With ever-changing priorities, 24/7 emails, evolving technology and escalating competition, it can be harder than ever to stay focused and feel a sense of accomplishment at work. We’ve all been there with barriers in the workplace and there are many reasons why barriers might occur such as:
- There’s ever-changing priorities from multiple stakeholders and you are having trouble balancing
- Goals might not be shared across departments so it can be difficult to collaborate
- There’s a constant stream of emails and/or calls that throw you off course
- You are new to the task at hand and don’t have clear guidance how to approach it
- You have constant interruptions from customers, top clients or even your boss that prevent you from working in a linear fashion to accomplish things that take time and focus
Rest assured that these things are common. There wouldn’t be phrases such as “writer’s block” or “I can’t see the forest through the trees” if others didn’t have the same struggle from time to time. When barriers occur there are several strategies you can employ to ease your stress, work through them and gain momentum.
- Step one entails disconnecting from distractions that aren’t necessary – blocking out things such as social media and/or emails that aren’t priorities or aren’t work related. Use functions like the rules setting in your email to file emails that may just be notifications and/or recurring system generated emails. This will allow you to then check them when you need to and not be disrupted by them when working through a project.
- Write out on paper what needs to be accomplished and brainstorm ideas on how to start it (who should you involve, what questions do you need answered, what resources will you need)
- Use the “Low Lying Fruit” strategy – if you have a number of tasks, complete the easiest ones on your list first to achieve a quick sense of accomplishment and garner momentum to keep moving forward.
- Or employ the “Eat the Frog” mentality by which you jump in to the project that you are dreading the most. Send the emails you need to send, call the people you need to call, engage the stakeholders you need to make the project happen and be forthright about how important their input and collaboration is to your project.
Sometimes the barriers we experience happen because of lack of collaboration and conflict in the workplace. Conflict can be downright uncomfortable and at times, even paralyzing to your productivity. Therefore, it’s even more important in the case of conflict to understand it, face it and solve it. Conflict is natural and is going to happen whenever you have people with different expectations, experiences, opinions, priorities, personalities, goals, etc. The workplace is probably one of the most common places for conflict due to the diverse nature of departments, positions, job functions, roles and responsibilities. When working in a fast-paced environment, it is easy for things such as miscommunication, misunderstanding, confusion, disagreements, differing opinions and emotions to contribute to conflict arising. Sometimes the effect of that conflict can result in tension, hurt feelings, lack of cooperation, resistance and unresponsiveness among co-workers. Traditionally, conflict in the workplace is viewed as unhealthy and negative; however the goal should be to view conflict as a potentially healthy catalyst for improvement.
The first step that must be established is agreeing on one common goal – which quite simply is resolution. Once everyone can agree that they want resolution, the path forward can become clearer. After that initial agreement to work towards resolution, it’s necessary to practice active listening and speak in a manner that emphasizes the positive. In a situation of conflict, there actually can be many positives – awareness of an issue that could have been detrimental if the conflict had not arisen; innovation of new ways to handle something; opportunity to build a deeper understanding with someone; and a chance to self-reflect and increase your own self and social awareness.
When it comes time to explain your thoughts, it’s important to step back and explain your perspective humbly, realizing that feedback is necessary and your thoughts are not necessarily the prevailing opinion or a conclusion of fact. As you start to work through these differences in thought, it’s best to work on confronting the problem as a team and not criticizing any one person or their opinion. The focus should always be on moving forward and finding the best solution. When going back and forth in discussion, it’s important to ask questions of each other respectfully in an earnest, open-ended and solution-focused way to gain understanding. Avoid short, direct and purely interrogative questions as those can seem aggressive and geared towards pointing out a flaw as opposed to collaborating on a solution. Also, it’s important to take pride in finding new ways to do something that could potentially benefit everyone. Find win-win scenarios where possible but negotiate give and taken when necessary. Finally, as you come to consensus, it’s important to express gratitude and commend each other for the mutual hard work. Conflict’s awkward to deal with and fixing it requires resilience, fortitude, humility and professional will which is admirable. Celebrate yourself and someone else who can face it, put personal emotions to the side and come to a compromise that serves the greater good.
Join us on September 18th for a 30 minutes webinar presented by AllOne Health’s Director of Organizational Behavior: Maria Zangardi, MS, SHRM-SCP.
Maria Zangardi, MS, SHRM-SCP, Director of Organizational Development at AllOne Health. Maria is an experienced Human Resources Executive with a demonstrated history of developing workplace culture and strategic programs tied to organizational achievement. She has been recognized as a “Top 25 Woman in Business” while serving on community boards focused on diversity, education, commerce, leadership and social services. Maria is a strong operational and project management professional certified through SHRM and HRCI with a Masters of Science degree from the University of Scranton.