January 7, 2021
Last time we talked about carving time for real work during the day and about how we are the only company that offers Focus Flow Analytics, measuring the time your team spends in flow. Now it’s time to talk about what is attacking that time: distractions. So pull up a chair and don’t get distracted while you dive into this one…
First, let’s talk about some recent events:
In my last newsletter, my colleague Martin Vrany gave you an insight into Focus Flow from the data science point of view. This week I want to offer you a look at how I, as a CEO, help my employees reduce distraction.
As a data-driven leader, I like to practise what I preach. I saw the gradual uptick in workplace distractions in many of my projects - and founded Time is Ltd. to help CEOs improve productivity with the right data analysis. I’m not referring to the distractions that plague us individually, but the endemic distractions that exist in our working environment.
At Time is Ltd. we use Slack, Zoom, online meetings, emails, etc - but are attentive to their potential danger to distract us. These tools can morph from a help into a hindrance, so to prevent them from distracting us so much that we are unproductive, I know I need to keep an eye on the stats. Our analytics visualise distraction trends.
Here is a screenshot of our own Focus Flow analytics, specifically showing how our engineering team is faring - looking at frequency of emails, message and meetings.
Slack messages comprise the majority of their communication time, but the metric that concerns me most is the time they spend in meetings. Why is it on such a steady increase? If this were the Sales team, it might signal increased client engagement and outreach. But for engineers, this sounds an alarm: in their role, focus time for product development/enhancements should be a priority.
I’ve talked before about how meetings are rarely the hybrid working sessions we wish them to be, so I delved a bit deeper and looked at the focus rate of each team on aggregate. Here I see that the engineering teams’ actual focus rate has not seen a significant change, but that management’s focus seems to be suffering far more.
There is no optimum percentage for Focus Flow - each team’s roles demand different levels of communication and engagement. Growth and increased collaboration will demand more of the management team’s time, but I need to be alert to how much it’s affecting their focus. To flourish, every employee needs time to strategise and needs less distraction.
Our Alert View gives you the scope on problem areas: are focus rates changing too dramatically?
Teams are split into three categories based on their communication data and trendlines: Praise (for the ones in safe ground), Watch (for those on shaky ground), Get Inspired (for the best performing teams). You can see from our sociomap that Operations is performing best, whereas some teams are moving into dangerous territory.
Find the root cause: is a new project requiring increased discussions, or is it a cultural problem within the team?
Data + Insight = Action
The data is only as good as the CEO using it. Our data scientists have written about the perils of micromanagement and it’s important to look at the trend rather than the individual. Remember, we’re talking about intrinsically shifting company culture to reduce distractions, not singling out which employees are spending too much time messaging.
Leaders need to step up: make the meetings matter, make the messages count, and reduce the distractions so your teams can focus.
What’s on the horizon for Time is Ltd.?
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