We all know that being in FLOW either in your career or work feels great. You are focused. You love what you do and you feel energized. Time flows past quickly and whatever you are doing seems easy and natural. Work does not feel like work.
So is being in the flow a luxury? Is this a bonus you may or may not be lucky enough to achieve while you get on with building your career?
And are employees being in flow something corporate managers should be paying attention to? Like happiness or well-being, is flow a nice to have in the office, or an absolute key indicator worth tracking and focusing on for business success?
Here are 5 reasons why Flow is a game changer and should be at the center of how individuals and companies manage themselves and their teams.
People in flow are more productive.
One of the key distinctions to being in flow is that you perform those roles you are good at. They come naturally. You enjoy them. You are energized when you perform them. This needs to be contrasted against when you are doing something you are good at, but do not love. In other words, you may be good at many things, but not everything that you are good at will get you into Flow.
Productivity has been shown to increase significantly when you are operating from flow. Being in this state increases focus enables you to engage at maximum productivity levels for significantly longer periods of time. You stay focused on those tasks where you offer the greatest value. The key idea is even if you are good at something if it is not something you love and which inspires you, you will not experience the same degree of productivity.
One aspect of Flow that makes it easy to grasp and understand, is that at one time or another you are likely to have experienced what it feels like. Flow is not just some abstract idea – it is an experience, a feeling you have experienced and can remember. It may be something you engage with on a regular basis. You will know that in those times when you are in flow, your brain operates at high levels of efficiency and creativity. When in Flow you are significantly more likely to have new and innovative ideas – and bring those to your business.
Health and Well-being
Flow is a positive emotional state. In flow you feel confident, happy, motivated and inspired. These positive emotional and mental states have a direct impact on wellness and health. Stress is reduced, there is an increase in immune function and improved overall physical health. Being in flow increases energy, enabling better exercise and healthier sleep.
Flow, therefore, has an upward cyclical impact on health and well-being. The more you are in flow, the greater your internal resources for a feeling of wellness. The more you experience health and well-being, the more time you spend in flow and positive emotional states. There are strong proven links between positive emotional states, well being and productivity in the workplace.
As an Executive Team Coach, focusing on getting individuals and teams into Flow has become my first priority with all my clients. Over the last decade, the coaching industry has grown rapidly in the Global corporate market, and rightly so. It has shown to have the most direct return on investment for organizational development and consulting spend.
However, one of the challenges businesses face is to make the impacts of coaching or training sustainable. Often initiatives for increasing team cohesion, alignment and productivity have short-term results that then fall back to the previous ‘norm’ after a short period of time. I have found that focusing on Flow reverses this trend, with results often increase over time.
This is because Flow often operates in a positive reinforcement cycle – the more you are in flow and understand the principles of flow, the easier it becomes to create more flow and support others into flow.
Catalyzing Team Performance
At the heart of Flow is the idea that you cannot get yourself into Flow. To be in flow requires you focus on the roles where you add the most value, and pass that value on to someone else who can use it to do what they do best and where they add the most value. Flow is, therefore, the passing of value between people.
The principle within a team is, “I need you so that I can get into Flow, and you need me so that you can get into Flow.” When teams really grasp this idea and are clear about how each member can support the others into Flow – and avoid blocking flow for each other – then the overall productivity of the team increases beyond just the combined value of their individual productivity gain. A team in flow becomes a high-performance team.