are times when we are so focused on the goal or goals at hand that we block
everything out—everything and everybody.
We search for the light at the end of the tunnel and nothing else
matters to us. We couldn’t be
distracted or pulled away even if we wanted to.
is something positive to be said for people with tunnel vision. They are usually black-and-white folks
with no patience for gray areas.
They are goal-oriented, extremely focused, know what they want, and will not be
deterred. These folks are doers,
attitude and practice may work well individuals who work alone—the artist,
or the professional golfer (Tiger Woods has tunnel vision, bet your life)—but
how does this mindset play out in Corporate America, in the office, dealing
with colleagues in a “team” environment?
Well, if you’re a seasoned professional and have been doing a bang-up
job for the company, the chances are management (if they’re wise) will
leave you alone and let you get the job done.
how should a manager handle the individual—the rookie or those less
experienced—who shows great promise but who’s so focused that he’s inclined to
block out the rest of the world?
The answer: very
gently. Keep in mind that people
with tunnel vision may be a little testy, a little sensitive. They may be working extremely hard and
think they’re doing a great job, but the minute you bring them into the office
their guard immediately goes up.
Your approach is critical to say the least.
to them both formally and informally, and bring up the topic of “listening”
very casually, if at all. The
problem most managers make with people with tunnel vision is that they’ll
immediately talk to the individual about his listening skills.
need to listen more if you want to be a part of this team,” they might begin.
approach. You’ll only alienate the
employee with that statement. It’s
too strong. Take a
gentler approach, and get him talking.
do you like what you’re doing? How
do you see yourself fitting in here?”
employee might talk about his work, his relationship with his colleagues,
what’s not working well, but he’ll talk, and most importantly he’ll give you a
sense of how he sees things. Now,
it’s your turn to listen and takes notes.
him, tell him he has a lot of potential and might be the next superstar on the
team—just like Bill who’s been with the company for ten years and, yes, has tunnel
vision. And finally, very gently
but firmly, offer him some advice on how he might want to tweak an area of his
performance that’s weak.
good manager spots tunnel vision immediately and acts swiftly. They want individuals to be themselves
but at the same time they don’t want to alienate the employee from the rest of
the workforce. Most of the time
the employee just needs a tap on the shoulder, “Hey, Joe, come up for air, I
want to show you something.”
let the weak walls cave in on your tunnel visioned employee. Get involved immediately. However, if the employee with tunnel vision is
doing a bang-up job, my advice is: get out of his way.