Are you dealing with more regulation, a reduced workforce and a shrinking budget leaving your organization with decreased productivity, mediocre performance and waning profitability? Are you hoping to push a button that will delete all old programming and thinking and magically upgrade your systems and workforce?
This may not be the quite magic button you are hoping for but there is an answer – focus. By unleashing the focus of your workforce you can increase their engagement, productivity and performance, while decreasing stress and disengagement. However, this requires change, sometimes significant change – in your thinking, your approach to leadership, the way you communicate with your workforce, the organizational structure of your operation and even the workplace environment.
“Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while,” said Jack Welch, past Chairman and CEO of General Electric. It is the willingness to change from old ways of thinking to sustainable thinking; from nineteenth century communication styles to conversational communications. It’s about moving from sixteenth century organizational charts to circular-flowing ones that work in the twenty-first century. It’s about changing workplace environments that are chaotic and distracting to creating ones that are encouraging, inspiring and conducive to creativity and a natural flow of focus.
Workplace environments do matter. Chaos, clutter and distractions will immediately disengage your workforce and break their focus, resulting in reduced productivity and diminished performance. This type of workplace environment also increases the stress and workload of management, making them scramble to figure out what went wrong, why and how to fix it.
Jack Welch’s call to action is, “Change before you have to. Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
Shift chaos in the workplace to create order: Chaos in the workplace can come from many things such as confusion in messaging from management, a frenzied pace of operations, a disorganized workplace layout or even untidy, dirty and unorganized operational conditions.
Take a breather from looking at management style and the latest trends in getting a workforce to do what you want them to do. Instead, look at the physical environment your employees work in eight hours or more per day. Is the lighting too harsh? Are the walls painted calming productive colors? Is noise pollution under control? Is the atmosphere encouraging, engaging and conducive to maximum performance? If not, take action to change the problem areas. These are the steps that lead to focused engagement and increased productivity.
Eliminate clutter in workspace areas to engage your workforce: Clutter is a barrier to the focus, engagement and productivity of your workforce. Clutter causes disorder and confusion resulting in distraction, misperception and misunderstandings. Clutter acts like a tree planted in the middle of a road, confusing the driver and creating a roadblock to the driver’s focus.
What is standing in the way of focus in your workplace? Is it the boxes of new retail inventory or spare manufacturing parts strewn along hallways so employees can barely walk through? Is it old equipment and stacks of paperwork that you should have disposed of long ago? Is it archaic communication systems or information retrieval systems that deter focus and reduce the engagement of your workforce? Are the walls and floor dirty and in disrepair? Create a plan to eliminate the clutter and dust and your workforce will dramatically improve just from this one step. Remain vigilant as clutter has a nasty habit of self-reproduction.
Minimize distractions to create an unencumbered flow of focus: Distractions can come from many places: management and peer interruptions, social media, unclear communications, poorly laid out workplace floor plans, and difficult to access management.
Ill placed walls are huge barriers to the flow of focus. No one really likes to work in a 6’ x 6’ or 2’x 4’ box, especially Generations X and Y. Perhaps it is time to eliminate the cubicle or to re-create it to better facilitate the flow of focus and engagement of your workforce. Walls, even temporary or short ones, create barriers to an engaged workforce. Barriers are also created by placing management at long distances from their team members. This causes workforce disengagement, thus reducing focus. Take time to actually view your workplace environment from the perspective of your team to see if it is conducive to engagement and focus. If not, it’s time to change.
Step out of the existing top down management thinking box so you can actually see what your workforce faces on a daily basis. Make changes to the physical environment, so you can connect with your workforce emotionally. Create a workplace environment that is calm, encouraging and engaging where focus flows freely. The result? Productivity, profitability and performance not only grow but are sustainable.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.