I think of entrepreneurial attention span as a short continuum that stretches from bored to engaged.
Sometimes you are bored. Sometimes you are engaged. Probably the same way most people feel when reading articles like this on the internet. You keep reading if you are engaged, and you stop reading if the article becomes a bore.
“Bor-e-gaged” is an uncomfortable place to be for an entrepreneurial leader. In this space, you’re not engaged enough to truly focus on the business you’re operating, but you’re not mind-numbingly bored enough to cut the cord and move on. In the middle zone, you’re not yet putting the effort into something new, but you’re thinking about it, and your company is suffering from your lack of engagement.
For entrepreneurs, this can be a typical state of mind to be in. When entrepreneurial leaders are bored, they start thinking about the new ideas that get them excited and engaged again. Then they start to change things within their companies, because they can, even when their organization is doing extremely well.
What about the employees of entrepreneurial leaders?
Employee engagement is a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by—and enthusiastic about—their work. He or she takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.
With constant access to the internet at our fingertips, the minute boredom kicks in ample alternatives to work are staring a disengaged employee directly in the face – time to surf the web! As a result, employee disengagement has a measurable cost to a company’s bottom line.
Making things worse, Gallup’s 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, only about one in eight workers—roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied—are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.
So while entrepreneurs shift between being bored and engaged by being more entrepreneurial, their employees shift by becoming less interested and productive.
This information underlines the importance of seeking more awareness of the state of mind of everyone inside your organization. Entrepreneurs need to recognize the difference between boredom and active engagement so that they can manage themselves appropriately for the good of their companies and their future. They also need to recognize when they are furthering the cause of their employees’ lack of engagement.