Running around in circles? Discover a way to stop the craziness!
Mary, an executive manager in a large corporation, reflects on her work experience after leaving a high-level job:
“I can hardly believe how caught up I got in the craziness. I worked 70- to 85-hours a week. Now when I look back at the projects, they seem meaningless! How could I get so wrapped up? Everything seemed critical!”
Signs of Craziness
We’re unable to focus on one thing long enough to get it done. We go from meeting to meeting-scattered, barely attentive, leaving loose ends and confusion in our wake. There’s never enough time. Weeks go by in a blur of activity. We can’t distinguish one day from the next. Everything is urgent. The pressure never subsides. There’s always a crisis that needs our attention. We’re tightly wound, unable to settle down and consider the implication and consequences of our actions.
We Have No Time
We pride ourselves on the number of balls we can keep in the air. A group of exhausted employees asks an executive to prioritize 150 initiatives. He refuses, saying: “Everything is important! If I prioritize thing, the others won’t get done.” We’re overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to do. Yet we rarely feel the satisfaction of seeing a project well done.
To keep things going we delegate to others, but we don’t have time to explain what we need. We don’t have time for our personal lives. Spouses, families and friends are seen as intrusions in our busy schedules.
We can exist in this frenetic state of activity for only so long. After a while we are affected. Layoffs, restructuring, new strategies and changing job requirements leave us numb, depressed and silently discontent. We feel whipsawed and no longer want to play.
Vitality is missing. One research report states that eighty percent of employees feel their jobs are “meaningless.” We feel, “What’s the use? Nothing’s going to change. Why bother?” We bite our tongues-even though a small voice inside of us says, “This is nuts!” We lose our confidence, overwork to prove ourselves, and doubt the value of our contributions. It’s easier to catch the craziness than to try a new way.
Finding a Way Out
To succeed we must make the quality of our relationships as important as our strategies, budgets and schedules. The new bottom line is that we need each other. Complex solutions and fast time-to-market can only be achieved through clear vision and successful collaboration. No one person, group or authority has all the answers. Intelligent decisions require input from many sources, calm discussion of implications, appropriate time to plan, and trust that allows us to implement these decisions.
It takes courage to do things differently. To change the game we must take down the walls between us and create safe environments for people to share their experiences. We need to make it safe for employees to confront their bosses; where business decisions can be challenged; where rocking the boat is expected, honesty is the norm and deep convictions are shared. Honest opinions and relationships are the untapped resource that will help our organization to prosper.
We can start by having candid conversations with co-workers and bosses and asking: “How do we build trust? Where do we need to communicate more effectively?”
To recharge work, we must shuck our psychological armor and start sharing our opinions, feelings, concerns and vulnerabilities. It’s imperative that we build a new kind of workplace that encourages us to take responsibility for each other’s well being. We can find a way out of the craziness by discovering the calm in our connection to each other.
About the Author
Faith Ralston is an expert in leadership and team development and Chief Talent Officer of the Play to Your Strengths consulting group. Faith has 26 years of experience helping leaders improve performance and results. She specializes in dealing with leadership teams and helping everyone contribute their best talents.