Quality Control  




 Concentration and Accuracy:
  Focusing on the Job at Hand

by Gerard I. Nierenberg

Helping Others with Their Concentration
You have the power to eliminate the enemies of concentration that detract from your own performance. You get proper rest, adopt an appropriate pace for the work, eliminate distractions and drum up interesting tasks that might not bore you. Yet which of these performance-enhancing methods can you do for others?

Certainly, you cannot force someone else (except, perhaps, your children) to get enough rest. But you can take steps to eliminate environmental distractions. In many cases, you can also encourage those who work for or under you to take the time they need to do the job right, rather than just doing the job. And finally, you can provide incentives and motivation to stimulate interest.

To improve the job performance of my summer help, I had to supply these students with motivation to stimulate their concentration. I chose a positive approach, similar to that employed by General Motors. I took the students into my confidence and demonstrated the importance of their jobs, showing them how the little details they handled played a critical part in achieving the ultimate objectives of the firm.

Their increased understanding and sense of their own importance in the overall functioning of the office improved their attitudes and performance.

This strategy also allowed me to take advantage of the many creative suggestions they offered.

A lapse in concentration is generally only the immediate cause of error. But fatigue, boredom, haste and distraction themselves are not (unusually) the ultimate causes. Other factors may exert their influence.

Some environments and conditionals, for example, are far more distracting than others. A "sick" office building in which sealed windows prevent fresh air from circulating can create headaches, nausea, high blood pressure and respiratory symptoms.1 Age can also play a part. Haste may result from pressure from above to finish the job to meet a quota or an urgent deadline. And fatigue may stem from family worries or domestic concerns.

1    Amal Kumar Naj. "Squabbles Delay Cure of 'Sick' Office Buildings," Wall Street Journal, 26 October, 1995.

Gerard I. Nierenberg, Negotiation Institute, Inc., 10 East 40th Street,Suite 1308 New York, NY 10016 212.447.0077 fax 212.447.7880 E-mail:[email protected] Web site: www.negotiating.com.

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