Upgrade Your Environment

Two mindful business advisors answer your workplace questions.

Rawpixel.com/Dollar Photo Club
  • Scenario: Considering leaving a promising career in corporate America in search of a more mindful environment. Where to begin?
  • Categorize under: Career planning
  • Advisor: Janice Marturano

First, let’s explore what a “mindful environment” might mean.

If you are a meditator and seek an environment that’s a bit more supportive of such a practice, I recommend talking to your current employer about it. You may be surprised. If you are leaving for certain, make sure to ask other potential employers about their wellness and mindfulness programs.

Searching for a perfect work environment will leave you searching forever.

If your values and passion don’t align with the work you’re currently doing or your organization, spend some time looking into this question. Then you can base your job search on what your reflections (or counsel from trusted advisors) reveal. That way you won’t find yourself back in the same unsatisfying situation.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that mindfulness is about learning to meet your life—just as it is—with clarity and equanimity. Moving around in search of a perfect work environment—one with no challenges—would be a very long search indeed. So applying mindfulness in your current workplace can be a great way to test both yourself and your environment. Ask yourself: Is there more growing I could do in this setting? Is what I’m doing aligned with my deep values? If so, how can I bring more mindfulness to work with me? And if not, where is it best for me to look next? Don’t forget, too, to enjoy all the steps on the journey!

Janice Marturano of the Institute for Mindful Leadership is the author of Finding the Space to Lead.

  • Scenario: Dealing with colleagues who are not pulling their weight, which puts stress on other members of the team.
  • Categorize under: Increasing engagement
  • Advisor: Michael Carroll

One way to tackle this is to do a quick “environmental scan” of your workplace, honestly assessing the lay of the land. This is a way to place “careless colleagues” into a wider and healthier team context, making it more likely that you can skillfully and candidly request commitment from those who are not pulling their weight. Here’s how to begin:

1. Assess how much you can rely on each member of your team.

2. Slot them into one of these categories:

  • Green: always reliable
  • Yellow: sometimes reliable
  • Red: persistently unreliable

3. Appreciate the Green: With these colleagues, you know what you’re getting in the way of skills and engagement. You don’t have to explain to them what they need to do. Note to self: Don’t take your reliable colleagues for granted—openly appreciate and build alliances with them. Get to know them, reciprocate, give credit where credit is due.

4. Examine the Yellow: These colleagues are trying to be reliable, so offer to provide additional guidance and lend a hand. You’re looking for a level of engagement here, not necessarily a perfect set of skills. Note to self: Some people don’t know how to ask for help, so make it easier for them by reaching out. People want to grow and learn, and these are the colleagues you want to encourage into the green zone.

5. Invite the Red to commit: If just a few colleagues are floundering, address what challenges they may be having and get them involved at a level they’re comfortable with. (Challenging them to raise their game may come later.) You’ll need to take the utmost care in gauging strengths and playing to them. Candid conversations will be required. Note to self: If more than a couple of colleagues are floundering, this may indicate a more systemic problem in your organization, so look beyond employee performance.

Michael Carroll is the author of Fearless at Work.

This article also appeared in the October 2013 issue of Mindful magazine.

Subscribe to support Mindful.