It’s one of our biggest fears as leaders. We look at our people and see troubling behaviors:
- They forget what we tell them
- They are more anxious and stressed
- They aren’t coming up with creative ideas to solve problems or identify new opportunities
- Their productivity is dropping
- They are making more mistakes
Before you rush out and hire that consultant to do an employee engagement or culture study, know this. All of these are symptoms of people trying to multitask.
No: it’s not because they are “doing it wrong” and need better training. It’s because multitasking is impossible.
Here’s what the research shows.
It’s not an “OK boomer” thing: digital natives are no better at multitasking than their older coworkers. It’s not a “man” or “woman” thing, because we’re all equally unable to do more than one complex brain activity at the same time.
Our organization’s culture suffers because we expect our people to do more things in less time. So they think multitasking will help them accomplish this.
What’s actually happening is that they’re switching between two or more tasks as fast as they can. But their brains aren’t designed to do this. Which means they’re likely screwing up one or more items on the to-do list and taking much longer to do less. And that negative behavior you see is the physical and emotional fallout from their attempt to do the impossible.
Frightening statistic: trying to multitask drops a person’s IQ by an average of 10 points and can be the equivalent of missing one night’s sleep.
Try to love a company and support it’s mission when that’s happening to you!
It’s time to understand how our brains operate and design work to support rather than drain our strengths. Your people will thank you. And your culture will finally help you reach your goals while being much more inviting!