MULTITASKING IS ASKING FOR TROUBLES
Successful Leaders should be Big Believers Leaders in taking the initiative to guide their people and teams towards success by setting appropriate number of directives and priorities to efficiently get the most urgent and importance tasks done successfully. With so many things to be done with minimal resources, new technology, and limited amounts of time, prioritizing and coordinating task requirements with specific expectations is an essential task for leaders when faced with major challenges that require others to multitask on an ongoing basis. To have your people or teams multitasking without prioritizing or collaborating… a leader could be asking for trouble in the work place.
“There’s always a learning curve, where you’ve got to learn what your subject is all about.” - Brad Gilbert
Successful Leaders should be Big Believers in taking the initiative to guide their people and teams towards success by setting appropriate number of directives and priorities to efficiently get the most urgent and importance tasks done successfully. With so many things to be done with minimal resources, new technology, and limited amounts of time, prioritizing and coordinating task requirements with specific expectations is an essential task for leaders when faced with major challenges that require others to multitask on an ongoing basis. Having your people or teams multitasking without prioritizing or collaborating… a leader could be inadvertently asking for multiple troubles in the workplace.
Today’s leaders find themselves in a battle to consistently adjust, adopt and acclimate to changing business demands that have a lot to do with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the business environments of our time. On one hand, a leader may find themselves leading to survive a temporary business scenario while having to lead their people and teams to sustain an emerging growth business initiative.
The tendency is for some leaders to push the demands and task requirements for change downward to those under their leadership to figure out on their own how to accomplish multiple tasks with limited awareness, time, resources and skills. Change demands that there be some multitasking to go from what we use to do to what we do now. What would be most helpful is to have the leader clearly state all the tasks that need to be done and the importance, the priority of each and the timeline that must be met with the leader giving insights on how the multiple tasks should be sequenced based on their experience. Simultaneously, the leader should allow for collaborative feedback so that the sequencing of tasks can be refined and be mutually understood to achieve desired outcomes.
Two observations are worth noting:
1. Recognize the limitations of multitasking:
People are not wired to effectively multitask. Numerous studies have shown that our brains struggles to maintain focus when their attention is divided between multiple tasks. Attempting to juggle several tasks simultaneously often leads to decreased productivity, increased mistakes, and a higher risk of burnout. One of the reasons team members wanting a virtual work environment is because it allows them the space to self-manage the tasks given to them and to engage in a process of self learning to figure out how they meet the work requirements given to them.
Leaders should take note of surveys results on multitasking like the results found in the article “Multitasking Statistics to Pique Your interest (2023 Edition)- What To Become… where the following was noted: “72% of employees feel pressure to multitask during the working day. The rise of remote work has made multitasking even more popular, with approximately half of the employees multitasking during remote meetings. On average, productivity increases by 59.8% when organizational multitasking is reduced.”
2. Too Many Directives without setting priorities
When leaders give multiple directives without setting priorities, it creates a challenging working environment for their team members. Without clear guidance on what tasks take precedence, people may become overwhelmed, leading to task paralysis or the temptation to rush through task responsibilities. As a result, the quality of work suffers, leading to frustration, misguided reporting, potential delays, errors, and a decrease in overall productivity. The leader has to be aware, monitor and understand the skills level of those they delegate tasks to. In virtual environments, an assessment of the work space conditions might be necessary. It is important to note that… it's not that most people can’t multitask at all; rather, the reality is they cannot be expected to multitask all the time for long periods of time or under certain conditions. They may not be able to multitask at all without learning or improving the required skills to handle multiple tasks more efficiently. Successful Leaders will be aware of this.
Successful Leaders should be Big Believers in taking the initiative to understand and guide their people and teams towards success by setting appropriate number of directives and priorities to get the most urgent and importance tasks done successfully. This requires the leader to foster an open and respectful discussion with those they lead to properly collaborate to have effective task management, especially in virtual work spaces. Leaders should work with their team members to identify the most critical tasks and determine the order in which they should be managed to achieve maximum outcomes.
In summary, there must be this buy-in on what is being asked of those you lead, especially where there are changes in methods and ways to handle required tasks that involve new technologies or platforms being introduced. People need time to adapt and adjust to eliminate unnecessary problems. People need time to learn and self-train themselves to be competent to do their best work. An open and honest dialogue is needed fosters a sense of transparency about what can and cannot be done while people are adjusting and adopting. Leaders should avoid overburdening their people and teams while the learning and adopting process takes place.
By embracing a collaborative approach to multiple task management, prioritizing, being transparent and setting expectation is how a leader effectively empowers their people and teams to handle multiple tasks in a timely manner as they work collectively to towards mutual goals. This collaborative leadership effort not only improves the quality of work but also cultivates a supportive and efficient working environment where the leader is seen a coach, partner and mentor when everyone is faced with pressing business demands that require multiple tasks be accomplished successfully. It will also build trust and get the tasks completed with quality outcomes.
Ultimately, every task is accomplished one at a time. Successfully Leaders who work to establish "doable" expectations and priorities that reflect what is important and urgent… they will overcome the inherent challenges with multitasking and avoid unnecessary troubles in the workplace.