Where is your team’s attention?

Here’s an old Zen story. A student said to Master Ichu, “Please write for me something of great wisdom.”

Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: “Attention.”

The student said, “Is that all?”

The master wrote, “Attention. Attention.” The student became irritable. “That doesn’t seem profound or subtle to me.”

In response, Master Ichu wrote simply, “Attention. Attention. Attention.” In frustration, the student demanded, “What does this word ‘attention’ mean?” Master Ichu replied, “Attention means attention.”

We live in a world of short attention spans. Attention span is the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. Right now, there is so many potential things for both managers and team members to focus on. The real key is doing what you can to unlock and direct people’s attention.

 “Where attention goes energy flows” – author James Redfield.

Now my question to you is this: 

As team members are starting to return back to pre-Covid-19 work routines, where is your team’s attention?

Are your employees receiving confusing, inconsistent messages, too much or no communication from you at the moment?

Or are you actively managing your employees’ focus, maintaining positivity and being the director in the story of your future plans?

Attention is not free so here are 8 tips on how to attract and keep someone’s attention?

  1. Give people value– people expect a return on attention so make it meaningful. What is the benefit to them for paying attention – is it involvement, the opportunity to contribute, the opportunity to gain clarity? Tell people what it is.
  2. Surprise – there has been a lot going on lately so to get someone’s attention, you need to do something big or unique to get their attention – especially if you need them to do something different. In public speaking, sometimes this may be a big quote or statistic, a loud noise, a funny gesture or staying quiet…..something out of the ordinary that intrigues people to find out more. What is something you might be able to do to grab your team’s attention and interest in your next meeting that is out of the ordinary? Time to get creative.
  3. Story telling – ‘Facts tell and stories sell’. Reveal yourself and share the story of what your business or department could look like in the next 12 months. ‘Painting the picture’ as much as you can about what the next 3 months or 12 months will look like (whichever you are in a position to be able to speak to) will help engage people’s interest and take them on the journey.
  4. Involvement – the more involved you get your team in your vision and objectives, the more they will buy into the process.
  5. Show people you care – to get your team to care about you or your business, you need to show your team you first care about them. “The way you treat your employees, is the way they will treat your customers” Richard Branson.
  6. Deliver what you promise – Every exchange of attention is generally rooted in a promise of something occurring. If you don’t deliver on that promise, you immediately lose that attention.
  7. Inspire people – Inspiration is powerful. I know there is some horrendous things that are going on in the world at the moment but incorporating things to be grateful for and sharing small doses of hope/inspiration helps set people’s mindset. Whether that is daily quotes, great TED talks, weekly wins or helping someone out etc, if we’re able to create things that deliver actionable inspiration, we can draw people’s attention into our world.
  8. Senses – The more senses you engage ie hearing, sight, touch or even taste or smell, the stronger the interest so think about how you are delivering your messages. Is it just verbal delivery ie hearing or can you show some written material, slides, provides some physical examples of things and so on.

Here is a client share…..

An inspiring example of something we have seen over this time was a small employer who organized a gift basket to all employees to their home. In it, a personal letter from them sharing how things had impacted them and how grateful they were for their team over this time. It had their favourite inspirational book, their 5 top treats, 3 helpful hacks for working from home and a large sheet that had 3 big focus areas for the company with a whole bunch of sticky notes to encourage ideas on what the team could do to help towards these 3 goals. This was delivered with a big THANK YOU balloon.

By the way – we have also had similar examples of team members sending special and personalised thank you’s to awesome bosses who have been doing it tough over this period…..so it can definitely go both ways.

So, in summary – what are the important messages you want to get across at the moment and how are you going to get your team’s attention?