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Mixed Messages that Inhibit Productivity

Ahem… I have a few questions…

  1. How much of your day do you spend putting your work on the backburner to help others?
  2. Do you have a habit of quickly jumping in to answer emails or questions from your team members, when it’s time for you to be ‘heads down’ in your own work?

Well, there’s a ginormous elephant in the room and its name is, Mixed Messages.

Being in a position of leadership, you may feel that you need to be actively in-tune with the team and what they need at all times – especially when training is occurring. And while your desire to always be available to help is admirable, it very well may be sending mixed messages and destroying productivity.

From your modeling, the team is learning that whatever they are doing, they should also keep an eye on their emails and messages in case they are needed. At the same time, you as their leader set expectations around their productivity.

Yet, if they are unable to remain focused on their work they will be less effective and less productive.

Here are some numbers for ya:

  • Trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%.
  • The average desk job employee loses about 2 hours a day to distractions and interruptions (that adds up to over a full day of work every week).
  • On average, employees who do the majority of their work on computers are distracted every 10.5 minutes.

So do you want them to focus, or do you want them to be available?

  1. Set some rules around when it’s time to work, and when it’s time to read through messages.
  2. Create boundaries for being able to protect your own time to work.
  3. Establish agreements on how to triage and prioritize internal needs, and client needs.


Being less available (when appropriate) will encourage your people to be more independent and solution oriented. This in turn leads to the ability to fully delegate. Yay fun stuff!


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