Today’s post is inspired by a 15 march, 2011 Vancouver Sun Article titled “Digital distractions can drain office productivity”, by Darah Hansen, page C3.
I have suggested that role performance is a critical lever for dealing with talent management (TM) issues. Strengthen performance and various talent issues are mitigated. This article raises some interesting observations regarding digital oriented distractions while doing the work.
Keeping this article in mind there are two essential aspects to ensuring role performance:
- Being clear on what needs to be done first, second, third, etc. This is the area of strategic focus, priorities and the understanding on how to balance amongst various objectives when they come into conflict.
- Being able to focus on tasks long enough and with sufficient attentiveness so as to be able to bring to bear one’s skills, knowledge, judgement and wisdom and be successful as a result. The article focuses on several of these needs.
Organizational leadership has a responsibility to attend to the first performance aspect. As to the second, leadership has a significant part to play, BUT, so does the individual in the role. Many distractions are within the control of the individual and so personal work habits are instrumental in being actively successful in dealing with them.
The article discusses how our growing disposition to continuously being interrupted by electronic messages in one form or other can have numerous dysfunctional effects both at home as well as at the workplace.
I have also noticed over the years as well as heard stories from others how leaders in organizations show little comprehension regarding what it takes to be successful (being unclear about the first issue and being a disrupting factor in the second. Regarding the second aspect, one is unlikely to confront a continuously or inconveniently distracting/disturbing boss. Leaders tend to be pretty good when safety or significant operational issues are at sake (the consequences are too visible and often significant to be ignored). It is the more intellectual type work that can be more easily distracted with little immediate feedback on how this is disrupting performance.
The key learning for me, is performance is a complex issue to manage. It is caught up in various convergent factors: role clarity, quality and timeliness of needed information, skills, knowledge, judgement, wisdom, ability to concentrate and focus, interactions with others, etc. On top of that, we as individuals own our motivations, attitudes, and personal work habits. The article discusses how individuals can take more control of their lives (e.g., turn off the cell phone, computer, physically remove oneself, etc.) and thereby remind us that we also own our personal performance.