Distraction Can Create Dramatic Impact on Production

You have a strategic plan in place, a business plan created and a budget for implementing the prioritized actions. You are all set move your practice to the next level and have all your key people starting on the “same page.” Nothing it seems can prevent you from reaching your goals, whether you are a partner or a human resources manager, or any other staff level.

Another typical situation is you participate in a strategic retreat or an offsite workshop. You pick up great ideas and are psyched about sharing them with your other partners first thing Monday morning.

So then what happens?

Every day, every hour, or for some, every minute, an email comes through requiring you to put out another fire, or an angry client calls and needs a verbal massage, or your executive assistant calls to inform you he or she has the flu, or your IT director informs you that the client portal platform had intermittent downtime over the weekend and some of the information updates did not go through, or maybe one of hundreds of other annoying or critically important matters arose.

Workplace distractions are unavoidable. Some cannot be ignored but these are a small percentage; most of them are interruptions on an hourly basis that we feel compelled to address even though we are working on a major firm or organization project or client.

Multiply this by an eight or nine-hour day and you have spent a large portion of your day in the “one step forward, two steps back” dynamic.

This situation has become the normal operating process. It shakes up a lot of people who do not have a handle on prioritizing work or do not know how to maintain a consistent level of productivity. With all the electronic chains we have, immediate acknowledgement is expected. As a leader, have you defined for your staff the meaning of productivity? I am talking about not having prowess with tech tools, platforms or systems. I am talking about the human process and the environment of expectations you have created.

What is the impact on your business or practice? What is the personal and professional impact on your employees? This is a whole new workplace and demands will increase. And there is nothing to do but anticipate demands and make timely adjustments. But it all begins with your people. They need to go through a self-improvement process and be trained to plow through distractions and recognize the distinction between the “must do” from the “these can wait” situations.

So the network is down. Big deal. We still have phones. We still have conference rooms. We still have pens and paper. Encourage your people to be flexibly wired; upgrade their mental software so that they can thrive in today’s productivity-oriented, do-more-with-less environment.

There are ways to maintain and improve productivity, ranging from office layout to scheduled “thinking time.” Everything is not equally important. Train your people in ways to optimize their mental and physical energy.

Something as simple as shutting off your phone and going for a short walk to regenerate can do wonders and it really costs nothing — but can yield enormous benefits.