How to Tackle Workplace Distractions

James McDonough blog sizeWhen does healthy workplace interaction cross the line to distraction? Apparently, this happens quite often! A recent survey by Lee Hecht Harrison found talkative co-workers are the #1 source of workplace disruption, far ahead of emails, odors, and ambient noise.

Employee engagement, teamwork, and productivity are boosted by employers who allow professional workplace relationships. Observe your workplace to determine if some of your employees are overly talkative. If there are issues to tackle, respond carefully without harming productive workplace relationships. In lieu of heavy-handed policies, consider these approaches:

  • Coach chatty staff. Meet with them privately and describe your observations, concerns and expectations around personal conversations on company time.
  • Coach passive “listeners”. Discuss how to politely end a conversation so they can focus on their work. Many people are not comfortable doing this, so consider role playing and offering suggested phrases. Clarify expectations around their productivity.
  • Provide signals. Give employees a way to non-verbally tell co-workers they need “quiet time”. Closed office door, flags, signs, whatever works for your culture. Explain this is a form of workplace etiquette to honor.
  • Model desired behavior. Determine “rules of thumb” for workplace conversations and train supervisors and managers to model during the workday.
  • Brainstorm unique solutions. Gather managers and leaders to determine what works best for your organization’s culture. One size does not fit all!

If you need help, contact me at jmcdonough@msec.org.