Thriving on chaos

Now that we have spent a few weeks talking about how to survive HR and topics such as how to create job posts that will attract potential employees, where to post them, and how to onboard, lets move into how to best utilize those top-notch employees with good management and strong operations.

I am currently the Director of Operations of a screen printing and embroidery facility that is experiencing huge growth rates.  Over the last three years we have seen 25-50% growth, which is really exciting but it’s also extremely exhausting. We are a small business (15 employees) that has only been in business for about five years.  When I started there were only two employees, the owner and another screen printer.  I started as a part time graphic designer and slowly started adding responsibilities to my position in order to grow the business. I had owned businesses of my own in the past and had a passion for consulting so I slowly started taking over the business.  The owner of the company loves screen printing but has very limited business knowledge or desire to run the business side of things.  For a type-A personality who loves business such as myself the partnership that we have built is ideal.  He gets to do what he loves and I get to do what I love.  The key issue is that we are still small and therefore we have to wear many hats each day.  We don’t have an HR department, we don’t have a book keeper, and we rarely have enough employees to run each day. It is very overwhelming but it is also very rewarding.

I spend every moment of my day answering questions, filling in staffing holes, and trying to keep up with all the tasks that my job entails.  My office is a revolving door of employees and clients with questions that I apparently am the only person who can answer. Every time I think I have enough staffing to take something off my plate someone quits or I have to let someone go.  I make to do lists that I add three tasks to for every one I cross off.  Most of these lists sit on my desk for so long that by the time I get back to them I have no clue what I was even talking about. My brain is in problem-solving overload all day, every day, and at bedtime I have a hard time shutting it down.  I end up working an extra 12 hours just to take 8 off and when I do the whole place seems to temporarily crumble.  By now you are wondering why you should listen to someone who appears to be barely holding it together.  I may be one question away from snapping but at the end of the day I know that I did my best.  I look forward to the next day where I can try even harder to make something better or teach someone something new.  I run myself ragged but I do it because I love it. I love every stressful, frustrating moment of it.

I tell all of my new hires that you really have to thrive on chaos to survive production and although a lot of them think I am kidding, they realize pretty quickly that it’s true.  It’s hectic, it’s stressful, it’s chaotic but at the end of each day we go home feeling tired in a good way because we made insanely optimistic goals and we reached every one of them.

I could go find an easier, less stressful job, but would I feel as fulfilled? I doubt it.  Problem solving is my passion and helping businesses and people grow is what I live for.  I may fail numerous times each day but I learn from every slip. I have a lot of work to do to get a handle on the company and get more organized and I am hoping that together we can do just that. Join me as I improve the processes in my own daily work and hopefully help yours as well.


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