Monday, July 8, 2024

Types of Attention

 Focused Attention

Focused attention is what most people would define as paying attention. This is the type of attention that concentrates on a single task and excludes everything else. This can be done while studying or working on a project. Focused attention is difficult to maintain because it is not a natural human state, and it operates on a physiological level. Constant focused attention actually makes people tired. 

Sustained Attention

Sustained attention is the type of attention that people use to focus on a particular task that takes time. It is also called the attention span. For example, reading a book requires sustained attention. The brain uses sustained attention to process information and adapt to different situations. Problems with sustained attention occur when there are distractions that keep someone from completing the task at hand. Most people need to refocus and return to the task after 20 minutes. There are three stages of sustained attention:

1. Grab attention

2. Keep attention

3. End attention

In order to sustain attention, it is important to remove distractions and occasionally refocus. 

Selective Attention

Selective attention is what people use when they pay attention to a single stimulus in a complex setting. Having a conversation in a crowded restaurant is an example of selective attention. It is not possible to pay attention to every stimulus that surrounds us. The ability to filter out background noise and focus on one object or message is essential when we are consistently bombarded with information. The drawback to selective attention occurs when people disregard what is happening around them.

Alternating Attention

Occasionally people need to perform two tasks that require different cognitive abilities at the same time. These situations require alternating attention. An example of this would be taking notes during a lecture. In order to use alternating attention, the mind needs to be flexible and move between one task and another seamlessly. Alternating attention means that the work on each task is quick and accurate as the brain transitions. 

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, July 1, 2024

Stop Thinking and Pay Attention

Every company and every manager wants to increase productivity. Constant access to information and the expectations to do more with less is overwhelming the workforce. People are easily distracted at work. Attention management allows managers and employees to increase their productivity as well as their personal job satisfaction.  

Attention management increases the ability to focus attention and can be done at the individual and organizational level. Managers are encouraged to deal with their own attention problems before trying to influence employees in their organization. In order to understand attention management, people must be aware of where they focus most of their attention. Most experts divide attention into four different areas or zones. While the names may be different, the ideas are the same. 

The advice to “stop thinking” may seem counterintuitive to attention management. Many people, however, are overthinking everything and focused on the wrong ideas. When we constantly think, we do not pay attention to what is really going on around us. Our feelings control how and what we think. If we think that something is boring, bad, or a waste of time, we tend to give it less attention. For example, people are less likely to pay attention during a meeting if they believe it will not be productive. The ability to pay attention allows people to better connect with the world around them, better process their emotions, and organize the way they process cognitively

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 24, 2024

Keeping Your Balance

Throughout the whole process of becoming a more effective leader and a more effective human being, two tools can help smooth the way. The first is developing a greater sense of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning or while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, write down in a notebook or type into your electronic device a list of five things for which you are grateful. If you keep this gratitude journal every day, it will have a cumulative effect on your keeping a positive outlook.

The second tool’s importance cannot be understated. No matter how much you have on your plate at any given time, it is important that you take the time to play. Whether this is a hobby, such as painting or an activity such as playing video games, make a point of scheduling play time for yourself at least two to three times a week. This will help you to balance out the stress you have in your life.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 17, 2024


Self-improvement is a long-term game, but as you work continuously on improving yourself, it is important to keep certain pitfalls in mind.

  • Do not become overly focused on yourself. This means that you become self-absorbed and self-centered.
  • Another pitfall of working to improve yourself constantly is that you can become overly convinced of your own self-importance.
  • Finally, if you are always working to improve yourself, you may find that you have gotten stuck in this sense that you are never good enough. A better way to frame this is to think that where you are is always good, but that there is also always room for improvement.

When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

  • Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. When you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.
  • Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong, it puts you in a vulnerable position which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act. 
  • Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.
  • Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 10, 2024

You are the Boss of You

The most important habit that effective people can have, whether they lead others or not, is to be proactive. Think of proactive as the opposite of reactive. Instead of having the world act upon you, you take action to make yourself into the kind of leader anyone would follow.

What Kind of Person Would You Follow?

