GAME Your Way to Greater Productivity
by Kevin Eikenberry
There are many events outside of the workplace that can negatively impact workplace productivity. A major holiday and major sporting events (like the Super Bowl, World Cup or NCAA Basketball Tournament) are a few of these possible distractions.
As people begin to think about, talk about and focus on these events, their focus may leave their work. Think about it: how many tournament brackets are filled out on office time? How much Christmas shopping gets done online at the office every year?
This change of focus can lead to significant losses of productivity. As leaders we can't remove the distractions -- the events will still occur. Our job instead is to do what we can to recognize and take advantage of the situation however we can.
I suggest the GAME approach to maintaining focus and productivity in the face of these outside distractions. Let me explain.
G -- Gauge the real level of interest.
A -- Acknowledge the potential distraction.
M -- Motivate employees by maintaining high expectations through this time.
E -- Enjoy the opportunity to connect with your employees.
Let's look at each of these strategies in a bit more depth.
Gauge the Real Level of Interest. Don't assume that everyone is interested or distracted! Taking a "Henny-Penny the-sky-is-falling" approach will surely overstate the situation. Are some people talking about the pairings for the World Cup or NCAA tournament? Of course they are! But some people could care less about soccer or basketball (and might not be able to tell the difference between the two sports). When you realize that it might not be everyone, it will put your mind at ease just a bit.
Acknowledge the Potential Distraction. Share your concerns with your staff. Let them know that you know the big game is exciting and while you want them to enjoy it and talk about it, that you are concerned about productivity. Tell people it is natural and fine to be excited and that you hope some of that excitement can "rub off" onto the work. As a young professional, my boss suggested I literally stay away from work to watch my beloved Boilermakers in a first round NCAA Tournament Game. Working on the west coast the game was in the morning. His suggestion was to stay home, watch the game and come in as soon as the game was over. His only other request? Call in with a halftime score. How motivated and productive was I when I came to work that day, and for the rest of the week? I hope you know the answer (Go Boilers!). Not only that, but I still tell that story now more than 20 years later.
Motivate employees by maintaining high expectations through this time. While you should acknowledge any productivity concerns you have, you can also take a different approach. Consider mentioning and acknowledging the distraction and then refocusing attention on an immediate goal. If people have a short-term, highly-motivating goal or another important task to work on; their focus will be gently shifted away from a complete focus on the hype of the games or upcoming holiday. Putting that goal or challenge in front of them can be an extremely motivating thing to do! You will likely generate even more focus if you can somehow creatively tie the achievement of the goal to some down time for the big game or event. For example: If we get this shipment out by noon, anyone who wants can take a long lunch to watch the games, do Christmas shopping or whatever is appropriate given the circumstance. Of course -- if people aren't interested in the event, they can take a long lunch too if they choose or possibly leave a little early at the end of the day.
Enjoy the opportunity to connect with your employees. If you are a fan too, use this as a way to connect with your team (your work team that is). Have a pre-game celebration. If the games are on during the week, put a TV on showing the games during lunch. Be involved in any of the other activities surrounding the event. As a leader this may be an outstanding opportunity for you to build rapport and trust within your organization and deepen relationships with your employees.
Use the GAME approach in times of distractions and you will be leading more proactively. At the same time you will be maintaining or growing productivity and team morale.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.
Kevin Eikenberry may be contacted at http://KevinEikenberry.com or info@KevinEikenberry.com