If you are a business owner, here’s a newsflash that shouldn’t be a surprise: mobile phones are an epic distraction at work, and costs you buckets of money. Now, I’ve been quoted in the media on this hot topic, and have cited some statistics and solid research in favour of hammering out a policy banning or restricting the use of mobiles.
I stand by the suggestion, but I want to focus on what really might be happening, and because this has to do with the person in the mirror, you may not like it, but you probably need to hear it.
Time is money, and I value your time and attention. For me to drone on about statistics and balance sheets would be no different than one of your employees sneaking off to the bathroom to use their mobile phone. Both are a waste, and because I know what the real score is, I’d be operating in bad faith.
Typically, organisations and global entrepreneurs seek me out[http://tcb.rocks/tcb-entrepreneurs/] for my ability cut through the bull and give them my honest (and often blunt) opinion.
Excess phone use costs money. No doubt, this is a legitimate issue that needs to be resolved by any sensible and competent business owner.
So, as a responsible business owner, you’d run through the following logic: the more time people spend on their phones, the less time they are doing their job, and the less time they are doing their job, the less time they are spent doing the things that makes the company money.
Then, if you caught an employee playing Candy Crush or going on a sudden David Bowie YouTube binge, you might throw the book at them, cite the new company policy, and bark an official warning. Then, this employee would return to work and be productive?
There a hidden cost, and there’s more to the story.
The hidden cost: out of fear of losing their jobs, that employee may not use Whatsapp to order some random birthday present or use Tinder to holla back at their latest, more random match, but you’ll have an employee on edge. As leaders, we must remember that fear is a great motivator, but is also the mind killer.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for a snuggly lovefest. Not my style. Some employees are duds and are toxic to your organisation. Get rid of them. Use fear, or use a thick broom. It doesn’t matter, just send them down the laundry chute.
Also, I’m not suggesting you scrap your company mobile policy. Make it so and plaster it everywhere.
But, for the employees who are not duds, who generally contribute to your organisation in exciting ways, who make you money, but whose mobile seems to be fused onto their hand like a prosthetic, I encourage you to come at it from a different angle.
From one angle, that employee is being lazy or, worse, stealing. That may be true.
Yet, before you accuse them of something, say to yourself, “the story I am creating about this employee is X.” This is a simple lifehack to remind yourself that you are a human, and that sometimes what we “know” as fact can actually be a fiction that we create.
Saying that an employee is lazy or disrespectful is the easiest story to create, and if that story turns out to be fiction, the only person being lazy is you.
In reality, and here is the punchline, this isn’t about mobiles. Before mobiles, it was smoko breaks, and before that it was something else, and something else I’m sure, going all the way back to the cavemen.
It’s about what humans do when confronting a tough mental challenge. When people experience such cognitive strain, shifting focus to something easy (like Candy Crush) is a soothing relief. It’s a bit like an athlete, at the height of the game, running off the pitch to grab a cup of cold water.
As a savvy business owner, you’ve given employees challenging tasks and empowered them to perform, but if your employees are constantly on their cell phones, it may be a reflection of your own internal support systems, and the real “story” is that you could take a closer look at improving team dynamics[http://tcb.rocks/tcb-entrepreneurs/] so that when a challenge occurs, an employee turns to their team instead of their mobile.