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by Nicole Jenney on March 21, 2019
Flow is defined as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” It is commonly used to describe situations where an individual is performing above their normal level. Sometimes it’s referred to as “being in the zone.”

The 8 Characteristics of Flow
By psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
  1. Complete concentration on the task
  2. Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback
  3. Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
  4. The experience is intrinsically rewarding
  5. Effortlessness and ease
  6. There is a balance between challenge and skills
  7. Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination
  8. There is a feeling of control over the task

Help Your Employees Find Their Flow
  • If an employee's skill set is not in line with the job requirements, they aren't likely to find their flow. They will likely avoid important tasks at hand in favor of work they enjoy, are good at and find challenging. Make sure you are hiring the "right fit" for your company's and employees sake so productivity is at it's peak. You don't necessarily have to let them go. Take notice when they are in a state of flow. 
  • Have a conversation. Ask your employees what they find most fun and challenging about their work or better yet, what aspects of their work could best be done by someone with that skill set. (Yes, I know, the not so fun stuff still has to get done.)
  • Are you setting your team up for success? There are three conditions to achieve flow, according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
  1. Goals are clear
  2. Feedback is immediate
  3. There's a balance between opportunity and capacity
Don’t Flow Alone…
Researchers from St. Bonaventure University asked students to participate in activities that would induce flow either in a team or by themselves. Students rated flow to be more enjoyable when in a team rather than when they were alone. Students also found it more joyful if the team members were able to talk to one another. This finding was replicated even when skill level and challenge were equal.A final study found that being in an interdependent group whilst in flow is more enjoyable than one that is not. So, if you want to get more enjoyment out of an experience of flow, try engaging in activities together. This beautifully echoes Christopher Peterson’s conclusion that positive psychology can be summed up in three words: "Other People Matter!"
Take you team out -or bring a mobile team builder in for a few hours - to connect with each other on a more personal level and have them participate in an activity that helps them practice getting into a state of flow. Most art or craft based activities engage all people with various skill sets when partially guided and then left for free-flowing abstract creativity. "When I host team builders," says Donna of Laugh A Lot Art Events, there's a lot of excitement, banter and giggling at first, and then suddenly silence, as individuals find themselves fully immersed. That's the flow state!" It's a good way for your staff to have fun, relax AND discover that feeling of flow so, they can bring that feeling and put it to practice back at the office. "You have to experience it to recognize it."

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