I was reading an interview with a consultant brought in to companies to help employees chill and focus. However, she didn't use those words. She said stuff like "mindful walking" and "The present moment is here. It's here in front of us. It is what it is" and "beholding whatever is in front of them." While you might have thought I had fat-thumbed my way into an inadvertent Tony Robbins or dusty old Werner Erhard video, this was allegedly a serious professional from a serious consultancy hired by serious companies. Seriously?
While I am no "New Age" Luddite, I have been to a few company-sponsored outings run by consultants and designed to somehow make me -- and the poor unwilling souls collected with me -- better employees by becoming more "sensitive," "aware," "trusting," or "present in the moment" (whatever in the hell that is.)
It is a mystery to me how any right-thinking CEO gets conned into hosting such time-wasters by human resource "professionals" who might better spend their time figuring out how to attract more minorities into the advertising/marketing/technology industries.
The "technology" of this “contemplative mind" hoo-ha has evolved over the years from rope-pulling contents to falling backwards into the arms of your co-workers, from game playing to reflective listening to the now decidedly squishy notions of "bringing your awareness to the sensation" and "seeing the present moment as it is and not bringing prejudgment to it." But the end result is still a momentary awareness that fades just as quickly as the resolutions made at the end of reading self-help books.
Following the conclusion of the "experience," those touched by newfound awareness fire off glowing evaluations exclaiming their "born-again" status. But hardly anybody bothers to follow up to see if the enlightenment survives even six months of being back in the salt mines. This is not to say that a blind pig doesn't occasionally step on an acorn (thanks, Dad) and that a minuscule percentage of those who get such "training" don't somehow become better people or co-workers or managers. But I would hate to be the person tasked with calculating the ROI of such events (unless they are served up simply to fulfill some vague corporate or federal mandate for "training.").
What does produce better employees? Letting dogs come to work? Ping-pong? Free food? Yoga classes? Use the comments box: What works (or doesn't) for your company? For my company, it is stopping this column right now and going to the gym.