Organisational psychologist Adam Grant captured the global mood earlier this year with his New York Times article on languishing and more recently his TED talk on how to escape the languishing void by finding flow. Languishing is that state of ‘meh’…not much to look forward to, a sense of monotony, not depressed but far from flourishing. And so bloody bored! Of greatest concern is the link to depression.
Sounds familiar? Surprise, surprise you’re not alone. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, two-thirds of us feel our life satisfaction worsened this year. Fraying relationships seem to be a big driver (or consequence) with more than 1 in 4 saying their relationships have become more difficult/strained. That does not bode well for team engagement and productivity, which is already weighing under the strain of constant homeschooling interruptions.
I don’t know about you, but it feels like we’re scraping through with the end tantalisingly in sight. We’re desperate to leave our 5 km bubble and see friends and family we’ve not seen for months. Or to get face-to-face with the team again and work on the big stuff! As much as video conferencing platforms have revolutionised the way we work, coming together to create and problem solve is so much easier when fuelled by the energy that warm bodies in a room create. Not to mention the elimination of constant kid distractions.
I reckon the return to the office after this extended lockdown is a precious opportunity for team leaders to reinvigorate their people, and their commitment to each other and the business. Inspiring a shift from languishing to flourishing is one way to approach that challenge. In this tight talent market, it’s also about risk management. Losing your best people who are craving a fresh start is a key risk.
Adam Grant’s flow model is a nice place to start. Inspired by hours of playing Mario Cart with the kids during lockdown, Grant’s flow model to escape languishing comprises three elements – mastery, mindfulness and mattering. Here’s how I reckon that can apply to teams to quickly shift gears:
Mastery: Mastery is not just about being good at something, it’s also about feeling a sense of progress and joy. Working together to define each others’ Zone of Genius and explore how you can operate from that place more often is a great way to discover your mastery and feel the uplift in energy that results.
Mindfulness: Simply put, mindfulness is attention management with the goal of connecting to what is AKA presence. I’ve worked with dozens of teams using the above / below the line framework to connect them to presence with a dramatic impact on relational connection and performance.
Mattering: I did some lovely work this year on team charters, which serve to codify mattering beyond just purpose. They act like a social contract defining team commitments aimed at bringing our best self to the team to bring out the best in each other and smash performance targets.
What are you planning for your team when we can all get face to face?