and insist they turn off the electronic leash.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses and organizations develop top employees with programs that enhance motivation, productivity and retention. Alisa can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com to discuss your specific needs.