I love my noise-cancelling headphones. They are great at screening out miscellaneous noises and distracting conversations. They make air travel much more enjoyable because they help me to focus, relax, and be more productive.
Helping teams tune out the noise is an important task of leaders. Without the noise, the team can focus on what is truly important, make meaningful progress, and feel good about what they are doing.
To take down the noise, do this:
Talk about and align on priorities. Priorities might include things like progress on the customer experience, improved efficiency, or ways to create a wow factor for new hires. Consider making a list of strategic priorities for the year or combine into a memorable theme.
Point out things that are noise to the team. These might include rumors of a company sale/merger, politics (internal and external), blame, and/or things that are outside the control of the team like economy.
Encourage activities that move the team forward on priorities. This can be done through awards/incentive programs, establishing meaningful tracking metrics, and meetings focused on what is most important.
When noise is low, the environment will feel harmonious and calm. These are good conditions for productivity. And hearing that they are focusing on what matters the most will be music to the ears of your team.