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Much has been said, studied and researched about multitasking and its effect on performance within various settings.

Many have an opinion based on articles read, personal experience or subjective evaluation. What about we change focus for a minute, no pun intended? Instead of analyzing multitasking, why don’t we talk about focusing?

Restlessness is one of the behavior components assessed by the Birkman Method. Birkman describes restlessness as the way in which a person focuses his attention or chooses to change focus and seek varied activities. With Birkman, we assess usual and stress driven behavior, as well as the underlying needs that drive them. Let’s see why this is important.

You may have experience having a team member or colleague that excels and seems comfortable in taking longer to handle projects and tasks. On the other hand, you see yourself completing your tasks as soon as possible and going ahead to the next one. In this case, the colleague shows low levels of restlessness usual behavior, and you present higher levels. You may be more inclined to like a variety of tasks.

Take as another example the fact that it is common in hospitals for staff to rotate through departments. This may be beneficial for some, the ones that have an inclination for alternating tasks, because these employees like to learn new processes and are excited by new ideas and surroundings. For others, this may be a cause of stress. Some employees may like to have the opportunity to prepare for changes or give their input before changes are made. This is not an impediment or an obstacle in their performance; a heads up in the upcoming rotation, or providing feedback on the past and new assignment is all they need.

In the case of hospitals and other health service provider settings, the consequences of not knowing your employees’ restlessness and other behavioral component levels is very dangerous. Stress behavior from an employee with low levels of restlessness needs may arise and affect a patient’s healthcare because the employee may become demoralized or not willing to immediately adjust to a new supervisor or to new demands. On the other hand, a “bored” data entry official might make mistakes that can cost lives.

Effective supervision and professional development programs can help with this very sensitive topic, but really knowing your employees, knowing about their needs and behaviors, is the most fundamental and effective way to achieve overall success. The use of a validated method that provides insightful information while taking into account our differences, and aiming to better understand and design workplace experiences that are beneficial to all, provides a sense of security.

The Birkman Method is now available in Puerto Rico for corporations and individuals. You can contact consultant Alberto Nuñez González if you want more information.

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