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Motivating a Distracted Workforce- Leadership and Change

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Dec 06, 2010 @ 09:34 AM

leadership and changeIn a recent guest lecture on leadership we spent the entire seminar discussing how much technology affects our ability to be good leaders.  I did some follow up research and apparently it's a bigger problem than we think.

A great article on leadership and change in the New York Times suggests this lure of digital stimulation comes because technology use and the multitasking that comes with it, promotes a dopamine squirt that can be addictive. So even if we are not required to do several things at once we will anyways, because we are addicted to it.

Apparently our DNA is impressionable and the way we constantly multitask is affecting the way we think. Very rarely today do people do one thing at a time. Instead we switch our focus from one thing to the next and technology helps us or forces us to do this.

How do leaders motivate company employees if the workforce is constantly distracted? If people are addicted to distraction how can we lead a motivated, congruent, purposeful team?

As i write this article i struggle to focus as my phone keeps ringing, my new text message alert is going off, I also am watching the clock because i have a conference call in an hour. I see some new emails in the inbox that require my attention and some  comments on my twitter account.

Get a handle on multitasking. Information overload is taking it's toll on performance as it increases errors, reduces short term memory, alters our ability to pay attention to detail, affects our creativity and creates incredible stress ( NY times).

In 2008, people consumed three times as much information each day as they did in 1960.

And they are constantly shifting their attention. Computer users at work change windows or check e-mail or other programs nearly 37 times an hour, new research shows.

A strong sense of leadership and purpose would question whether the distraction is in line with this purpose.

Leaders should question if people are skirting the real challenging issues to give attention away to the more urgent dilemmas. It is a good activity to document anything that is an interuption in the day. Analyze this activity and ask, Is this a necessary distraction? Is this making me more productive? Is this in line with our purpose?

How do you deal with disruptions?

Tags: motivate company, guest lecture, presentation on leadership, leadership and change

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