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Disorganization impacts all businesses regardless of size but SMEs feel it the most. In a recent survey of SMEs, 23 percent rated their businesses as disorganized, 1 in 3 accepted that disorganization lessens productivity and 75% of owners of struggling businesses believed that disorganization had a negative influence on their results.

What is disorganization? Some of the words that describe ‘disorganized’: messy, chaotic, disjointed, incompetent, shambolic. The reality is that ‘disorganized’ can have different meanings: it can be a failure to set goals, assign priority, have regular meetings with staff, understand, set and meet deadlines, plan strategically, guide and motivate employees, plan ahead.

One of the hardest things is to recognize one’s failings. Nobody is perfect but some of us are more imperfect than others. There are different types of disorganized leaders:

  1. The most common is the ‘fence sitter’ – more common in a larger organization and a master at delaying decisions and not take responsibility for decisions unless proven successful. Colleagues are left in a difficult position often waiting for direction to achieve company goals. Team members are kept in a holding pattern with direct consequences and diminishing productivity.
  2. The second type is the ‘bottle neck’ – work does not flow through to team members. It has the same effect as reducing 3 lanes of traffic into 1. There are numerous reasons for this behavior: fear (job protection), shield (other team members), conceit (nobody else can do this) and incompetence. The result is that it slows everybody down.
  3. The third one is the ‘creator’ – acting and reacting is the name of the game. Excellent at devising ways to cover tracks and present ways or resolving issues ‘on the run’, the creator presents the false image of covering up for others. The result is a never-ending rush to meet deadlines, a repeat of easy-to-avoid mistakes and lack of planning.
  4. The fourth is the ‘hunter’ – always on the hunt for information. Information can be files, reports, orders, emails. There is no limit to what a hunter looks for. Quite often, colleagues will be dragged into the search. Information is lost or not found and re-created. The hunter usually has a cluttered desk, does not respond to emails and other correspondence and generally cannot be trusted with valuable information.

How to deal with a disorganized boss and how to overcome disorganization will be covered in another blog in the near future but there is no doubt that disorganization has a profound impact on businesses of all sizes. Disorganization stifles productivity, has a negative impact on employees and customers alike, harm a company’s reputation and potentially destroys the brand.

If disorganization is a problem in your business, don’t accept it and don’t give up. Everybody has a role to play but recognition from the top is where it all starts.