Establishing Flow in the Workplace


How do you engage and assign tasks to your team? How do you maintain flow in the workplace?
Striking the right balance when getting things done is crucial to achieve successful results and to also foster long-term growth. Many leaders may have that "go-to" person on staff they can always count on to get the job done, but going to the same person again and again is usually not the answer.

While senior managers certainly want to utilize the talents of their most accomplished employees to their full potential, "tapping out" the energy of the same employees while not fully engaging the abilities of others is not the right solution for leaders who not only want to get the job done, but who also want to foster growth for the future.

In a recent Fast Company article, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience is referenced as a resource for finding balance in the workplace:

"[Csikszentmihalyi] uses the term "flow" to describe the mental state where a person is fully immersed in an activity, performing at his or her best, and feeling energized throughout the process."

In the book, Csikszentmihalyi outlines one of the key steps to achieving flow: finding the perfect balance between challenge and skill on one axis and anxiety versus boredom on the other.

This is an important balance to keep in mind when leading teams. Depending on where an employee is in his or her career, and also depending on how long he or she has been in the current role or workplace, levels of anxiety versus boredom will change. Mangers must be conscious of these concerns when assigning tasks to their teams.

Let's face it. In our networked, tweeted, media-saturated, deadline-driven lives, finding flow is not an easy feat for any of us. Finding flow while also leading the flow of authors is an especially overwhelming undertaking.

But there are three ways leaders can instill a healthy dose of flow into the company, and thus achieve greater results:

Become aware of your habits.
Take a step back. Make everyone on the team a go-to person by having conversations and identifying strengths. Assign challenging, but routine tasks that can be completed without your intervention.

Focus on long and short term goals.
Don't overly rely on the same employees for quick completion, but keep an eye on the long term by striking a balance between organizational effectiveness and employee development.

Create variety.
Allow reflection and action to coexist. Balancing task assigning requires both foresight and discipline. Variety stimulates engagement and also instills a "bigger picture" in employee thought, allowing employees to better connect the dots and understand how tasks are connected, and ultimately how the company is unified.

What are your tips for maintaing flow?

Read more about establishing flow in the worksplace at Fast Company.

This article was written by Joe Chappell from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).
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About the author

This article was written by Joe Chappell, Managing Director, Global Marketing at the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

About the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants

Since 1959, the AESC has set the standard for quality and ethics in executive search and leadership consulting worldwide. Because AESC members must commit and adhere to the AESC's industry and government recognized Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines, clients can be assured that AESC members are able to serve as trusted advisors for their most important engagements. As the voice for executive search and leadership consulting worldwide, today the AESC is comprised of more than 350 member firms, representing 8,000 executive search professionals in 75 countries. To learn more about the AESC and its membership, visit www.aesc.org.


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