Team Mindfulness: A Discipline for Performance Beyond Fashion and Fad
Mindfulness – a way of paying attention with an attitude of open-hearted interest to what goes on with you, with others and in the world around you – has been around for at least 2,600 years. In recent years it has become a feature of contemporary culture – so much so to that it is in danger of being thought of either as a panacea or as merely a fad.
One reason why mindfulness work in organisations attracts criticism is that too all often it has been turned into a kind of sticking plaster. “A team is stressed or over-worked? Let’s bring in some mindfulness instruction – that should fix it.”
The current tendency to view mindfulness practice as a panacea raises a serious moral question. It is simply not good enough to teach people to regulate their own emotions when they work in an emotionally toxic environment that takes no account of their humanity, or when their organisations think of them simply as cogs in a machine.
It is time to put the hype around mindfulness aside and dig deeper.
There is a more rigorous form of mindful work that can be done in workplace contexts, one that is more attuned to the heritage and intent of the ancient practice. It is a discipline dedicated to helping create healthy, humane workplaces whose outputs serve genuine human needs and enhance the living systems on which life depends. As our contribution to that field, we offer an approach to team working that we call Team Mindfulness.
The team is, after all, the primary working unit in most organisations. Just about everybody works in a team. And what happens in that team powerfully shapes outcomes at work. When teams are diverse, supportive, open and engaged – where they are felt to be psychologically safe – there is a much higher chance that outputs will correspondingly improve.