Handling chaos in an RPO environment

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Posted by Katie Duffy

July 15, 2013

Sometimes life is just about one big paper towel.  I’ve come to the realization that no matter how much I plan and try to control matters, that life can be very unpredictable and very messy.

My realization hit me hard a few weeks ago.  See, my husband and I planned a relaxing get away.  While gone, I arranged for home cleaning and carpet cleaning and was excited to come back home to all that work being done and allow me extra time to prepare for the week ahead.  But in a matter of truly 60 seconds, all that changed.  The house was clean, the carpets were clean but mix in a hose, mud and a dog and you get --- unpredictable, messy, chaos.

In just little time, the clean house and clean carpets were nothing but mud – wet, drippy mud.  I just looked around, almost numb like and thinking there is just not enough paper towels to help me.

This experience reminded me a movie called Parenthood. Much of the movie is tied to raising a family and searching for that perfect balance and order.



I’ve always been one to believe, that success is depending upon some sort of order and structure.  It just always made sense for me.  But I’m slowly and a bit persistently beginning to understand that chaos can mean different things to different people.  Some view it as negative (me), other view it as opportunity.

Chaos in an RPO environment can mean tight deadlines, unpredictable spikes in volume, or perhaps technology issues.  Our jobs as leaders are to manage the “un-order” and fundamentally bring order back.  But to do this, you need to be willing to change.  You need to be able to accept the volatility and move on – oh and do so very quickly.

A strong commitment to regular communication will keep you on task. Engaging your staff to help solve the problem will create many strong suggestions for improvement. Moving ahead, it’s probably a good idea to ask yourself, “am I prepared for something to go wrong”, “What if this happens?” Always try to be as prepared as possible for, unpredictable outcomes.

Never be too afraid of chaos.  You will need to accept it for what it’s for and learn from it.  So in my case, I learned to fill in the dog holes before I have the house cleaned, and perhaps turn the water off so the 3 year-old doesn’t create a mud pool.

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