At the bottom of the trough of chaos, people struggle. They are working hard, trying to stay focused and hoping that they are making progress. Day after day old problems come back and new problems present themselves. People can be come pretty burned out by all of it, and start to wonder if trying so hard is really worth it. They question the goals, the strategy, the company and, sometimes, even themselves. The trough of chaos can have a high price.
But when I visit with leaders and their teams, veterans of living through multiple troughs of chaos, I learn one simple and powerful lesson. They have worked hard to support each other through thick and thin. This is not a one time thing, but something that has gradually been built over time. Common language and a common understanding about mission help. Being trustworthy with each other, and building team level trust has taken place because they have defined acceptable group norms and behaviors in alignment with organizational core values. They also have developed a shared mindset, knowledge, experiences, and common identity amongst themselves.
And they haven’t done the above once and moved on to other things, they have done it over and over. They do it whether they are in the trough of chaos or not in the trough of chaos. They have done it when old team members have left and they have done it when new people have joined their team. By supporting each other in this manner, they have created resilience and perspective, which is a powerful combination when working through the trough of chaos in interesting times.
This week, reflect first on whether or not your team role models a healthy level of support for each other. Next, figure out if you can define the team’s shared mindset. If you can not do this, then it is time to build it. And finally, reflect on whether or not your team celebrates the achievement of short term wins at a collective level or an individual level. With this information in mind, sit down with your team and discuss your findings. It could be the turning point for a whole new level of focus and outcomes in your organization.