As this famous quote suggests, the human race is no stranger to chaos. Be it our personal or professional lives, we experience chaos at some point in some form, every day. While the word itself has a negative perception, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Chaos keeps us sharp, on our toes and drives us to be more structured in our approach. Organizations working on large projects need to keep the chaos in check to ensure tighter control of outcomes. If not, with so many moving parts, things could head south pretty fast, beyond the point of no return.
Causes of workplace chaos
Lack of Processes
Organizational structures today are complex with the cross location, cross-cultural teams with varied skill sets. These teams need to work in complete synergy at all times for achieving the desired outcome. That synergy is achieved by process excellence. Without well-laid processes, efforts will be directionless, erratic and lead to CHAOS!
Lack of Culture
We have to remember; organizations are made of people. Processes and tools bring people together, but it’s all still very HUMAN! That’s where culture comes in. It is both art and science (Read: Balancing the Art & Science of Project Management). Culture is the lighthouse that guides teams on the journey towards success. Without culture, organizations will have to deal with a disengaged workforce with no sense of purpose.
Lack of infrastructure
For an entire workforce to be aligned to a vision, organizations need technology to support it. Processes will fall apart without the right tools for project management, collaboration, reporting etc. To keep a global workforce productive and aligned to the bigger picture, the technology infrastructure will have a crucial role to play.
Managing the chaos
Showing leadership doesn’t mean every employee will run the organization; that would lead to chaos. Businesses do need someone to set the vision and then lead the team to it.
Leaders need to effectively communicate the strategic vision and organizational goals. They have a huge role to play in keeping the workforce motivated and focused on the job at hand. Leaders need to lead by example when it comes to processing excellence and technology adoption. When employees walk in every morning work knowing exactly how they are contributing to the organization, chaos doesn’t stand a chance. Successful leaders like Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, and Richard Branson have set the bar high when it comes to building high-performance cultures in organizations.
There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.
The manufacturing industry is a classic example of how organizations can make chaos almost non-existent. The key is creating sensible processes and working on continuously improving upon them. Metrics such as productivity heavily rely on the efficiency of the process itself. It is, therefore, a must for organizations to stress on the excellence aspect.
The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
This is an aspect, often taken for granted in organizations. For teams to work optimally, resources need to have the right skills and capabilities. Staffing teams need to ensure they have the right mechanisms in place to identify and hire the right talent. Learning & development organizations need to equip employees with knowledge of processes, tools and needed skills. Human Resources needs to focus on building the right workplace culture; one that encourages and rewards high performance. A company that bets on its people will have people bet everything they have on it.
Chaos never strikes, it is always around. It can only be predicted to some extent and controlled. Organizations, therefore, need to take all the right measure to keep it at bay and focus on successful outcomes. Do let us know what measures your company is taking to manage chaos.