T4T - Minimizing and Managing Chaos

Minimizing and Managing Chaos in the Workplace 

At some point, most of us will experience chaos at work. We were inspired by a the response to a question posted on the Chicago chapter of American Society for Training & Development (CCASTD) in which the question was posed for suggestions toward the managing the madness when chaos strikes in the office.

The following response was posted by Wayne Turmel:

One of the wisest things I ever heard was from one of my workshop participants. We were talking about "putting out fires" and everyone kept using the term. One guy finally put up his hand and said, "you know, I was a Chicago fireman for 10 years, and the first thing they teach you in Fire School is that there are 7 things you do at the scene of a fire, and number 5 is fight the fire". That wisdom has stuck with me ever since. Take the time to stop, breathe and really understand what's going on before tackling your action items.

With that advice in mind, following are some actions that may help you avoid chaos:

  • Communication - actively provide inclusive, honest, timely communication; be specific and minimize information overload; provide effective feedback; immediately and directly address personnel issues while listening to any underlying reasons for the problem
  • Attitude - demonstrate a dedicated and positive attitude; encourage needed changes by sharing the vision rather than making threats; center yourself as chaos arises and mitigate immediately
  • Empowerment- encourage decision making and allow others to demonstrate their abilities; provide support; enable each other to build trust and loyalty
  •  Stress - encourage breaks; provide clear and realistic priorities; avoid distractive environments; do not require immediate responses to emails so that the frequency of interrupting one's focus to check emails can be reduced

We encourage you to reflect on the steps you're taking to reduce the occurrence of office chaos. May you avoid interrupting your time and dealing with the after effect of fighting fires.

What other steps are being done to mitigate and manage chaos in your workplace?

~This article written by Holly McDermott

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