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The Dangers of a Black Hole Working Environment

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A good majority of us feel a pit of despair when the alarm clock goes off, telling us to get up and get ready for work. You’re not alone in that anxiety that you feel every morning.

If you dread walking into work because you feel as if you’re entering into a black hole of chaos, you’re not completely wrong. Turns out, there are some similarities between a theoretical black hole and a scientific black hole. Scientifically speaking, a black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light cannot escape. A black hole’s gravitational pull is so powerful because matter (lots of it) has been pressed into a tiny space.

For a healthcare organization doing everything it can to keep its head above water, the black hole phenomenon can be a powerful analogy. Does this description fit your organization? If so, then it’s probably time to ask: Are you creating a black hole working environment at your organization? Black hole work environments can emerge for a variety of reasons, but there are some common culprits. Sometimes black hole work environments develop over time through our habits. When growth has slowly creeped up onto an organization, the adage, “This is how we’ve always done it,” may be plaguing the organization, and its leadership may not even realize it. To be a strong leader, you must be able to spot these issues. As Robby Slaughter said, you must be able to build great professional relationships in order to lead.

dread

© Flickr user JenavieveMarie

Other times, it’s a matter of staffing. Black holes due to staffing occur most often in healthcare organizations in which the effects of being short-staffed have the potential to snowball out of control very quickly. Black hole work environments also emerge with chaos in a department or organization. If a department or organization is not well run, a black hole will appear, compounding stress and disorganization for everyone involved. Regardless the reason, black hole work environments exist because we have compressed so much into a tiny “space” that the light — good attitudes, ideas, productive communication, balance, and innovation — can’t escape the daily madness. When you have a black hole work environment, it can result in dismal outcomes on a variety of levels.

Your turnover will increase

When there’s so much work to be done and not enough people do it all, even your brightest stars will burn out. Those bright stars eventually leave for an organization that can recharge their energy, which naturally leads to turnover among teams.

Your team’s health will suffer

This goes not only for physical and mental health of your team members, but also for the team’s overall health: their ability to work together, support one another, and motivate each other to persevere rather than give up.

Details will suffer

If your work has many detailed, working parts that need keen attention, a black hole work environment will surely result in these details falling through the cracks.

With all of this in mind, is there any hope? Can an organization with a black hole work environment stand a chance of escaping its pull? Yes! And it all starts with recognizing that a black hole environment exists, understanding its origin, and resolving to repair the problems that led to its emergence in the first place. And, if you can one day make the black hole disappear, there is a silver lining. Take a look around your organization and see who has withstood the pressure and chaos. From the dysfunction, some brand new stars just may appear – and they are fantastic potential leaders for your organization.

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Emily Tisdale
Emily D. Tisdale is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Recourse Resource Consulting, a healthcare experience consulting firm based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Emily and her team supports healthcare organizations in achieving sustainable results focused on patient experience, employee engagement, and marketing.
Emily Tisdale

@emdt

healthcare experience leader & author (http://t.co/ZIwmGgC7Tg) | loves: start-ups, patient experience, employee engagement, marketing, speaking + training
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Emily Tisdale
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