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How Leaders Use Mindfulness to Improve Performance

When you work in an organization and your boss manages 100 people, it's easy to feel critical when you don't agree with her actions. Then, you start to think about the amount of pressure that she's under, and you realize that she makes the best decisions that she can. She's usually working without all the facts. You might not like how she handles a situation, but you have to move on. We've all been in difficult scenarios with a boss, and they should remind us what kind of boss we want to be.

The Servant Leader Attitude

I believe this: When we are mindful of our words and actions, we can have better interactions with other people regardless of our role as boss or subordinate. A boss cannot possibly have the same pulse on the organization as subordinates who have daily interactions with co-workers. When I consider how leaders use mindfulness, it should be to help themselves maintain a good mood so they can be effective servant leaders. These leaders are committed to serving others and to inspiring employees to be their best. Leaders are only as successful as the people working under them. If you're a boss and you feel calm and positive, then you will succeed in giving better performance advice to subordinates. In this post, I consider how mindfulness helps with correcting performance problems:

Pointing Out Performance Problems

When you notice a pattern of unacceptable behavior or when an employee does something in direct violation of the company's behavioral norms, there's the need for a conversation. You will have to put the employee on notice about her problem behavior. You must assign at least one consequence and inform the employee what will happen if it happens again. It's important to realize here that your role as the boss greatly influences an employee's livelihood, especially when it comes to providing for a family. Good leaders know they should put themselves in the right frame of mind for this conversation and avoid having it until they can give it their full attention. Sitting in your office with the door closed and doing a five-minute meditation will calm you and help you to eliminate distractions. Remember, when the employee comes into the meeting, she will quickly get the idea that she's in trouble. She may not want to disappoint you, but she's going to have to get through the session without breaking down. The calmer that you can be throughout this meeting, the easier it will be for her to keep her dignity and to receive your corrective feedback.

Having the Conversation

When an employee comes into the meeting to get corrective feedback, she may be unaware, but she quickly gets the idea that the subject is not how she did good work. She may not wish to disappoint you, but she's going to have to get through the session without breaking down. It's hard for us to take criticism even if it will make us better people. The calmer that you can be throughout this kind of meeting, the easier it will be for her to maintain her demeanor and to understand corrective feedback. Be sure to start the meeting with a clear statement of your purpose. Define the behavior that needs correction. Explain any changes that you expect to see. Give the employee an opportunity to respond to this information and perhaps to explore why the behavior occurred. Some employees will not want to go through this level of analysis. They will want to escape with their consequences as soon as possible.

Build Positive Vibes for the Future

Correcting employee behavior can immediately change the workplace climate. It can make an employee feel criticized and uncertain of his position within the organization. It can affect his relationships with co-workers and possibly induce him to make negative comments about you when you aren't present. This employee still needs your support if he will keep working for you. Give him a chance to process your corrective feedback, but stay aware of how he conducts himself after the meeting. When you must see the employee again, you will want to feel calm and to make signals that the relationship between you both is moving forward. You will want to avoid immediately reacting to this employee until the situation passes. The more that you initiate contact with an employee whom you have corrected, the greater the potential for a conflict. If you give him some space, then he will have time to adjust his behavior and to continue doing his job.

Good leaders also resist the urge to conduct a series of corrective feedback sessions in a single day because this is not good for the team's morale.

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