Oftentimes in our lives, things get a bit hectic. You’re darting from place to place, meeting to meeting, checking things off of your to-do list. This is natural. It’s going to happen from time to time. Going with the flow, and making things happen is what makes you such a force to be reckoned with. But what we need to be careful of, is normalising chaos.
Being busy vs. Chaos
We’re all busy. Everyone is. There’s a lot to do in the day. Just because your days are full (and even stressful sometimes), you shouldn’t be too worried. That’s just the nature of being busy. When chaos begins to creep into our lives though, we have cause to be concerned.
Chaos is defined, simply, as “complete disorder and confusion.” Chaos is when you can’t make sense of what you have to do, you can’t prioritize, and you don’t know what to focus your energy on. Chaos quickly saps your energy, and the energy of those you work with, as you try to figure out what to do next, jumping from one seeming emergency to the next.
Causes of Chaos
Sometimes, we impose this chaos on ourselves. We leave too many things to the last minute; we forget to plan out complicated processes sufficiently; we neglect to find the help we’ll need until it’s too late. But often, outside factors influence, or create, this chaotic experience as well. Some work environments—toxic work environments—impose a sense of chaos on some or all of the employees. In either of these situations, it’s important to identify the root of the chaos, and work to fix it.
Normalising Workplace Chaos
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to categorize chaos, and even more difficult to speak up once you’ve seen it. This leads many people and organizations to normalise chaos. You may have heard someone say, “that’s just how it’s done here,” or “that’s just the way it is here.” Those are generally signs that something is being normalised, when it should be being fixed.
By normalising these high-stress, high-uncertainty environments, we are doing tremendous damage to the potential of our organisations. I say we, because at some level, at some time, it happens in every organisation. But when chaos becomes the default position for your team or organisation, all of the small cracks and faults begin to show, and your performance will suffer. What would normally be a minor miscommunication builds into a major interruption and potential conflict when everyone involved is stressed, on-edge, and on a tight deadline.
What can we do differently?
Rather than brushing off the feeling that things are spiraling out of control, we need to identify where we are going off track, and put measures in place to avoid and minimise disruption. As difficult as it may sound in this type of environment, you absolutely need to slow down and look at the big picture.
Creating a new culture
You yourself, along with members of your team or organization need to reflect on what has happened to create this culture of chaos, and look at what needs to be changed going forward. Examine your organizational structure or hierarchy; audit your communication channels; and develop a plan for how effective communication should take place. In a chaotic and hectic work environment, it may seem impossible to take the time to do this, but it will pay off in the long term. By taking the time to go through this process, you create a solid foundation for growth and scalability; improve the morale of your colleagues; and liberate lost time and resources that had been dedicated to dealing with conflict and miscommunication.
Chaos can become the culture of your company. Culture within an organization is contagious. Bringing in new people doesn’t always solve the problem. When change comes from within, you can create a new culture of coordination, cooperation, and streamlined communication. When other employees, new or existing, begin to see this, they will be happy to shed the old culture and adopt the new. It will be easy to view your new system as a recipe for success—which does wonders for morale and motivation. It takes an impetus to begin that change though.
An objective observer such as a coach or consultant can often help by providing a critical set of eyes that hasn’t been swayed by office politics or ingrained habits. It can be helpful to bring someone in from outside, to help identify where the cracks in your process may be stemming from.
Get in touch today, and start building the culture your organization deserves!