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Are Your Managers Distracting Your Employees?

Distractions in the workplace are a common complaint for employees who struggle to get their required work completed on time. Although this is not a new type of problem, it remains one of the most difficult to overcome.

Even though most workplace distractions come from technology, noise, and boundary issues, there is also a bigger problem. This issue is when managers become the distraction that keeps employee productivity at an all-time low.

Wondering if your managers are distracting your employees? Keep reading to find out how to know and what you can do to fix the problem.

What are Workplace Distractions?

Workplace distractions are often the bane of existence for employees and managers alike. This is often the reason why productivity suffers and employees often feel overwhelmed.

These distractions can be anything from background noise in the office, constant emails, technology, and much more. Whatever the distraction is, it is designed to keep employees from getting work completed promptly.

How Do Workplace Distractions Affect Productivity?

Because workplace distractions directly affect the employee’s ability to get work done efficiently, productivity tends to decrease. Because of this, management often sees them as not fit for the position they are in.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that many of the distractions employees face throughout the workday are often created by management or the company as a whole. This is often because of certain expectations and daily responsibilities that can keep workers from doing the work they should be doing.

What are the Most Common Workplace Distractions?

In most workplaces, there are specific distractions that are commonplace and are created by either themselves or managers. Being aware of these distractions should help you to learn why work may not be completed as you would like.


In many workplace environments having meetings is often the norm whether or not there are items to be discussed. Some companies schedule weekly or daily meetings to have them on the schedule because it’s the way it has always been done.

Oftentimes, however, there are some meetings where the information would be better off coming in the form of an email. Meetings are one of the most common distractions from focused work since they often come without an agenda.

person writing in white notebook

Caption: Meetings, while sometimes necessary, can also be huge workplace distractions.

Alt-Text: A man writes on a notepad while sitting at his desk with his laptop open. 


For many companies, email is the number one way that managers and employees communicate with each other. In some cases, the expectation is that you are to respond quickly to emails that are sent so that the other person is not left hanging.

If employees are expected to answer emails as soon as they arrive in their inboxes, it becomes a huge distraction from the work they need to be doing. Since research shows that it takes quite some time to refocus after a distraction, it is difficult to get any focused work completed if they are constantly checking their email.


While technology has been a saving grace for many aspects of workplace production, it can also be one of the biggest distractions. This is often due to the plethora of things you can do with technology that can provide too much distraction to focus on the task at hand.

Whether employees work on a computer or have their smartphones handy, they can become the distraction that keeps them from being productive overall. Between online games, websites, shopping, and online chatting features, many distractions keep people from getting their work done.

Unorganized Work Space

Workspaces that are unorganized can cause another distraction for employees since there are too many items around them. The disorganization can be due to many tasks that they are supposed to be working on all at once, or just that they have not cleaned off their desk.

To get the best productivity, it is important to keep an organized workspace to minimize the number of distractions that exist. When there is next to nothing on your desk, you are less likely to be off task.

Background Noise

Although this distraction is something that often cannot be changed, it can lead to less work being done during the day. If the office is a busy place, you may find yourself distracted by people walking around, phones ringing, conversations, and other noises.

It can be extremely difficult for focused work to be completed when you cannot concentrate due to the noise outside of your workspace. While some people can focus no matter what the situation is, others are distracted more easily.

Multitasking Expectations

Many managers have certain expectations of their employees, which can often lead to distractions in the workplace. Some of these distractions are the expectation of multitasking which can keep employees from focusing on getting work done.

While the ability to multitask is something managers look for in an employee, research shows that it is not necessarily a great skill to have. This is because multitasking leads to more distractions from getting any focused task completed.

Managers Who Micromanage

Another common distraction in the workplace is the manager who is always micromanaging their employees. Employee trust should be one of the most important priorities in a workplace but is one that many managers struggle with.

The idea of needing to make sure that all employees are working and staying focused on their work can lead to one of the biggest distractions of all. When employees have to stop working to explain where they are on a project, it distracts them from completing their work.

Ways Managers are Distracting Your Employees

While most of the distractions in the workplace are part of the normal work environment and are often unavoidable, others can be avoided. These distractions are the ones that are coming from management.

It is easy to say that when a manager is asking for something, it does not classify as a distraction. However, in many of the following situations, most can be avoided to help employees be more productive.

