BlackBerry Syndrome: Have you been diagnosed? – Part 1

At a recent class, I asked the students to take a 10 minute break. So what was the first reaction from my fellow students? Was it rushing out the door to get the strongest black coffee ever made? Was it actually looking for nearest exit? Actually no, it was if the class had practiced a routine together for months, as from the moment they heard me say “break”, they all reached for their pockets, pulled out their work phone and begun to check the dreaded work emails.

As a result, nobody actually took an actual break as such, apart from me. So this did get me thinking, was this device increasing the productivity of the individual during the training? if it did, was it coming at a cost though?, in relation to them not being able to be 100% focused on the training.

Some students actually had to keep glancing at their devices during the training, checking for that important email about to come through. I appreciate a training course is a not a holiday but I don’t think it should be seen as a full-on working day either. If we are to offer training, we have to ensure that the employee receives the full benefit and where possible, trying to avoid them getting involved in day-day work issues.

I always make it clear at the start of the class that if people need to take calls or handle work related issues, then feel free to leave the room, but I stress that for your benefit, its important you try to leave those work related issues aside till maybe lunch or after the course. Unless your keen to me again, for a retake for the exam? I didn’t think so!

If an organization wishes to have someone involved with work while undergoing a training session, then they have to accept the risk of the knowledge absorbed and the level of understanding will not be as strong as potentially the person sitting next to them, unless they too also are suffering with the BlackBerry syndrome.

Now, let’s get back to that 10 minute beak. Imagine if you could have utilized those 10 minutes by interacting with the class. A quick ‘chit chat’ near the vending machine waiting for that strong black coffee could have delivered so many benefits. In those 10 minutes by speaking to someone else in the class, you actually could have resolved an issue at work that may have continued to be an on-going issue if you decided to stay glued to your mobile device, and not actually take advantage of that break.

In the next blog we will go through an example of a student taking advantage of a break. Stay tuned!

Hitesh Patel

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