Editor’s Note: Guest post by Kate Simpson. Her opinions are her own.
Have you ever wondered why everyone in your team gets distracted just when you expect them to do their best job? Is it because you expect too much? Maybe you should take their phones away? Or set a new rule – “do not talk about personal things when you work.” Cut off the Internet connection? Oh snap, you can’t do that because you want to be a leader; not a boss.
So how do you convince your people to stay focused without bossing them around? Let’s be honest: that won’t be easy. You may need to play a few tricks on them, so they will continue to like you even though you’re practically making them work harder.
1. Everyone wastes time at work. Accept it and move on
You can’t hope all your people will stay 100% productive every single day, okay? Just take a look at yourself: you’re not always productive. You give yourself a break from time to time to check Twitter or to see what turn that weird Reddit thread took. If you’re not that kind of man or gal, then you’re a workaholic and you need to lighten up.
In a survey from 2014, 89% of the respondents said they wasted at least some time at work every single day. That’s not a trend – it’s human nature and you can’t make it go away. How can turn that to your advantage, I hear you ask?
When you notice that the people in your team are not doing what you expect, wait for 15 minutes. Give them that time to relax and they will appreciate your flexibility. Then, when you say ‘alright people, let’s get back to work,” you’ll make it sound like a joke, but they will be ready to do what you say.
2. Give them the tools they need
Everyone gets more productive with a new 15-inch MacBook Pro! Are you one of those leaders who always get the best gadgets for themselves, but leave the team with outdated laptops? That’s not cool, man. When you get them some really cool computers, tablets, phones, presentation sets, and everything else they need, you’ll notice how much more they enjoy their work.
Oh, and don’t forget to get them headphones. Not because you want them to enjoy music during working hours, but because you want them to stay immune to the distractions around them. If they share an office and they don’t need to talk to each other for the sake of work all the time, then this trick will keep them focused on their individual tasks. When someone has headphones on, people are far less likely to speak to them.
3. Take drastic measures: disconnect the Internet when they don’t need it
You shouldn’t do this every day because preventing Internet access will only frustrate your workers. However, if you notice they are spending way too much time watching cat videos on YouTube, you should take drastic measures.
If they don’t need the Internet during work time, you can disconnect it for at least 5 hours. Or, you can prevent access to distracting websites – that’s a nice trick to pull if they need the connection to work.
4. Organize a clean up
A messy desk is the worst possible distraction you could think of. You know that the way to clearing the mind starts by clearing the space around you. You can’t convince your people to do that because they are already tired from the work. However, when you turn that into a fun activity, they will be eager to do it.
Take a look at your schedule: is there space for a day off work? Tell your team you’ll do a big office cleaning and everyone will be in charge for their own space. Get them fun t-shirts and cleaning tools, and make sure to join the fun. After the big day, take them to a nice lunch. Keep them motivated to maintain the order they just set. You’ll notice the positive energy when everyone shows up to work the next morning.
5. Plan each project to the tiniest detail
When you and your team start working on a project, all activities should be coherent. They should all have individual plans for the tasks they are in charge of. However, all those schedules should be created according to one, greater plan. You’re in charge of that part.
Do you have a whiteboard in the office? If you do, then use it to present a fun, colorful calendar. When they look at the progressive tasks every day, the main goal will seem achievable and they will stay focused when working towards it.
The main thing you need to remember that it’s okay if your workers get distracted from time to time. You cannot spend your day yelling at them to do their jobs if you notice someone’s telling jokes. Accept their human nature and turn it to your advantage. Stay a flexible and fun leader, and you’ll inspire them to do a better job to make you proud of them.