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5 Reasons You’re Causing Chaos.

5 Reasons You’re Causing Chaos in your small business with Henry Lopez. To avoid or fix a chaotic business environment requires multiple approaches, but perhaps nothing is more important than asking ourselves (and perhaps our partners and leaders) if we are the primary cause of the chaos.

Reducing chaos and fostering a more organized and efficient environment within a small business can significantly contribute to its success and make it a significantly more enjoyable business to be a part of.

We are not referring to good chaos – as there are times when some level of chaos is to be expected. We are talking about the consistently chaotic and disorganized work environment that perhaps has become the norm for your small business.

5 Reasons You’re Causing Chaos:

 1 – It’s Your Identity

  • You are a firefighter.
  • You are the business, and the business is you.
  • What do I do if I am not the one doing everything and making all the decisions?
  • You may be thinking “I am the best at sales – only I can bring in the big deals!”
  • Personal Stress and Burnout: Business owners who are stressed or burnt out may make poor decisions, communicate less effectively, and contribute to a tense or chaotic work environment.
  • Maintain a Clean and Organized Workspace: An organized workspace can significantly reduce the level of chaos and contribute to a more productive environment. Expect and demand the same of your team’s work environments like their workshops or production areas.
  • The Broken Windows Theory says that visible signs of disorder and neglect can lead to further crime and antisocial behavior in a particular environment. It suggests that maintaining and monitoring urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime. The theory was introduced by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982 in an article titled “Broken Windows,” where they argued that promptly addressing minor disorders like broken windows, litter, and graffiti could prevent more serious criminal activities.

2 – You’re not great at delegating.

  • You’re Wearing All the Hats, and you won’t let it go!
  • Only you can do it right!
  • You are micromanaging and not empowering your team to make decisions.
  • It’s important, however, to delegate tasks to team members based on their strengths and areas of expertise.
  • Consider outsourcing tasks that are not central to your business operations, such as accounting or cleaning services.
  • Small business owners who try to handle everything themselves can become overwhelmed, leading to mistakes and disorganization.
  • Related Episode 355: 4 Reasons to Delegate
  • Downloads:
    • Delegation Worksheet – Use this worksheet tool to help you delegate effectively.
    • 4 Reasons to Delegate – learn more about why should get better at delegation to help you grow your small business.
      • 1 – Get more done in less time.
      • 2 – Leverage the skills, strengths and great ideas of others.
      • 3 – Develop your team.
      • 4 – Build a small business you can sell.

3 – You’ve created a culture of dependency and chaos.

  • You may be hiring people who will depend on you.
  • Hire individuals who are organized, reliable, and capable of working independently.
  • If you have a high need for information, be careful that this does not become a reason for micromanaging.
  • Do you have team members who feed off chaos? They may prefer chaos because it allows them to be the hero firefighter.
  • Recognizing a culture of dependency in your small business is the first step towards fostering a more empowered and self-sufficient team. Common signs to look for include employees frequently seeking your approval for minor decisions, displaying a lack of initiative, or hesitating to act without your directive. This dependency often manifests in a tendency to turn to you for solutions rather than engaging in problem-solving. If you find yourself entrenched in micromanagement, it’s not only a sign of a dependency culture but also a contributor to it. This situation can stifle the growth and innovation within your team.
  • Another indication of a culture of dependency is the struggle your team might face when attempting to work independently or their fear of making mistakes. This fear can lead to a lack of confidence and resistance to taking on new challenges or adapting to changes unless directed by you.
  • It’s also important to observe the level of stress or chaos that may ensue in your absence; if operations seem to halt or become significantly disrupted when you’re not around, it’s a glaring sign of dependency.
  • Addressing a culture of dependency includes promoting empowerment, where employees feel confident to take initiative and make decisions. Offering training and development opportunities can enhance their problem-solving skills and boost their confidence.
  • Encouraging open communication, delegating responsibilities, and showing trust in your team’s abilities to handle tasks or challenges independently are steps in the right direction. By doing so, you’re not only avoiding a culture of dependency but fostering a more proactive, innovative, and resilient team, which is essential for the growth and sustainability of your small business.

4 – You don’t trust your team.

