Take a moment to think of the best leader and manager you’ve ever worked for. What was it about them you liked so much? Their cool head in the face of stress, maybe, or their approachability? Maybe they did something above and beyond for you when you needed extra support. Whatever it was, it left a mark on your that remains to this day.
Whatever it was that made this leader so memorable, their good qualities likely stemmed from mindfulness. Present and non-judgmental leadership leads to positive employee experience. But what does that mean, specifically? How does mindfulness improve leadership and what impact does that have on employee experience? Should these things even matter?
The short answer is yes, of course, these things matter! But let’s take a deeper look at why.
What Is Employee Experience?
Employee experience is deceptively complex to define. Everything your employee does from undergoing the application process to the day they leave the job accumulates into what we call “employee experience.” And their opinions of that organization, good or bad, is a reflection of that experience.
Naturally, you want your employees to have positive experiences at work. A positive employee experience means they will stick around longer, work harder, and be more likely to recommend the company to others.
The specifics of what makes up employee experience come in many forms. Job training, interactions with employers, interactions with other employees, the quality of the work environment and the tools used at work are just a few examples.
But experience can run even deeper. The experiences an employee had in previous environments can affect their experiences in future ones. If, for example, an employee’s last job was in a toxic environment with an abusive manager, they’ll likely be less engaged and more timid in a new environment, expecting the same treatment.
That is why mindful leadership is so vital. Leaders and managers have the ability to influence employee experience. It’s like the old saying goes: People don’t leave jobs. They leave managers.
What Is Mindful Leadership?
Contrary to employee experience, mindful leadership is precisely what it sounds like: being present and aware while managing and leading employees. Mindful leaders keep their ears, hearts, and minds open for all possible conversations and experiences. They don’t make emotionally-driven decisions. They listen more than they talk. And they lead with empathy.
A mindful leader is more likely to notice when things seem a little “off” with an employee. They’re able to get to the bottom of the sudden behavior change and, most importantly, they are able to support their employee through that challenge. If an employee is suddenly missing deadlines because they’re nursing a sick spouse at home, a mindful manager will help them find a balance between their home and work. Allowing the employee to work from home, for example, might be helpful, or simply granting them some much-needed time off to care for their spouse and themselves.
It might feel like value lost in the short-term but when the trouble has passed and that employee returns, they’ll not only be more productive, they’ll be that much more appreciative and dedicated to the organization that was so compassionate to them in a time of need.
Ways To Cultivate Mindful Leadership
Cultivating a mindful leadership style isn’t something that will happen overnight. Mindfulness is a skill that’s easy to learn but difficult to master. The good news is that any mindfulness practice can positively benefit your leadership skills. Meditating first thing in the morning will make you a more mindful manager and leader. Learning and practicing active listening will make you more mindful.
The Fabulous app also has plenty of activities that can increase your mindfulness. Any number of Fabulous’s challenges, like the Letting Go Challenge or Practice Gratitude Challenge, are good ways to keep you actively engaging with the practice without getting bored. You can also listen to one of many Make Me Fabulous coaching sessions, like Shape Your Mind or The Compassion Meditation.
The easiest way to practice mindfulness, however, is to simply observe. Observe whatever environment you’re in and take note of things without judging them. Put all of your focus into observing, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.
Mindfulness is a skill that spills into every aspect of your life. When you are mindful at home, you’ll be more mindful at work, and vice versa. Your mindful behaviors can also affect other people, making them feel calmer and more present themselves. Lead with kindness and awareness and watch as your employees also suddenly become more kind, more aware, and ultimately, more productive.