Managing the Distracted Worker

Linda Dulye's picture

Workers today have lots on their mind: the economy, their job security and concerns on the home front. In the workplace there are plenty of distractions, too, many of them of the digital variety: phone calls, email, voicemail, text messages, IM, you name it.

The good news is that managers can break through this clutter and keep their teams focused.

  • Clear the digital clutter. Improve your chances of sharing a message successfully by making staff meetings BlackBerry-, cell phone- and pager-free zones.
  • Keep it simple. It would be nice to think that employees drop everything, clear their minds and give our email, hallway chat, phone call 100 percent of their attention. But they won’t. That’s why we need to keep our communications crisp, simple and actionable.
  • Reinforce. Take a few seconds to send a follow-up email about that conversation. Do it in a way that reinforces or builds on what you discussed.

Finally, set the example. If you’re talking with a team member, don’t glance down at your BlackBerry to check an incoming message, don’t answer your office phone. When employees and colleagues see that you give them your undivided attention, they’ll begin to do the same.


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