mind your business: How to Manage Distracted Employees
As all managers know, workday distractions are everywhere, stealing your employees' precious time and productivity. Between new technologies that beg for people's attention to the prevalence of shortened attention spans, everyone on your team has the opportunity to be more distracted today than in the past. Of course, being distracted at work creates numerous problems from missed opportunities to strained business relationships. Therefore, you need to effectively manage your employees so their distractions are minimized.
First, realize that there are two categories of distraction. One is internal distraction, and the other is external distraction. Internal distractions include any physiological, emotional, attitudinal, biological or physical discomfort. Some examples include having an upset stomach or a headache, worrying about a personal or professional matter, feeling overwhelmed with tasks, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, experiencing anger toward a co-worker, grieving a loss, etc. Any of these things can quickly take an employee off track from his or her tasks.
External distractions include other people and technology. Some examples include co-workers who stop by someone's office to chat, social media and text alerts ringing on a smartphone, email notifications popping up on a computer screen, other employees who talk loudly in the office, etc. These seemingly innocuous items easily divert people's attention.
The real challenge is that most employees aren't experiencing just one or two of these distractions. They're facing multiple each day. On top of all the internal and external distractions, organizational structures have changed over the years, packing in more duties and responsibilities to every job description. That means your employees today have to spread their attention thin just to complete their expected workload. With all of these factors, it's no wonder so many people feel distracted at work.
Fortunately, most distractions can be eliminated from the workplace if you take the time to manage them. Here's how: