Do you ever feel like your team is out of sync? In a fast-paced business environment where there’s little margin for error, staying on the same page is not just preferred – it’s a requirement. Even the slightest inconsistency from person to person or project to project can be costly on the output side. That’s why your focus, as a manager or CMO, must be on keeping everyone centered on the same end goal.
Why Can’t People Stay Focused?
The human brain can only focus for so long before getting distracted and moving on to something else. You’ve probably stumbled across the now-famous study that essentially proves gold fish have longer attention spans than the average human. David Rock, executive director at the NeuroLeadership Institute, points out what you probably already suspected – it’s a biological shortcoming.
“Every time you focus your attention you use a measurable amount of glucose and other metabolic resources,” Rock points out. “Studies show that each task you do tends to make you less effective at the next task, and this is especially true for high-energy tasks like self control or decision making. So distractions really take their toll.”
In other words, focus is finite. We only have a certain amount of it and your marketing team, as a collective group of individuals, must identify ways to maximize the amount of attention you’re able to give to a specific goal.
Furthermore, focus is also impacted by external circumstances and factors that fight for our attention. If you think that the rise in diagnosed cases of ADD/ADHD isn’t directly related to a world that’s filled with more stimuli than ever before, think again.
Between tablets, smartphones, computers, marketing messages, and everything else that’s constantly being thrown at you, it’s becoming more difficult than ever before to block out extraneous information and focus on what truly matters.
Four Smart Strategies to Drive Focus
From a position of leadership, you must take charge and pursue strategic actions that put your marketing team on track. Here are a few practical things you may consider:
#1. Don’t Plan in a Silo
Do you plan projects and objectives for your marketing team without their input? While you are in charge, this doesn’t mean you can’t get help from other people who will be involved in the execution.
“Managers should take ownership of the overall project, but getting input from team members can help correct oversights, fine-tune scheduling based on employee commitments or process dependencies you may not know about, and get everyone aligned and invested in the outcome,” says Igal Hauer, CEO of a tech company specializing in help desk software. “It also creates a sense of collaboration that can help reduce antagonism toward managers perceived as dictators.”
#2. Improve the Physical Environment
It’s easy to assume that focus is all in the brain, but remember that external factors play a role. If you want to eliminate distractions, then you need to proactively create an environment that’s conducive to productivity. A lot of companies, including Vyopta, are creating spaces known as “huddle rooms” to help in this area.
“A huddle room is a space for a quick meeting with all participants in a given project or team to align on a specific topic or come up with a ‘play’ for the day or week,” explains Jacob Borgeson, senior product marketing manager at Vyopta. “You can hold stand up meetings, 1x1s, or allow stakeholders for a given project to stay aligned in a room like this. It’s not designed for big company-wide meetings, but rather to maximize efficiency in smaller groups.”
Whether it’s a huddle room or simply moving from an open layout to a more private layout with quiet offices and secluded workspaces, anything you can do to reduce “noise” is a good thing.
#3. Increase Accountability
Sometimes people just need a little motivation to stay on task. If your team is constantly getting distracted and blowing off different assignments and milestones, you need to consider that they don’t feel much pressure to keep pushing forward.
One specific way you can turn up the pressure is by increasing accountability. This can be done in a variety of ways. It may look like assigning a point person to each employee and asking them to report daily or weekly progress to them in a formal report.
It could also look like implementing a time tracking tool that shows exactly where employees are spending their time. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your team understands your heart behind the increased accountability. You want it to breed output, not animosity.
#4. Have More Conversations
If your marketing team is out of sync, there’s almost certainly a lack of communication at some point in the line of command. And since you’re at the top of the hierarchy, it probably starts with you.
In today’s business environment, it’s easy to rely on instant messaging, email, text messages, and even phone calls to communicate. While all of these mediums are wonderful, they don’t replace face-to-face conversation. When you communicate via one of these mediums, there’s always a chance that the message will be distorted.
One practical step you can take is to commit to having more personal conversations with your team – both on an individual and collective basis. This doesn’t mean hosting more pointless meetings. Instead, it means making a commitment to leading via personal interaction, rather than from behind a computer screen. If you can do this, you should be able to coalesce your team behind company goals and objectives.
The Time to Act is Now
It’s time that we stop ignoring our collective opposition to focus and start doing everything within our power to reclaim concentration and accomplish the goals we have set before us. The longer you wait, the more your team will become comfortable with the way things are. Take action as soon as possible by implementing both small-scale and large-scale strategies that show your marketing team you mean business.