Leadership Matters: Cut out ‘noise’ at work

Here are eight things leaders can do to reduce distraction and information overload—and why they must.

Remember when we thought more was better? In a more innocent time, leaders really believed the more information people had, the smarter they’d be, the better decisions they’d make and the greater success they’d have. Now we know how wrong we were: Nonstop emails, endless meetings and 24/7 connectedness cripple employees’ ability to think, solve problems and do the deep work a business needs to stay competitive. So here’s the real question: What are we going to do about it?

Too often, the answer is “nothing.” Too many organizations let what I call “noise” squander our most valuable resource: our employees’ time and attention.

It’s ironic that we’ll go to great lengths to protect our intellectual property and physical assets but don’t think twice about allowing a deluge of digital disruptions erode our employees’ ability to perform. Employees are so distracted on a constant basis that they don’t know what to focus on—or even how to focus.

This is a problem for many reasons. When people can’t focus, performance suffers. There’s less of a sense of accomplishment because it’s hard to get things done. This cuts into employee engagement and fulfillment at work. It’s impossible to create the kind of culture that attracts and retains good talent.


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