As humans, we were born selfish. Our instinctual need to be the most important part of our own universe runs through all our veins, and rightfully so. Without “me” being the top priority in everything we do every single day, we would never survive. So, it should come as no surprise that our own life issues are carried with us at the top of our minds, everywhere we go- including work.
As a manager, owner, or other such positions that are extremely brain stimulating, we may have the “luxury” to get lost in our work and block-out all other relentless thoughts that would otherwise plague us day-in and day-out. Unfortunately, not all positions within a store, restaurant, warehouse or elsewhere are as intellectually demanding, and allow for breaks throughout the day to let the mind wander.
A wandering mind can be a great asset in some cases- in fact some of the greatest “thinkers” (such as Albert Einstein) were daydreamers, or inward thinkers. Unfortunately, this kind of distraction can be extremely detrimental for those handling money, goods or even for customer service personnel. You see, although we are an amazing species, we still cannot think simultaneously about two things - thus when a cashier is thinking about what to get her boyfriend for Valentines day, she can not also be counting change in the same moment for her customer. Of course we do have the great ability to switch back and forth from one thought to another and imitate thinking about two or even three things at once, but it is in these moments where mistakes are inevitable.
We have all heard the term “leave your baggage at the door”, but other than stating this when onboarding a new employee, it is rarely mentioned or actively “adhered to”. Why isn’t this more of a focus in management? We are all aware of how important accuracy is within our business, and yet the number one contributor to inaccuracy is not paying full attention to the task at hand.
So what can we do to help keep employee’s baggage at the door and not have them carry it throughout the workday? Well, they can only hold so many bags! Why not keep their hands full with tasks at all times, and make this the focal point of their day. The more thought-provoking tasks to complete during an employee’s shift, the less time there is to pick up that baggage and carry it (along with other scattered, often monotonous tasks) throughout the day. In addition to keeping employees busy with challenging work, make sure you (as their superior) also stay focused on work-related topics and avoid handing them their baggage when they may have already left it at the door.
Hopefully by keeping your employee’s busy on stimulating tasks, or challenging them with a full workload, there will be less margin for error, and allow for a more productive and profitable business. And of course, make sure everyone stops by the baggage claim on their way out- you won’t want any of that piling up.