How Much are Workplace Interruptions Costing You?

Did you know that workplace interruptions cost the US economy $588 billion each year*? This same source reported that we lose 3 to 5 hours daily due to interruptions.

Are you costing your company money?  We are a connected society and I don't see that changing back to the old way EVER.  However I wonder what the impact is on our effectiveness.

To define what I mean, remember efficiency is getting things done and effectiveness is doing the right things.  Interruptions cause us to get off track on the right things we need to be doing.

Let's do a test.  For the next hour identify one thing that you would like to accomplish. Start a timer.  Keep a piece of paper next to you and draw a line each time you do any of the following..

  1. Look at an email, text, or instant message, etc, that arrives on your phone or computer that you look at
  2. If the phone rings and you pick it up
  3. If the phone rings and you can see the callerID and decide to pick up the phone
  4. If the phone rings and you look at callerID to determine if you should pick up the phone
  5. You decide to check your phone although there was no indication you needed to
  6. Someone stops at your desk to talk about a business issue
  7. Someone stops at your desk just to say hi
  8. You just remembered something you should have done and stop what you are doing to address it now.

I could keep going but let's see what you found.  How many interruptions did you have?  If you say less than 3 you are doing good.  How many of you had more than 10?  Think about it.  If you spent 20 seconds to a handful of minutes thinking about the interruption is that impacting the work that you have in front of you?

I know it does for me.  I'm actually on an airplane with limited interruptions so I can focus on writing this blog post.  :-)  It seems like the only time I can have focused time without interruption.


* Statistics reported by Edward Brown Cohen Brown Management Group in Workforce Management magazine

Handling stubborn people.

So what do you do when someone is being stubborn with their ideas?  How do you get them to open up their mind?

Being from the northeast, when I come across someone that is "stubborn", I sometimes just want to tell them "SNAP OUT OF IT"!  But I know that doesn't work in most cases. 

Here are a few ideas on how to modify your communication to get the "stubborn" person to see the light.

"There is probably more than one way to look at this."

"I certainly understand how you see it, but I see it a bit differently."

"Can you think of any other way to address the issue?"

"Are you open to hearing other people's ideas?"

"What are the pros and cons of the approach you are presenting?"

Please share your experiences and ideas.  Many times the person being stubborn hasn't been politely challenged on other options to solve a problem.  


Disinterested and Disengaged Sponsors

A few weeks back we had a webinar on "Managing Up".  In just a 1 hour webinar it is hard to answer everyone's questions.  One of our attendees afterwards asked the question:  "We all know that if it is the wrong or disengaged sponsor, then he/she should not be there (which was sort of the answer given). In larger organization that may be possible, but in small ones you may not be able to change that. There may be only one or two sponsors and what you have is what you get. So, what would be a proper way to influence these types of sponsors?"

Thanks Ana for your question.  It is a difficult question regardless of the company size, but I do understand the issue as it relates to a small company.  The first thing I would suggest is that you ask a lot of questions, of yourself or with someone in management that you trust.

1) Why is the sponsor disinterested?  Is it because they don't believe in the project, or something else?

2) Would the sponsor EVER be interested?  What would engage them?  

3) Does the sponsor even know what it means to be a sponsor?  Would that person be open to learning how to be a good sponsor?

Once you have these questions answered, we can then formulate a plan.  In order to execute the plan, you may have to enlist the support of other senior leaders that may have more influence over that particular sponsor.  

Unfortunately there are no easy answers in this situation.  Let's put this out there for others to comment.