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Training: Freeing Up Intelligence

October 2, 2017

All business need an ongoing staff development training program.  There is a lot of information in the research literature on how to improve productivity, with many ideas and findings not needing to be costly.

The following story demonstrates how external, and internal, distractions can affect work performance.

Imagine sitting in an office located near a railway line.  Trains rattle by several times an hour.  As you try to concentrate the rumble of every train pulls you away from what you are doing.  You need time to refocus, to collect your thoughts.  Worse, just when you have settled back in, another train rattles by.  This description mirrors the conditions of a school located next to a busy railway line and two researchers decided to measure the impact of the noise on the students.  They noted that only one side of the school faced the tracks, so the students in classrooms on that side were particularly exposed to the noise but were otherwise similar to their fellow students.

They found a striking difference between the two sides of the school.  Students on the train side were a full year behind their counterparts on the quieter side.  Prompted by this study noise insulation was installed and that intervention erased the difference and over time students on both sides of the building performed at the same level.

Now picture yourself working in a pleasant, quiet office; minimal disruptions and no trains.  Instead you are struggling with your mortgage and ruminating on your financial situation.  You sit down to focus on your work.  Soon your mind is wandering.  Should we sell the second car?  Should we take out another loan?  These noisy trains of thought are every bit as hard to ignore.  Although the room seems quiet, it is full of disruptions – one that comes from within.  Studies have shown that these internal distractions can diminish IQ by up to 10 points.  Internal and external distractions can adversely impact people’s performance at work.

This shows the importance of giving yourself, and your staff, ongoing professional development and training and keeping up to date with the most recent findings in science.