It's no secret that our attention span shortens by the day. As a matter of fact, in 2015, the average human had an attention span of 8.25 seconds. And if you are wondering how we should feel about this number, you should know that it is shorter than the one of a goldfish (!). Furthermore, you should also be aware that it decreased by almost 4 seconds in just 15 years. So, if you are trying to imagine where we'll be in 2030, let's just say that we'll probably be competing for the podium with fruit flies.
Now, as alarming as this may sound, this topic is mainly discussed by marketing as it directly affects how users interact with apps. Yet, content creators are not the only ones suffering from the lack of focus. No. The incapacity to concentrate on tasks affects organizations worldwide.
Studies show that, on average, within each working hour, employees check their emails 30 times. Yes, that means every two minutes. Oddly enough, they do it not because they are waiting for a message. They do it simply because they can't stay focused on a task without moving their attention to something else. And even though these employees stop just for a few seconds, it's enough to get distracted.
With this thought in mind, we started to think about what team leaders could do. What can they do to coach and foster an environment with much more focus? Our point of view: it's about deeply understanding the team in order to remove distractions and create more flow.
So what exactly is this flow we are referring to?
A while back, we brought to discussion the aspect of Positive Psychology. Back then, we talked about the fact that there is just one universal happiness. And today, we want to address another part of this domain, which is precisely the notion of “flow” mentioned above.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the father of the concept, and he explains how flow should be perceived as "the holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement."
Furthermore, he highlights the fact that in order for people to enter the state of flow they need to tackle challenges that are just right for their level of expertise. Simply put, each individual needs to be given tasks that are neither too easy nor too tough for their skills.
"Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act."
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Having a team that is emerged in a flow status is what every leader should aspire to have. Being in a state of flow makes us completely focused on the activity we perform. Being in a state of flow removes all other distractions, allowing us to get involved 100% and use our skills to the utmost. In other words, being in a state of flow increases our attention span, helping us concentrate better. And that's something to be desired.
Now to wrap things up, we want to suggest a couple of things to you, the leader in charge of your team. In order to create an effective environment for your team, make sure that you give your employees challenges that are appropriate for their skills. Moreover, communicate your goals clearly and give them a sense of empowerment. Help your employees by offering unambiguous feedback each step of the way. And more importantly, let them tell you their thoughts about their focus, or lack thereof.
So the big secret to creating a team environment to strive for is very simple: continuously ask questions and provide feedback. Doing so will allow you to understand your employees and let them know you. Because, yes, it's really that straightforward.
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