Time to read: 1 min. 20 seconds.
I was talking with a client recently. Let's call her Polly. (Name changed to protect the innocent.) Polly works for a huge company that for generations has been a bastion of stability and happy employees.
For the past two years, Polly and her team have undergone multiple rounds of layoffs, worked to bridge differing cultures with colleagues from an acquisition, and navigated what sometimes seems like daily emails announcing more departures in upper leadership. They don't know who handles decisions, where to go for funding, or even if their projects will continue to be a priority in six months. They are getting used to their "new normal" and still, it's frustrating and discouraging to do good work in daily uncertainty and chaos.
Does this sound familiar to you? (Keep reading. I'll tell you what to do about it.)
Polly asked me, "will we ever have stability again?" (She knows I spent 5 years in this very environment. We had 3 CEOs in five years. Talk about chaos and ever-changing priorities.)
The answer to Polly's questions is yes... and...
It could be years before the company starts to chug along like a well-oiled machine. It takes a long time to redirect a big ship after a series of tsunamis. The company I worked for started to stabilize after 6-7 years.
In our conversation, Polly and I uncovered 2 excellent strategies for working in, and even thriving in, an ever-changing work environment. With her permission, here they are:
- Every morning, say to yourself, "I choose to be here." The fact is, you decide if you can tolerate the chaos or not. If you keep showing up at the office, you are signing up for whatever the company is dishing up that day. Knowing that you choose to stay is liberating. And, if you choose to go (which was my choice), that is liberating, too.
- Make lemonade. Seriously. Times of change and chaos need leaders - at all levels. Your company needs YOU. In the midst of the confusion are opportunities for you to step up and lead. Polly walked away from our session chanting this mantra:
"Be the thing you are wishing for."
If no one is making decisions, you make decisions. If no one knows the priorities, you set your priorities. You may get it wrong. (So what? Sitting around worrying about the future is not advancing your career or making you happy so what have you got to lose?) More likely, you will shine as a leader and initiator and people will notice.
You've got this.
I hope this helps.
P.S. If you are working in chaos and want to chat about it, reach out to me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.P.S. If you just had drinks with friends who complained all night about the chaos at their workplace, forward this email to them. They can sign up to join us here.