Take Control of a Messy Workplace Situation by Driving Change

Symptom:  You are wondering how you will get ahead at your company, how you can distinguish yourself from the pack, how you can get noticed.  You have tried pushing a few ideas of your own to your boss and your co-workers, but have met with a lukewarm reception so far, and are not quite sure what to do next.

Cure: Find a mess (the biggest one you think you can handle), step in, and take charge of the situation by driving change, sorting out responsibilities, clarifying roles, and getting things back to a smooth state of affairs.

Why it Works:  When a problem or mess arises at work, it is tempting to run away, point fingers, pass the buck, and so on.  But a messy situation may actually be an opportunity in disguise.

In any messy situation, there is always plenty of blame to go around.  Everybody involved could have made different choices along the way, which would have positively affected the outcome.  And anybody could step in, at any time, and try to bring order to the chaos.  But few people do.
Bring Order to a Mess to gain visibility at work.

Times of turmoil such as this are stressful.  This stress reveals the character and nature of the individuals involved in a way that daily work cannot.  The people that most rapidly advance in their career are those that don't pass the blame along.  Rather, they ask the questions "What could I have done differently?  And what can I do now, even though nobody is asking me to?"

The key word here is I.  The ones who advance understand that times of crisis and change are times of opportunity.   In such situations it is easy to gain the visibility and experience that you need to advance your career, if you can bring about some positive change to the situation and seize the moment.

There is another important reason to take charge of a messy situation.  If all parties involved agree that the situation is messy or the system is indeed broken, then all parties will be receptive to change.  It is relatively easy to align people around the idea that we need to "fix what is broken", which is crucial to getting the support you need to enact your change.  So getting involved in the messy situation (assuming you can fix it, of course!) can also a very efficient use of your resources and time.

By contrast, it is hard to convince people to do things differently when there is no crisis -- most people don't want to try to fix things that aren't broken.  Most organizations and people have a natural tendency to keep things the same, with only minor modifications, as long as possible.

People that can step in and take charge are the people that are called upon to lead difficult projects, to turn around failed projects, to take on bigger and larger roles, and so forth.  In other words, they advance their career.  So don't run away from the next mess you find, step in and fix it!  It will go a long way towards advancing your career!

Did you like this tip?  Will you take control of the next mess you find?  Then tell a friend!  Share, Like, Tweet, or Email below!

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