Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has spent much of his life researching ‘flow’ – that state of being when you become fully immersed in a task and time flies by. This flow state can only occur when the level of challenge is carefully matched to your level of skills and confidence. Flow is most likely to occur when you are faced by a demanding but achieveable task. Flow matters for managers because it a state that is associated with optimal performance. It is also closely associated with learning and self improvement.
It strikes me that delegation used in conjunction with feedback (another pre-requisite for the flow state) and coaching provides managers with the perfect tools to ensure that team members get a balance of skill and challenge that will enable them to enter the optimum state of flow at work.
Employees who are operating outside of the flow channel – either bored or overly anxious are likely to be performing well below their potential.
The thing about the flow channel is that you cannot remain stationery. Unless you are confronted with new challenges it is likely that boredom will become an issue and performance will dip.