The New Year brings with it both an increase in retail traffic, as well as additional demands on your team. For customer-facing professionals, the need to continually adapt and manage their emotions to display “service with a smile” can be additional stress in the light of a crowded store and sometimes unpleasant customer behavior. As such, it’s a good time to remind your teams to look after their bodies and minds. If they don’t, they may become sick, and good team members aren’t so easy to replace. As much as they may like to think they’re indestructible, they’re also human.
Engaging in applied mindfulness techniques to improve the mind, body and emotional health through focusing your awareness (it’s not just yoga, meditation and breathing) can have a positive impact on performance with the bonus that it benefits those around too!
Here are five simple ways you can jump-start January for yourself, your department and your teams:
1. Try a “modern learning” audit to find out. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where is your department heading in three years, and what opportunities are available to learn and develop to meet those changes?
- Are those opportunities available “on demand” or “free”? And can they be discussed during the next team training day?
2. Keep on track with mindful succession planning. For this type of planning, think about the following questions and statements:
- Identify future opportunities that may come up in your organization.
- List the skills needed for the role now and what the role may become in the future, identifying any areas of change (e.g., will the job grow from leading a small team to a large or remote team?).
- List who you would consider for any promotions, and outline the reasons why.
- Remember to include a “dark side” audit for their skills, which includes behaviors you’ve observed as well as speculative points.
- Consider how these behaviors may affect employee performance as the organization evolves.
- Identify how employees might grow and develop, and how you can support and mentor their progress.
3. Encourage your team to think about their own priorities. To get your team to start thinking about their own priorities, try the following exercise: Create a chart with categories that may be important to your team members, such as family, friendships/community, spiritual outlook, physical health, material possessions, etc. Then, have the team fill out the chart by indicating how important each category is to them, and the amount of time they’re currently devoting to each category. The chart can give you and your team members clear insights into where their time is being spent and if it’s being spent on things that really matter to them.
4. As a general practice for the new year, try a little gratitude. A new year often makes people think about what they haven’t achieved yet or perhaps set some goals for the year that they’re not convinced they will complete. Rather than focus on the “should,’ “could” or “might have been,” focus on gratitude. Thinking this way will help you appreciate the here and now, as well as how far you’ve already come. Looking honestly at yourself and identifying your aims as well as thinking about how far you’ve come is a great starting point to make the most effective and efficient changes.
5. Remind your team of the importance of self-care. Self-care is extremely important to a person’s well-being. As such, make sure your team does the following:
- Take breaks to go to the bathroom and hydrate as needed.
- Stand up or move around every hour (or conversely, take a moment to sit), and turn off all electronic devices for a set time.
- Experience the benefits of going out for lunch or at least getting away from their workstations.
- Include items that promote mindful moments including photos, cartoons and quotes near their workstation if applicable.
- Listen to mindful or soothing music (if possible).
A holistically happy and healthy team is one that better overcomes challenges and offers performance excellence long term.
Dr. Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author of “The Leader’s Guide to Mindfulness.”