Recently, I have been paying attention to how much multi-tasking I am doing in a day. Most of us would pride ourselves with being able to multi-task—me included. What I am becoming acutely aware of is that although it may feel like I’m being Uber productive and getting loads done, the task at hand and the people involved are losing out in some small way.

Confucius says: ‘The man who chases two rabbitscatches neither’.

Deepak Chopra says: ‘The more consciousness you have, the more potential you have to create’.

The lesson, in short, is when we give single-pointedattention to a task or person, we are more likely to create quality.

Last week, I learned of a training secret an organisation uses for its bar staff employees. They are taught to cut limes behind the bar while simultaneously interacting and smiling at the customer. This ‘lime cutting with kindness’ capability intrigued me.

Let’s be honest, we all struggle, at times, to be fully present with the person in front of us; however, cutting limes with kindness is actually a three-in-one task:

It clears your head of any thoughts.

It allows you to be kind and fully present with the person in front of you

It requires concentration to use a sharp knife and cut accurate sized limes wedges.

Hmmm … my opinion, cutting limes with kindness is not a skill I would teach my staff.

The idea sounds genius. Of course we all want staff to have enough awareness in an interaction to be able to recognise and smile at a customer while completing a task.

The practice is risky. There is an unrealistic impact of trying to be fully present with a customer or colleague while doing another task. You are not present; you may miss opportunities or non-verbal clues that assist you in serving that person; and you may not listen to them fully as you are concentrating on the other task.

The alternative. I would teach my staff to stop cutting limes when a customer comes into my view or a minimum of two meters from my service area. I would then teach them to:

  1. Serve the person in front of them; give them their full attention and treat them with all the kindness they have to give.
  2. Continue cutting limes when they are finished serving that person.

From my own experience, I know that when we multi-task, we miss the little things and cannot possibly be fully there in that moment. In service, it’s the little things that make a service experience feel seamless—every moment matters. This does not happen when we multi-task.

How much of an expectation do we create for our employees to complete several things at once and still give great service to the person in front of them?

Jaquie Scammell

‘Love Being in Service’

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