Virtually everyone gets interrupted for one thing or another in the workplace. Depending on your position, you may or may not be able to control the who, what, when, where or why of others’ imposition on your time, but you do have choices regarding how you deal with them—and how you interact or interrupt others.
Ask yourself a few questions before you react negatively to an interruption or before you interrupt someone else.
Can it wait? Unless the topic is truly imperative, delay the matter until a mutually agreeable time, such as scheduled meetings or a combined-issue conference. If it can wait, let it.
Identifying the priority of an in-person or telephonic interruption helps determine whether you actually need to interrupt another person’s work flow and concentration. Be respectful of their time, abilities and needs: If you wouldn’t appreciate an unnecessary interruption for the low-priority issue, don’t interrupt others for it. If you do truly need to interrupt, be respectful and apologize for the disruption.
Send an email or enter the item on a “Pending Resolution” list and present it at an appropriate time.
Whenever possible, address the issue in someone else’s office area. When the conference ends, depart to resume your own work. Getting an individual or a group to leave after a meeting can be difficult, noisy or slow. Instead, choosing another area allows you to leave that area and return to a quieter, more controlled atmosphere that grants you a faster refocus time to get your own work completed.
Having or using an open door policy is terrific, but when constantly being barraged by interruptions or causing them, your own work flow and that of the interrupted person will be sporadic and less than stellar. Institute a set time for interruptions and walk-in conferences. Use your time wisely and effectively and allow the other person to do the same.
There are or will be times, however, when an interruption is unavoidable. Learn to separate the messenger from the message, but train the interrupter to recognize “important” from “wanted now” and to prioritize appropriately.
If you are in a conference and expecting information from another source, let the other person or people know that you might have to allow the interruption before it occurs. You avoid escalated irritation and frustration from the other if you do get interrupted.
If you are a supervisor, allow a daily time for individuals to address issues; allotting the dedicated time can free much more time during your day and theirs to constructive pursuits. Additionally, hold team or department meetings regularly to address team or department goals, problems and accomplishments. Keep those team meetings on point, however. Do not allow them to stray to individual issues and questions.
Refusal or Referral
If the interruption does not pertain to you, let that be known. Refer the interrupter to an appropriate source. If your position allows, don’t accept assignment of responsibility if you are not qualified for it, even if the nature of the interruption is only an answer to a question. If someone else can provide the answer, refer the issue. Don’t provide answers or resolutions that the peer or subordinate can obtain himself instead of taking the easy path and asking you first.
Post by Holly Adams, a writer for Coupon Croc; Visit us for the latest discounts to save on everything you need to increase your efficiency at work; whether it’s the latest gadgets or organization supplies.