Fatal distraction

2008-04-28 00:00

You will, I am sure, remember that movie (a good many years ago now) in which a "fatal attraction" developed from an illicit liaison between the characters, played by Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Douglas was, to say the least, distracted from his established and, to that point, successful marriage. The movie also reflected how the developing relationship dramatically impacted on his work ethic and productivity, to a point where he was dismissed.

What, you may ask, has this to do with a weekly column on running your business to make money? Recently, I read that over 90% of all affairs start in the workplace. I doubt whether there is any greater ongoing distraction than that coming from such affairs, yet it is just one situation that can have a fatal impact upon our business focus and performance.

If ever there were a time and need for 100% commitment to our business objectives and employment generally, it is now. There can be no place for any thought, attitude or behaviour that results in distracting us from the purpose of why we are at work, why we run a business, while the economy, daily, slows down.

You may have detailed, excellent objectives and plans in place, but if you are not there, focused on putting them into action, on a daily basis, they are unlikely to mature. An illicit office liaison can have devastating affects on the ability of the individuals involved to think clearly, strategise or concentrate on their true responsibilities.

In an office of say, five or six employees, an extra-marital affair between two of them can have an extremely negative effect on the productivity and morale of all the office employees, who are aware of the situation and are dragged into complicity when they face the spouses at social or company functions. The point is, it is going on and it is extremely detrimental to the workplace.

Believe it or not, golf can and often does become a major distraction for people at the workplace. In the name of networking, the Wednesday afternoon exodus from the business has more negative than positive outcomes. However, the problem becomes a real issue when it isn’t just Wednesday that the top guy takes off, but when most afternoons after 2 pm he can’t be contacted because he’s out playing golf.

This is a recipe for disaster. You cannot abdicate responsibility. You hold the position and with that position comes the need for total involvement. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself mentally and or physically removed from that position, then you have to stop the bus and get off it.

Ironically, people will often say they are having an affair or leaving the business after lunch each day because they are bored. What happens between 8 am and 4.30 pm is devoid of excitement. The answer to this situation is to recognise the inadequacy and do something constructive to put it right. Produce the plans, talk with your people and get yourself involved — in essence, set yourself objectives that by their nature will bring back the excitement.

It must have been there at the beginning — so what went wrong? I have always liked the expression, "if the cap fits, wear it". Well. If you get more than a twinge of guilt when you read these words, then look at not just yourself, but your workplace as well.

Shake things up, turn them around. Most of your problems or distractions will have originated from repetition. Nothing promotes boredom more easily than constant repetition. So do something about it and make the change.

frankgreenfield@iafrica.com

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