If you have been working on your mission statement and identifying your core values, this question is probably not too difficult to answer. If you understand what you value in yourself and in others, then you can work at shaping yourself into that kind of leader. Keep in mind that developing into the kind of leader that you would follow involves constantly re-assessing where you are in terms of your values, your goals, and your overall mission. The further you go down the path of leadership, the more necessary it becomes to refine your skills and improve yourself. This requires detachment and self-honesty. Being detached means that you are able to dispassionately observe where you are strong and where you are weak. Self-honesty is the capacity to identify personal strengths and weaknesses.


In order to be an effective employee, an effective leader, and an effective person, you must have the capacity to reflect and be aware of yourself. Being self-aware involves multiple dimensions. Taking care of physical needs through exercise and maintaining a good diet are factors in being aware of your physical self. Disciplining your mind through meditation that allows you to manage your emotions effectively is an example of developing your emotional and psychological awareness. You also want to have a good idea of the big picture. Are you satisfied with where you are and where you are going? How would you imagine the things people remember about you match up with your life goals and your mission statement?

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, June 3, 2024

Design Exercises with Specific Goals

Sometimes, you may want to give team members a break from working on their normal projects to meet as a team to improve team morale or functioning. In order to use meeting time and team-building exercises effectively, it is helpful to have specific goals in mind, identify those goals to your team members, and follow up. For example, doing a trust-building exercise after team members are at each other’s throats could be helpful, but if you only do the trust-building exercise one time, after a while, team members may forget the point and lose the benefits they gained. When planning a meeting, identify why the meeting is necessary, and plan an agenda to keep the meeting organized. Sometimes the purpose will be quite simple. Scheduling time for team members to play together can help them to recharge after a particularly grueling project. It can also help them build more rapport with each other. 

What to Avoid

  • When planning team-building exercises, make sure that you don’t undermine your attempt to improve your team. Here are some suggestions: 
  • Make sure that your team-building goals are relevant to your team’s needs so that they are worth taking time away from other work.
  • Make sure that your team-building activities continue on a regular basis, monthly or even weekly to reinforce your goals.
  • While athletics can be fun for many employees, they can also be destructive for team morale, especially if they are focused simply on competition and winning.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Identify Team Roles

Dr. Meredith Belbin identifies nine team roles that can help make up a balanced and effective team:

  • The Plant. The plant is the highly creative and unconventional member of a team. They tend to be strong in thinking outside the box, but their primary weakness is a tendency to be forgetful.
  • The Monitor-Evaluator (ME). This person is good at providing a logical and dispassionate view of the range of decisions before a team. They tend to have difficulties with being overly critical and slow-moving.
  • The Coordinator (CO). This employee (it may be you) helps the team to focus on goals and to delegate work effectively. They might either over-delegate or under-delegate and end up micromanaging.
  • The Resource Investigator (RI). This employee will tend to understand how your team’s work can best translate to the rest of the world. They will be good at understanding the competition and developing connections with others outside and inside the team framework, but they can have difficulties in following up on or getting in-depth information.
  • The Implementer. This role involves someone who is good at taking theory and putting it into practice. They try to find strategies on how to make an idea work in the most efficient manner. Implementers have difficulty considering alternative approaches and may be slow to give up on a favored idea.
  • Completer-Finishers. These team members excel at the end of a task. They make sure everything is functioning ideally. These employees act as a kind of quality control. Their strength -- having high standards -- can also be their weakness, in that they tend to be perfectionists.
  • Team workers (TW). These employees are really good at smoothing over the tensions and difficulties that come up when people are working hard on creative endeavors. They excel at working and playing with others, but they can be indecisive when it comes time to make team decisions about the best course of action.
  • Shapers. These employees act as a kind of engine for the team. They can effectively get others going and create momentum. Typically, shapers are highly-driven and enthusiastic individuals. Their weakness tends to be being overly aggressive and temperamental in their desire to get the team’s work done.
  • The Specialist. The specialist of the group might only know how to do one thing, but they are an expert at it. Their focus is narrow and in-depth, which can be both their strength and their weakness.

An ideal team will be balanced with all nine roles being expressed. Since many teams are smaller than nine people, you may find that different team members excel at multiple roles. When you identify a key strength in one of your employees, for example, an employee who is highly energetic, then you can help them fulfill one or more roles on your team. The energetic employee for example might be good at being a shaper as well as being a resource investigator. Someone who is highly critical can be either a completer-finisher or a monitor-evaluator or both.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP