Picture this: It’s your fifth Zoom call of the day. As you listen to a colleague review agenda topics during a client meeting, a notification pops up for an email from another key client. You see the subject line flash quickly — and there seems to be a problem. You click over to your inbox to read what is going on and get absorbed in the new issue at hand — typing away and trying to resolve it.
Mid-paragraph, your ears focus back to the Zoom call as you hear, “Do you agree, Laura?” Agree to what? You wonder with building anxiety. Now you click back over the Zoom browser to see if you recognize the slide and try to hit replay on the subconscious tape recorder in your mind to see if you can recall what may have been asked of you. Nothing clicks. Now you’re forced to say, “Could you repeat that?”
You got caught up in distracted service. Much like its well-known cousin, distracted driving, you had a service accident because you believed you could be successful tending to two things at once. You can’t drive and talk on the phone, and you can’t participate in one client meeting while emailing about another client request. You won’t give either client the attention they deserve and expect. And you will miss out on important conversations and the ability to connect.
Working from home has given us the ability to work in a safe environment and flexibility in our personal and work responsibilities. Thank goodness that many of us have had this option during the past year and have been able to stay productive and engaged. But it does come with a different set of distractions that we may or may not control. For example, we may not be able to control our dog barking at the Amazon delivery truck, but we can control our actions and attention.
If the above meeting was in a conference room with everyone live and presenting, you would never dream of looking at your phone if an email or text came in and started to flash that addictive red light. Some companies have cell phone protocols for meetings rooms, to leave your phone at the door or turned over, to help us break this addiction and stay focused. But in our own kitchen tables and home offices, we don’t have that social pressure to keep you honest. So, what do you do? It’s okay to admit it, we all have done it.
My challenge: Stay in one meeting at a time. Give each of your clients, colleagues and/or vendors your full attention. You are not being unresponsive to the waiting email. But you are providing better service by answering when you are not distracted. Just like when you are driving, put the phone down and concentrate on the road ahead.
About the author
Laura Jozwiak is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Client Relations at Wheels, Inc. She oversees Wheels’ Sales, Account Management, Client Services, Client Relations and Client Analytics teams, which provide strategic guidance and analytic resources to assist Wheels’ clients in making informed decisions that improve the performance of their fleets.