“How do we reach this younger generation who are so agitated and distracted?” The questioner went on to state, “They are on their smartphones at work all the time. This could create errors on the job.”
Can you sense the frustration in both the question and the statements? However, this isn’t only about Millennials. Workers in their 40’s and higher can be found multitasking at work. It isn’t only about technology. Baby boomers had other distractions and concerns prior to the era of the digital age.
Our challenge today is more about a lack of connecting with others. We often talk past each other in person, if we bother to say anything at all, but allow every thought to come out via social media or text messaging. Often it is in the form of a one-way venting session. The recipient of the diatribe now reacts by his or her own one-way venting session.
So how can we help alleviate the questioner’s frustration with distracted employees? Here are three steps to get started.
1. Hire right. Make sure the person you are considering has a good attitude and possesses values like the values of the organization. Having great functional skills with a bad attitude is a formula for failure. We see that in professional sports quite often. A person with the right attitude and is a good cultural fit can be trained to get the job done. A person with a good attitude is teachable and approachable.
2. Be intentional about setting the right cultural climate. Make connections with your teams. Consider these suggestions from John Maxwell and others.
a. Connect on common ground. It’s difficult to find common ground with others when the only person you’re focused on is yourself. Covey wrote, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
b. Do the difficult work of keeping it simple. The measure of a great teacher isn’t what he or she knows; it’s what the students know. In the end, people are persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand.
c. Create an experience everyone enjoys. In general, there are no bad audiences; only bad speakers. Link what you say with what people need.
d. Inspire people. People will not always remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Jobs said, “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”
e. Live what you communicate. You are your message. Credibility is currency for leaders and communicators. With it, they are solvent; without it, they are bankrupt. As time goes by, the way people live outweighs the words they use.
3. Use performance management. A micromanager is someone trying to personally control and monitor everything in a team, situation, or place. The consequences can be devastating and demoralizing. Instead, give them the assignment, set expectations, be available for help, and reward their performance. I am not a fan of multitasking. However, if an employee can consistently get the job done while multitasking, let them do it their way. Disclaimer: some roles require strict attention that cannot be compromised. “Remember, the fastest way to lose talent is to micromanage it.” – Jeff Boss
If we can connect with employees (really connect with them), they would be more apt to hear what we have to say because we have heard what they had to say. This could reduce agitation and distractions. What additional tips would you add to the list? We would love to hear from you.
To receive more tips or leadership and personal development training, please contact us. At Apogee, we work with entities to strengthen their pipeline of leaders. We specialize in helping others lead through change. We welcome the opportunity to help you grow your team and/or you in the areas of leadership and personal growth.