“Learning effectively necessitates focused, thoughtful discussion and reading, which is impossible in a distracted environment. Interruptions and multitasking are two afflictions that are taking a tremendous toll on employees’ ability to focus, complete tasks, be productive and develop.”

It goes without saying that simply managing information, deciding what merits attention, can seem like a full time job.  Actually focusing on something and acting on it requires something extra.  On top of that you have the pressure of making sense of whatever you determine to be important.

The quote above is from an article that offers some interesting insights on ways learning professionals can help others manage the flow of information.  Below are some excerpts.

According to Cy Wakeman, author of Reality-Based Leadership, learning leaders should have a development plan in place for each of their direct reports and should then delegate with an eye toward each person’s growth potential to allow the employee to foster new skill sets and confidence. They should hold employees accountable for their own development rather than trying to create instances that stimulate work and then spoon feeding their people information. Further, they should bulletproof employees so they can succeed in any circumstances rather than attempting to ensure circumstances are perfect.

When are circumstances ever perfect?  Wise leaders provide opportunities to process information, apply it within the work context, and incorporate it into a framework that will result in professional growth.  In other words, they promote learning.  This is so important because not everything that is worth learning should be delegated to the training department.  The long-term results will be better for everyone.

“Reality-based leaders spend their precious time and energy teaching their employees how to succeed in spite of their circumstances,” Wakeman said. “They work to bullet-proof their people instead of attempting to make their world a cozier place. By focusing on making their people resilient, learning agile and personally accountable, talent becomes immune to the random shocks that come their way. Their engagement actually increases with this approach as they gain the confidence that they can succeed in spite of the facts, not from leaders softening their world.”

Every work day has surprises.  We have very little control over our circumstances.  It is impossible to insulate ourselves from uncertainty.  Instead of trying to create barriers we are better off helping our colleagues manage the daily flow of information.  What is a priority?  What can wait?  What can be delegated?

“Development happens in real time with leaders [who are] mentally present and are challenged, held accountable, receive just-in-time feedback and have opportunity for self-reflection.”

How often does our work life get so frantic that we are not mentally present?  We all know what this looks like.  I’ve been there.  Its usually around a deadline.  My pace quickens.  I don’t have time for conversations.  I eat on the run or skip meals altogether.  I definitely don’t have time to reflect.  Its times like this when I can’t handle surprises.  But they come and must be dealt with.

The article points out that leaders and their direct reports must develop a strategy to manage information flow.  Having a strategy won’t eliminate stress but it will make it easier to function when circumstances are unpredictable and rapidly changing.