Skip to main content

Employees, Your Boss's Smartphone is Really Bumming You Out


Trying to have a conversation with a significant other who drifts off into their smartphone is bad enough, but a new study finds it's equally as bad when the smartphone addict is our boss!

via GIPHY


Um, did you just say something? Yes, you did, but your boss didn't hear it because he or she was too busy "phubbing." Phubbing? It's a word coined from "phone" and "snubbing," and it turns out the average phubbing boss can be almost as pitiful as the parents immersed in their smartphones as their children attempt to talk to them over lunch at a fast-casual restaurant! Paying attention is a conscious decision we make to signal to somebody else that they are worth our time, respect and momentary dedication. Otherwise, we look like this.

via GIPHY


Dr. James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University and author of Too Much Of A Good Thing: Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone?, has been exploring the impact of managerial phubbing on employees. He is finding that managerial phubbing can have the same devaluing impact on employees as it does on somebody who is a romantic relationship with a smartphone addict! According to a terrific piece on Attn.com:

However, Robert's biggest takeaway centered on leadership. "It's particularly important that companies train their supervisors to be very careful in how they use their smartphones," Dr. Roberts explained. "Our study tells us that, if they don't, it undermines employee engagement and productivity which —of course — is everything to a firm's success."

So listen up, leaders. Put the damn phone down and listen to your employees. They are getting tired of sitting alone, together, and it is hurting their attitude and productivity that you are not truly paying attention.

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For?
I remember sitting with a relative at a boisterous family reunion a few years ago. We were having a nice conversation (for about a minute) when she started drifting off into her smartphone more and more, sending text after text after text as I tried to keep the conversation alive. "Uh, huh," she would respond as her fingers flew across the phone's keypad. I got the message, and stopped talking. I gazed at the pretty scenery for a few minutes as I sipped my coffee. My relative and I were alone, together.

It was clear she was no longer paying attention as she held multiple texting conversations, so you know what I did? I got up and left the table without saying a word (she wouldn't have heard me, anyway). I was soon enjoying a conversation with another relative who knows to put their smartphone away when engaged in conversation. (These wonderful people are getting harder to find, unfortunately.)

Of course, this strategy won't work with your manager. So, what can you do? It's not like you can ask them to put their smartphone away and pay attention to you, or belt it out like Adele.

via GIPHY


The best thing you can do is to understand that you are not the only employee in the world interfacing with this highly-annoying communication problem. Unfortunately, it's everywhere. You are not the only employee who is getting scraps of attention from the boss thanks to our societal smartphone addiction that we cannot seem to control when it matters most.

The workplace is also rapidly changing as Generation "what did people do without smartphones?" Z enters the workforce. Millennial and Gen X managers will need to enforce much-needed phone boundaries in meetings, one-on-ones, and other important conversations. "Boundaries" means "Let's silence our phones and pay attention for 15 minutes." No really! We can do this! 3, 2, 1 phones down!

Leaders set the tone here, and must consciously make the decision to put their phones face down on the table (or in their pockets) to signal to employees that what they have to say is important. Don't worry, boss; your buzzing phone will still be there when they finish talking.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…