  • Empower them with the resources they need to perform to a high standard.
  • Provide clear guidelines and standards, and then trust them to do their jobs.
  • If an employee is not performing, deal with the employee, and also review your systems, then fix the cause but don’t react by taking over.
  • Utilize communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams to facilitate better communication among team members, and yourself.
  • Overly controlling every detail and not delegating tasks can lead to operational inefficiencies and may stifle employees’ ability to take initiative.
  • Recognizing trust issues within your small business is vital for fostering a conducive work environment. Micromanagement, a clear sign of distrust, often manifests in overseeing every minor detail and not allowing employees to complete tasks independently. This is closely tied to a reluctance to delegate important tasks due to a lack of trust in your team’s capabilities. Constantly checking on employees’ progress or asking for frequent updates can also signal distrust. Overriding decisions made by your team without substantial reason shows a lack of trust in their judgment. And a lack of open communication, where employees feel their ideas or concerns are dismissed or not considered, reflects trust issues and can hinder the free flow of ideas and solutions within your business. Addressing these signs is a step towards building a more trustful, open, and collaborative work environment, and minimizing the chaos.

5 – You are Managing, not Leading

  • Learning to delegate is part of becoming the leader of your small business, not the manager.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations to your team regarding work standards, deadlines, and behavior.
    • Vision & Mission:
      • If a business owner fails to provide clear goals, vision, or direction for the business, employees may become confused and disorganized.
    • Culture
      • Responsibility and accountability.
      • Resourcefulness.
      • Continuous improvement.
    • Depth
      • What happens if you lose one of your key employees?
    • Systems
      • Implement Systems and Processes: Establish clear systems and processes for common tasks and operations within your business. Document these processes and ensure they are easily accessible to your team. Implement project management tools like Asana, Trello, or to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and projects.
      • Related episode: 242: Small Business Systems
    • Related episode:
      • Episode 460: Conquer the Chaos with Clate Mask
        • Clate Mask is an entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), a sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. He is a national speaker on entrepreneurship and small business success, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy”.
        • “What I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that it’s our ego that drives this and we have a lot of ambition. Most entrepreneurs are very achievement oriented, but that ego also has a fearful side about what we might lose and what we might have to stare in the mirror if we’re not good enough or capable enough to accomplish our goals. And so I believe the source of it all is actually ego born out of fear and out of pride to look a certain way. And those two things I believe are what cause so many entrepreneurs to sacrifice too much either out of fear or out of a desire to show a certain thing or it causes them to, once they’re achieving it, to be addicted to it frankly. And that has, on the surface, it has all of the appearance and trappings of success, but what ends up happening is people get burned out, the entrepreneur, the people around them, and it’s a short-term success that ends up causing big challenges.” – Clate Mask

5 Reasons You’re Causing Chaos – Summary:

  • Periods of chaos in your business are normal, particularly when you are first launching your business, going through a major disruption like losing a key team member, or dealing with a crisis. But prolonged chaos is likely a sign of trouble and not sustainable.
  • Often, we, the owners, or leaders of the business, can be the root cause of the chaos. It’s imperative that we are honest with ourselves and with the state of our business environment and culture and work continuously on reducing the chaos for the benefits of our team, or customers, ourselves, and the longevity of our business.
  • The 5 Reasons You’re Causing Chaos in your small business:
  • The first source of turmoil often stems from our own identity crisis. When we embody the business to an extent where distinctions blur, the resulting stress and burnout not only affect us but echo through our business, creating a disorganized environment that hampers productivity and cultivates chaos.
  • Secondly, our struggle with delegation can become a significant contributor to disarray. A belief that ‘only I can do it right’ leads to wearing too many hats, micromanaging, and eventually, an overwhelmed and disempowered team. This tendency obstructs the natural flow of operations and stifles the growth of both our employees and the business.
  • The third aspect is nurturing a culture of dependency. When employees constantly seek approval for minor decisions or are hesitant to take initiatives, it indicates a dependency culture. This culture discourages problem-solving and inhibits the evolution of a self-sufficient and proactive team.
  • Fourthly, trust issues can magnify the chaos. Overriding decisions, constant checking, and reluctance to provide autonomy are clear indicators of trust deficit. This lack of trust hampers open communication, collaboration, and eventually, the overall morale and productivity.
  • Lastly, the transition from managing to leading is crucial. Getting entangled in the day-to-day management often overshadows the essential leadership role of setting clear expectations, sharing the vision, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Self-awareness is the first step towards unraveling the chaos in our small businesses. By identifying and addressing these aspects within ourselves, we pave the way towards creating a more organized, empowered, and thriving business environment. It’s about fostering trust, promoting empowerment, and transitioning from managing to leading that will steer our small businesses towards a path of growth, innovation, and sustainability.

Related Podcast Episodes:

Episode 460: Clate Mask – Conquer the Chaos

Episode 481: Mike McFall – Growing a Small Business

Episode 355: Four Reasons to Delegate

You can find other episodes of The How of Business podcast, the best small business podcast, on our Archives page.

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