Saturday, June 13, 2009

Multi-tasking and the brain

Consciously trying to multi-task, being pressured into multi-tasking, or when our immediate focus is distracted with the intent of taking on yet another task simultaneously while . . . be aware. It's tough on the brain.

When you try to accomplish various things simultaneously, you'll probably end up doing a half-buttocks job on all of them. It trips up the brain and dilutes it's ability to focus. It's frustrating, debilitating, stressful, less productive, and perhaps even dangerous.

Example: you're stressed about an event that happened while trying to pass cars and get somewhere fast while explaining your frustrations to your passenger while she's interrupting you to remind you of the directions to take, AND simultaneously entering phone numbers into her iPhone, clearly unable to focus more than a minimum on your story and she knows it so she starts asking you questions about your dialogue out of feigned interest yet her next question comes with such bullet speed, you know she wasn't really listening to the answer you didn't have time to complete in the first place . . . meanwhile, YOUR cell phone goes off, maybe it's your son? oh! remember to take the next right at the light, hmmm, if I just reach a little to the left of my pocket I should be able to turn on the bluetooth and take the call or to at least turn off that distracting ringing while keeping my eyes on the road, oops - almost forgot to check that blind spot, what was that question you asked me? Where was I?

Multi-tasking at work, while cooking, while talking/listening to someone when you have way too much on your mind at the same time; its just different variations of the same dilemma.

Heres the truth about multi-tasking - it's not more efficient.

Terry Small's latest Brain Bulletin "The #1 Brain Myth and Why it is Dangerous" has some great information and facts from brain scientists to bust open this myth. I'm a fan of these brain bulletins. If you want to try them out, go to and sign up. I've also experienced Terry's brain information live when we were presenters at the same conference. He's engaging, and so enthusiastic about his topic and the audience's understanding of it.

So remember, when it comes to doing many things well, to be the master - be a 'solo-tasker'

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Managing employee issues

The Financial Post, June 7th, Canwest News Service

An article titled: "Why Managers can't manage" by Derek Abma.

I was saddened because I was saddly not surprised by this article as I read it on the plane from Kelowna to Montreal. I was on my way to a large communications company to teach various department leaders skills on managing emotions and stress at work. Mr. Abma's article reminded me of what seems to be a chronic problem and not enough being done about it.

It's a good eye opener. Mr. Abma referenced conclusions on Shepell-FGI's survey of human-resources professionals who attended the Health, Work and Wellness Conference in Vancouver in October. Not only are these statistics shocking to read, it's even more shocking so know how true it is.

Here's part of what he wrote:

"Among the findings, 84% of respondents said their organizations have no formal process in place to deal with declining employee productivity or behaviour problems. As well, 81% reported not having a structure in place to deal with issues of employee absenteeism, and 64% said their companies have no specific measures for supporting workers who return to work after an extended absence.

The Shepell-FGI report said employee stress levels rise in tough economic times, which can negatively affect productivity and lead to more absenteeism or disability leave. Karen Seward, Shepell's senior vice-president of business development, said much of the problem comes down to managers' inability to discuss personal issues with their employees. Survey: Supervisors lack the tools to deal with employee issues"

If communication in leadership is so important, and if people are our greatest resource, then why are leaders not trained in the obvious skill of effective communication and stress reduction? How stressful for them to not have support structures in place to deal with these issues - stressful for their subordinates - and a stressful plunge in health, productivity, and the bottom line.

A never-ending project is usually one that was never clearly defined in the first place.

Give your leaders clearly defined techniques and skills in how to communicate effectively, give them the clearly defined structures in place to deal with employee issues then watch the 'statictics' change for the better.