Meetings with No Agenda

One of the most common distractions that management causes is the plethora of meetings that are often called. Many of these meetings could be better communicated through email, however, they end up in a meeting instead.

The worst part of these types of meetings is that they often come without a specific agenda or communication about what the meeting is about. They may call it a brainstorming meeting but have not clearly defined expectations which ends up being just a gabfest.

Email Response Expectations

Another distraction that is often instigated by managers is the expectation that employees are watching their emails constantly. The reason for this is often that they expect a swift response from employees anytime they send something out.

The problem with this expectation is that it is difficult for employees to focus on the task at hand if they are constantly needing to check email. While technology exists so that they are notified when a new email comes through, that in and of itself can distract employees from their focused work.

Constant Check-Ins

Have you ever worked for a manager who was constantly checking in with you about the work you are doing? If so, then you know what a distraction that can be and how it takes you away from the work you should be doing.

While managers have their job to do to make sure that employees are productive and getting prioritized projects completed, checking in constantly often slows them down. These check-ins also send a message to employees that you do not trust them to get their work done.

A man gives a seminar to a bunch of employees about a product.
There are many ways to teach your employees to combat workplace distractions caused by managers. 

How to Combat Workplace Distractions Created by Managers?

Even though you may have a workplace that is filled with distractions, there are things you can put in place to eliminate most of them. Knowing how to combat workplace distractions that are created by your managers, will help you to create a more productive work environment.

Teach Employees to Prioritize Daily

One way to combat distractions in the workplace is to teach employees and managers to prioritize their work daily. This action is more than just knowing in the back of your mind what needs to be done daily.

Actively making a list of the activities or projects that must be completed and attaching a timeline to them each day can increase productivity. When managers become involved in the process, it may help them to eliminate some of the distractions that keep these activities from happening.

Create Communication Guidelines

While communication is the backbone of most companies, there should be guidelines that are in place to eliminate distractions. If managers and employees alike work together to create the guidelines then everyone should be on the same page.

Some guidelines that could be put in place are certain times of the day that are scheduled for responding to emails and communications. This often helps managers know when to expect a reply and employees know that they do not have to answer emails right away.

Block Out Dedicated Focus Time

In light of the many distractions that exist in the workplace, creating dedicated focused work time is something that should be considered. Although most people know that emergencies come up from time to time, this focused time should be protected.

The way to implement this is to take a couple of days a week that everyone in the department agrees is a dedicated time to work. This time should be blocked out and protected by all involved for it to work to eliminate other distractions.

Sync Calendars

Another idea for business owners to use to keep their managers from distracting their employees is to have them sync their calendars. This means that managers should get with individual employees to find out how they schedule their day to keep from interfering with productivity.

Managers who are insistent on daily check-ins with their employees need to know that they are not going to distract from the work at hand. Knowing when it is okay for them to pop in to check in on employees will increase productivity overall.

Teach Managers to Lead by Example

Probably one of the most important ways you can ensure that your managers are respecting their employees’ time is to teach them to lead by example. This means that while they are syncing their calendars for dedicated work time, managers should let employees know when they can pop in on them as well.

When managers lead by example, employees are more likely to feel more comfortable protecting their dedicated work time. This means that they will in turn respect their managers’ dedicated work time as well.

Make it Okay to Say “No”

Employees often have a hard time saying “no” when it comes to additional tasks that they are asked to do throughout the day. However, these additional tasks can be a huge distraction from the work that needs to be done.

It is important to teach managers to coach their employees in the art of saying “no” and that it is okay to do so. If a meeting is scheduled but does not pertain to a certain individual or department, allow them the opportunity to opt-out.

Benefits of Eliminating Workplace Distractions

Eliminating workplace distractions is something that many companies struggle with daily. Knowing that much of the distractions that exist come from management can be difficult to understand, but crucial to eliminate.

The biggest benefit of eliminating workplace distractions, that can be helped, is the increase in productivity that is gained. When employees feel that they are supported and trusted to get their work done, they are more likely to work harder to get their job completed.

This increase in productivity not only helps the company as a whole but can also lead to a better trusting relationship between employees and managers. Because of this, you will likely see employees who are happy with their work and not so overwhelmed.

Ready to Implement Ways to Keep Your Managers From Distracting Your Employees?

When it comes to keeping your managers from distracting your employees, they must learn the most effective ways to do so. This can be done more easily if you instill the importance of building trust between the two parties.

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