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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Distraction

Huh? What did you say? Are you distracted at work? You may think you are not, but your employees seem to be.

Is it any wonder? Difficult economic conditions, combined with a 24-hour news cycle, make it easy for employees to become distracted. Combine that with fears of layoffs, cutbacks, and other unknowns, and you have the makings of a very inefficient workplace.

Managers can combat the big distraction in many different ways. Some of which are direct, and others down right funny. Executives & Professionals: Changing Jobs?

With U.S. unemployment in 1Q2009 near 10%, most people know of someone who has been laid off. That is a terrifying feeling on any day of the week. However, as the value of most peoples' homes has fallen, as well as retirement savings, this fear takes on a new dynamic. As a manager, if layoffs are planned, be honest and provide as much lead time as possible. Don't be coy. Folks need as much time as possible. There is a risk that some employees will leave at the rumor of a layoff, but focus your attention on the core of employees. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

If you have finished reducing staff, you need to motivate your remaining staff. Organize a contest to promote teamwork and achievement. Set motivational goals and reward them with a sign of recognition. The purpose is to demonstrate confidence in the future. Focusing on delivering high customer service and quality is critical in a down economic environment. Find a way to incentivize the behavior and acknowledge it very publicly. The rewards don't have to be expensive, just meaningful.

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Finally, acknowledge the stress and distractions. Be willing to talk about employee's concerns. For folks really stressed out, consider offering a day off. Make sure to remind people of the Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), if your company has one. The goal is help people express their concerns, be relieved of them, and get back to work at hand.

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt create distractions. While you may not be able resolve macro distractions, such as a recession or unemployment, you can certainly create a positive atmosphere and provide a listening ear. Don't forget about yourself either!

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