What is Attention to Detail and Why Does It Matter at Work?
Attention to detail is what separates a standard employee from a stellar employee. Employers seek candidates who can spot small intricacies to produce thorough, accurate work. It may mean noticing one spelling error in a sea of words or remembering a customer’s mention of an upcoming birthday. Whatever form it takes, attention to detail requires active listening, keen observation, and patience.
How to Assess Your Own Attention to Detail
Use these 5 reflective questions to help you assess your attention to detail.
Do I usually think about the big picture or the details?
If you are a “big picture thinker”, you probably consider an issue by thinking through its main elements, such as what caused the issue and how to address it. You probably generate ideas and are future-oriented when it comes to making decisions. In contrast, a “detail-oriented thinker” is more likely to consider the finer points of an issue and generate causes. Both perspectives can be useful一 which type are you?
Have my previous jobs required attention to detail?
Which of your previous roles, if any, required you to focus on minute features or facts? Perhaps you worked in a kitchen and had to follow the intricacies of a recipe or worked in software development, which required you to spot minor glitches in computer programs. Essentially, all jobs require some level of attention to detail, but if your work was especially dependent on it, you may have already acquired this skill.
What kind of feedback do I typically receive from employers, friends or family?
Self-assessment is often aided by feedback from others. Think about three to five people in your circle who have offered feedback about your attention to detail. Are you known for being thorough and precise or have trusted sources mentioned that your findings tend to be vague or indistinct? If you have not received feedback, it is okay to ask for it.
Do I struggle with practicing patience or does it come naturally to me?
Do you take your time with your work or rush through it? In decision-making, do you take a moment to think through your next step or act quickly? Examining details takes time一the more patience you have, the more time you give yourself to absorb and retain details. Being mindful of your patience level will help you to assess your skill.
Am I in tune with myself?
Human beings are complex creatures. From our emotions to our goals and everything in between, complexities abound! Tapping into your feelings helps to build self-awareness, which enables you to pay greater attention to the anxious tone of a customer or the small sum that is throwing the department budget out of whack. When you ask if you are in tune with yourself, you are also asking if you have the ability to be in tune with the details of your daily life, which includes work.
How to Improve Your Skill
Attention to detail does not have to come naturally to you for you to master it! Build the skill using these three steps:
Active listening is a careful and intentional way to hear people out. Practice this by removing distractions to give your full attention to the speaker, restating the speaker’s main points to check your understanding, and allowing the speaker to finish their thought without interrupting. You can read more about active listening here.
Each week, make time for activities such as jigsaw puzzles, word finds, and crossword puzzles. Each of these requires you to pay close attention and note details. For a more hands-on activity, you can start knitting or sewing to build your skill.
Stay on top of your needs throughout the day to ensure that you can do your best work. It can be as simple as taking a break to stretch or making a list of things you need to do after work. You might be surprised at how checking in with yourself helps you to be more cognizant of the needs of others, honing your attention to detail skill.
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