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ManageTeam: Does Multitasking always mean efficiency?

when a team member talks up their ability to multitask, do you as a PM take it as a quality trait or a hindrance?
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Ephraim -

I take it as an opportunity to coach them on the evils of unhealthy multitasking. There are a number of great team games which can be used to educate the whole team on that.

For agile teams, I'd also suggest that avoiding multitasking is a good working agreement...

1 reply by Bruce A. Hayes
Jul 27, 2018 3:39 PM
Bruce A. Hayes
I like this. A working agreement should include things to show respect for other and their time.

In a meeting or conversation, saying "I'm sorry. what was it you wanted to know now that you've specifically addressed me?" is not respectful of others. It says listening to you talk is beneath my importance.

Good item to add to my next working agreement!

To some people, multi tasking means doing 2 things at once. This does not work. You cannot sit in a meeting, pay attention to what is happening and check your emails at the same time. It is not humanly possible.
However, if you look at multitasking as being able to quickly shift from one task to another and back, then that not a bad thing and is actually something we do regularly as a project manager.

It said nothing to me.

I think this is a rather useful trait in many situations. If it is necessary to work in parallel with several tasks and projects (and such a need will sooner or later still arise), the productivity of another developer will surely fall, while this guy will continue to work at the same pace. Under normal conditions, when multitasking is not required, this trait still should not interfere with him.

Depends on how you use it. It's one of those terms that gets misused a lot. Generally in an Agile or Lean environment, multi-tasking is frowned upon. I look at it this way: the main task you should be focusing on and not diluting its value by working on something else at the same time, and I agree with this. However, the brain multitasks all the time, both subconsciously and consciously.

Agree with Sante and Dinah's points of view. Team members approaching to multitask can be encouraged as long as it does not impact their primary responsibilities and timeline. PMs do a lot of multitasking.

It is either / or as it depends if they are efficient in both tasks when he multi-tasks or not.

I think we all realize that multi-tasking is an anti-pattern. I have no quandaries about sharing that sediment if anyone showcases their multi-tasking awesomeness.

It depends on the team member and how they manage things. Personally, I prefer not to take the risk if possible.

Multitasking is the art of doing two things at once while ensuring the quality of each thing is worse than it would have been if it were performed alone.

A team member who thinks multi-tasking is helping the project is an active risk to the outcomes. It, therefore, is my obligation to actively dissuade this thought-pattern backed up with evidence and literature showing its potential harm.
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