Leadership: Managing Digital Distractions

One of the traits of a good leader is the ability to demonstrate individualized consideration for staff. Individualized consideration references the ability to treat and understand each employee as an individual. Putting this into practical terms, it means knowing employee strengths and weaknesses, how to challenge them on a personal level, and giving your undivided attention when interacting with them.

Now put this idea into your typical day. There will be lots going on — time constraints, multiple meetings scheduled back to back, demands on your time to make decisions etc. – you know the groove. People don’t meet for the sake of meeting (I hope). There must be some task at hand: project planning, issue resolution, budget, staffing etc.. and you are in attendance for a reason.

Reflection: In todays world we have many electronic communication tools that we use to support our work tasks. How do you manage these tools when you are with other staff?

  • Do you have the ability to focus on the task at hand and give your undivided attention to person/people with you?
  • Are you distracted by the devices and messaging tools as your disposal (smartphone/cell phone, landline, pager, computer or voicemail)?
  • If you are distracted, why are you? Do you need to be on ‘red alert’ for every incoming message?
  • Have you considered the message you send to the staff if you consistently put them second to these unpredictable interruptions?
  • Where have you placed them on the ‘importance’ scale?

Ironically, I came across the Hierarchy of Digital Distractions diagram (below) last week on the same day I was involved in a discussion about focusing on employees as individuals at a course. I doubt anyone would argue the convenience and benefits of using these tools in todays busy and complex work environment. And yes, there will be some exceptions when you do need to take a call. Does the incoming text/email/alert/call etc. always have to take priority?

Challenge: Consider the questions outlined above, and reflect upon whether your current practice could use a change.

digital distractions

Click here to view the original full size Hierarchy of Digital Distractions pyramid.

~ Mark

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