In today’s culture of technology, we have grown accustomed to getting instant feedback, instant replies and instant answers. There are many benefits of a quick Google search. A quick tap tap of my fingertips on my smartphone and, Presto, I get my answer. It saves a lot of time, but we have created a work culture of needing instant attention and results which wastes a lot of time. As the small business owner or manager, this pattern of work can be annoying, distracting, unproductive and create errors in your work when your team is regularly interrupting you with questions.
An article from the Wall Street Journal states that face-to-face interruptions account for one-third more intrusions than email or phone calls, which employees feel freer to defer or ignore, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Organization Studies. Other research published in 2013 links frequent interruptions to higher rates of exhaustion, stress-induced ailments and a doubling of error rates.
As the small business owner, I was faced with the challenge of allowing myself to be obtainable, approachable, compassionate, and informed with the reality of staying on task and maintaining some efficiency. I needed to create a way that is more effective for my time as I found I was constantly being interrupted. While reading the book: The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes he discussed the idea of Got-a-Minute Meetings and immediately I had that Ah Hah moment when I knew this is what we needed to do. To implement this, each team member would be required to have small note pad to keep on hand.
The idea is simple. Each employee is given instructions that, when something comes up that does not need immediate attention, write it down. It is wise to give some ideas or specific scenarios of what you consider immediate versus what your employees might. Keep a list, and every couple of hours we will spend a minute or two going over these items. What an easy-to-execute policy that has helped streamline my time and helped my employees streamline their time as well.
This concept has worked so well that we now have implemented department Got-a-Minute meetings. These are scheduled once a week and throughout the week employees keep notes of things that come up, new ideas, problem-solving tips or a place to share how they feel the week went. The group convenes at the same time every week. To keep things timely and uncomplicated we have made these stand up, quick and to the point meetings. The purpose of these meetings has been to improve team work and communication. The benefit has been new product ideas have evolved. Another benefit is consistency among the team which always leads to more efficiency.
What strategies has your workplace implemented to minimize interruptions?