Occupational stress increases the risk of anxiety and depression. Like most affective states, anxiety is not something that is intrinsically negative. However, a low baseline of anxiety is adaptive and efficient.
Here are a few definitions that will be useful to remember:
Burnout is a chronic state of emotional and physical depletion that is tightly connected to emotional exhaustion emerging from excessive job demands. Emotional exhaustion limits the creativity of managers.
Cynicism is the negative interpretation of organisational actions and decisions. Cynical employees are disillusioned, frustrated and distrustful of the organization. Cynicism can be cancerous to the organisation propagating a toxic set of thinking patterns.
Psychological resources allow us to effectively pursue goals and respond to challenges by finding new paths. The psychological resources of a manager directly influences the psychological resources of the team as a whole.
The mindful manager has a high awareness of the subtle psychological resource exchange. They share resources effectively and efficiently to improve downstream organisational performance. Most of their success is attributable to the positive, productive work environments they maintain. Companies with mindful managers will be more profitable in the long term.
Improving management performance is the most important question in organisational psychology. Mindfulness practice positively impacts memory, creativity, concentration and motivation. Improving manager performance by giving them greater control over their autonomic systems.
One may begin improving mindfulness through practice. Mindfulness is a specific type of cognitive training that improves the functioning of the prefrontal cortex.
A group is randomly assigned to five days of mindfulness practice showed far better attention and stress management than a control given basic relaxation training. Most people think of relaxation first and foremost in relation to mindfulness, but this confirms that mindfulness produces benefits beyond simple relaxation.
In another study a group took three months of mental training while a control group on a waiting list received no training. Both groups were tested on attention using the attentional blink test; both groups performed equally before training. The group that received mindfulness training performed significantly better in the follow up test due to improvements in their executive attention network.
Mindfulness is just one tool in the stress management toolkit. Ultimately, creating a culture of organisational mindfulness will have a greater impact than the sum of individual mindfulness practice. We learn socially and a culture of organisational mindfulness allows everyone to model the behaviour of mindful managers.
organisational mindfulness performance indicators:
Attention is a bottleneck in many organisations and executives are looking for new ways to help increase the attentional capacity of their workforce. Mindfulness is very effective at improving the well-being and performance of managers. The intensely competitive commercial environment demands long hours from middle managers and their staff exposing teams to exhaustion, stress and burnout.
When work is extended over longer periods of time, the work itself can be experienced as more intensely stressful even if the content hasn’t changed. As technology explodes, we find it more difficult to find a reasonable balance between home and work.
When managers are aware of what is happening in real time, they are able to keep their attention on what is important and act with contextual awareness.
A good way to better understand mindfulness is to understand thoughtlessness.
- not paying attention to the present work,
- unaware of their personal affective experience,
- unaware of the affective experience of others,
- performing tasks on autopilot,
- ruminating about the past or,
- daydreaming about the future.
Mindful managers are more objective about their experiences, seeing reality in contextual detail instead of reacting to low resolution map. The organisation’s only sense organ is the networked mental maps of its employees. As organisational mindfulness increases, so does the resolution of the organisational map. This improves decision-making at all levels of the organisation.
Through observation and contextual data categorisation, mindful managers increase organisational intelligence; the ability to accurately anticipate threats and opportunities in a complex environment.
Organisational mindfulness operates on four levels of analysis:
1. Proactive failure planning.
3. Learner’s response to setbacks.
4. Decision-making based on earned responsibility.
Attention to Complexity
Mindfulness practice is most effective in roles that demand knowledge-intensive, abstract and complex work. By better understanding the nature of their own attention, mindful managers understand their coworker’s attentional limits. When colleagues mutually respect one another’s limited attentional resources there is a reduction in interpersonal conflict.
Creativity is critical to all aspects of life, it adds colour to the things that we do. Although true individual creativity is rare, it is possible to create an environment where creative ideas are more likely to emerge. Alternative hunting is a way to develop collaborative creativity.
Positive affect increase creative fluency through the SEEKing network improving cognitive flexibility and facilitating more diverse connections between ideas. Instead of using effort to control thoughts, adaptive mindfulness is designed to facilitate the achievement of a meditative state. Adaptive mindfulness emphasises achieving ideal neural states by entraining the mind to influence the body.