It’s Just Noise
Small business owners face many challenges that slow down their business’s growth. One hidden challenge—distractions—can cause significant disruption in a small business. These distractions are relatively new to leaders, who must find new ways to keep team members focused on common goals.
Distractions, also known as noise, aren’t the audible noise from a car driving down the road but rather anything that distracts team members from staying focused on tasks. Distraction noise comes from all directions. Noise is classified into political, situational, economic and personal noise. Everyone is bombarded with distractions, not just the leaders.
This noise can be as simple as a pile of dishes in the kitchen, window film boxes not picked up in the warehouse, social media during working hours or gossip about the latest political news. These disrupt the workplace and cause team members to be demotivated, stressed and frustrated. The leaders are responsible for keeping unwanted distractions out and everyone focused on similar goals.
Tune It Out
Recent surveys show that nearly half of employees perform better and improve productivity when workplace distractions are reduced. What are these workplace distractions? These can be outside gossip, inessential meetings, the latest social media trend or political controversy.
Before we tune it out, we must recognize these distractions, listen to the opportunities that can make a change, embrace our similarities and differences and create a communication dialog.
Everything that exists or has existed was created through language/communication. The leader’s duty is to encourage communication through their own actions. These actions begin with tuning out distractions that interfere with productivity. This doesn’t mean ignoring them but acknowledging them and eliminating unwanted distractions. This is where the biggest change comes from. We all have one great superpower that no one can take away: how we respond.
Making the Change
Noise comes not only from external factors but also from internal factors. Internal noise is a quick way to make positive change. Everyone is guilty of tolerating imperfect conditions in the workplace. Studies show workers are more enthusiastic and energized when their environment is organized.
Look around your workplace. What do you notice you are tolerating? Are boxes not placed neatly on a shelf, papers on your desk or do you have a messy warehouse? If you are still determining those tolerations, ask your team what tolerations need to be removed. What would they suggest? Ask them to help remove them.
You might be surprised by what you hear and your team’s actions when given the opportunity. This is a team-building exercise. Start by removing one toleration each month. Start small, taking out the trash at the end of each day or sweeping floors regularly. Imagine a workplace where all team members strive to remove tolerations on their own without the leader’s involvement.
External noise can be more challenging, especially with a 24-hour news cycle and social media at our fingertips. Good leadership does not incite people towards or against certain sides. Good leaders are neutral. This takes practice. Leaders must understand that everyone has a right to their opinions, and they do not try to influence them.
This starts with listening and asking questions. There’s the old saying—seek to understand before being understood. Create an atmosphere that asks questions and listens for answers instead of judging the responses. What would happen if your office became a place of asking questions instead of stating opinions?
How will you respond to the opportunity to be a better leader? That opportunity begins today and with every interaction we have.
Practice small by wishing the cashier at the grocery store in a bad mood a good day or not engaging with the driver of the car that cut you off while driving to a jobsite. As 2023 begins, think about the changes that would happen by removing tolerations in the office.
Your team is looking for a leader—be that leader.