Culture of Calm or Chaos?

calm chaos culture Jan 20, 2021

I've been talking with several former colleagues lately, and one of the things we've been talking about is the culture of our organizations. Particularly, whether intentional or not, the type of culture that we have with regard to stress and chaos, and the expectations we have for each other in the workplace, and for ourselves.

I've worked in a lot of different places, and I see some differences in the way that organizational culture impacts the stress and well being of its employees.


In some institutions I've worked in, there's a culture where an immediate response is expected, working extra hours, 60 hours a week, is expected. Sending an email with a request, and walking straight to the person's office with the same request, is a normal expected activity. These expectations and standards doesn't give you time to think, and it doesn't give you time to process. You're constantly being expected to have the answers at the tips of your fingers. That type of culture leads to a lot of stress and overwhelm for people who either aren't prepared for that type of culture, or need to take a little bit more time to process their thoughts and reactions.


On the other hand, I worked for organizations that believed supporting each other was important, and offered a culture of community, working together to find a solution, and giving the space and energy for people to do the work at their own pace.


Both of those cultures, while in the same industry, were amazingly different in how the employees reacted and behaved with each other.


What I take away from those examples, and the folks that I've discussed this with this week, is that as a leader in an organization, we can either strengthen that culture of chaos and stress, or we can be a leader that demonstrates a culture of calm, and community.


Even if your organization has a different culture, being intentional about how you yourself behave, and how you yourself behave with your team, can be really important at creating the culture that you want, and maybe even influencing the rest of the organization.


I won't say that you can always change the organizational culture from one person starting to do something different, but it can reveal to you whether this is really the right place for you to be, or that you're starting to make some changes that other people appreciate and want to be a part of.


Today, I want to encourage you to be intentional about the culture you create for yourself when it comes to a culture of chaos or a culture of calm. Be intentional about how you respond to your team, and how you respond to those above you in the organization, and your expectations for them, because they will reflect on their expectations for you.


If you want to give people time and space to make a good decision, if you want people to work together to resolve an issue, then creating this culture of calm and community is really something that you can influence.