In a post for one of my online classes I teach, the subject of multitasking came up to which I responded to a comment about the ‘myth’ of multitasking and what happens to our brains when we do too much forced and sustained work. It gets depleted, leading to the perils of errors and low performance.
I was quite surprised when another student commented that, while he recognized this himself, he did not believe his company understood as workers are expected to multitask – doing several projects at once, moving from one area to another, while working an 8 hour-shift. He indicated that this was a norm in his industry (IT) and that they have adapted to these intense shifts.
This got me thinking about his leadership and if they really know how much their employees are actually working and spending time in their work tasks. I think of his upline and their awareness, as well as conveyance, that employees need to do multiple tasks at the same time if they want to keep their job. This speaks of the old way, back in the day, when we were caught in the recession and employers having a plethora of applicants to choose from, so the motto became “do or perish.” But, now?
I also wonder if the up-line talks to employees or observes what is going on and how work is being done. Is this a product of a customer who has high demands, or is this due to the perception that work needs to be done faster in order to get and retain customers by satisfying them with quick turn-around? Could it be that workers put pressure on themselves to show their worth so they get noticed, or even still worry if they will have their jobs? Or is this an ego-fed result from the boss who wants a promotion or is driven by his own interpretation of directions he or she has been given?
As a leader, it is your job to be aware of the daily work-life of those you oversee and ensure they have appropriate systems and resources to do the work, to understand with clarity the work goals needing to be accomplished, and to give them support while they are working to get them completed. These are very easy responsibilities to handle. It means being the silent observer, the listening ear, and the motivator to your people. Having conversations with them is the way to get to know them, their needs, and help them to be more inclusive into daily work life.
It’s being aware of the effects the workplace has on workers, both positively or negatively, as well as the long-term impacts that too much sustained work can have on both the mind and the body. And it’s about doing as much as you can to make it one that employees are happy to go to their jobs and do work involved – it starts by being aware to how, and how much, your workers are doing daily.