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Teenagers Need Only Apply

“Highly energetic, self motivated individual needed for critical position with fast growing company. Ability to multi-task essential, Microsoft fluency and excellent people skills a must. “

Ever notice how when businesses downsize, more people and dollars go away than actual tasks? Perhaps you found yourself surviving the “cuts” and now straddled with 20-25% more work. The new lean reality often requires the lowest employees to wear multiple hats.

Business values this so much that a new job requirement is the ability to “multi-task.” Ever been around someone in the act of multi-tasking? The activity level is high, and if the person is “blessed” with ADHD, they may even seem to enjoy the pace. If the multi-tasker puts your work at the head of their list, great; but if you are moved aside for the task of the moment, friction, frustration or even anger can occur. The initial euphoria of the new challenges and “growth” opportunity eventually give way to frustration and productivity loss as too many tasks or projects fail to complete or finish with a mediocre result.

Multi-tasking is sometimes confused with cross training. Cross training, a key to continuous improvement, requires both thoughtful planning and a commitment to training individuals upfront. Multi-tasking is a symptom of an organization confusing activity with accomplishment. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is widely recognized as a learning challenge which affects performance. Yet organizations often create situations/positions where they prescribe this challenge as a key to success.

The brother of an inspirational leader understood this and gave some sound advice. He said,” A dual minded man is unstable in all that he does. He is like the ocean waves tossed around by the wind.”[1]. So before sacrificing some of your lean team at the altar of multi-tasking, make sure you plan, train, and reward your team upfront.

The writer was named James, and his inspirational brother was Jesus Christ.

[1] James 1: 6-8

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