From Career Chaos to Opportunity

Let’s continue to explore the concept of Reinventing Work by acknowledging the chaos and uncertainty that professionals and executives have encountered in the past five years. There is power in acknowledging fears, concerns, and obstacles, so long as your focus shifts readily into productive solutions.

This week at the 8 O’clock Career Club we brainstormed to identify what chaos looks like, how we experience it, and how it impacts our perspective on job opportunity, career transition, job satisfaction, and executing on our career strategy.

How Chaos Looks and Feels

Chaos is messy, confusing, scary, and oftentimes toxic. Companies and leadership teams that operate in chaos create internal uncertainty and often drive away the best talent.

The group shared the following examples of workplace chaos:

  • A long-time employee who was dissatisfied with his progression in the company poisoned his relationships with new hires with incessant complaining, thus creating a toxic workplace
  • A manager was insecure about her level of control and impeded company growth by making self-serving decisions
  • A rising marketing professional was asked to share her goals with her boss, and was surprised to learn she had been measured against a set of objectives her boss had never communicated

Many of you felt the rug was pulled out from under you when a company was acquired, a new boss fired whole teams, or as a result of the economic downturn.

Opportunity Can be Found in Chaos

More than one of you pointed out that opportunity can be found in chaos. So we brainstormed next on what opportunity looks like. (That way, you can recognize opportunity instead of letting it pass you by!)

What you shared was that opportunity comes from defining your career direction, and setting about finding work by having a weekly, structured plan attuned to today’s job market.

Opportunity, we agreed, means focusing your energy on work that features many of these traits:

  • Defined goals and objectives (career goals and workplace goals)
  • Openness to new ideas
  • Innovation and flexibility
  • Willingness to get out of your comfort zone
  • Being gutsy and courageous; taking smart risks
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Self-discipline to execute on strategy

When you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos of today’s job market and frustrated by your job search, how can you shift into creating opportunity? Next: Strategies for Taming Career Chaos