If you spend more of your time putting out fires than doing your work, you are managing by crisis.

Management by crisis is a phrase used to describe the common problem of allowing unexpected events, interruptions, problems, or emergencies to dictate your priorities and actions.

Effective crisis management is such an important skill to have and of course, use; It is an essential skill of effective time managers, because unexpected things do happen in every business, every day. Sometimes we do need to react quickly to a crisis and contain it before it does more damage. The problem comes when crisis management becomes the routine rather than the exception. If you spend more of your time putting out fires than doing your work, you are managing by crisis.

When crisis management becomes the routine, it can easily lead to what Stephen Covey refers to as “Urgency Addiction.” People that are addicted to urgency, enjoy putting out fires, they like stepping in and solving problems, and their bosses often reward them for doing so. They have no incentive to avoid or prevent the fires, because they get a payoff every time they put one out.

To eliminate the worst practice of management by crisis, you need to take two important steps. First, you must distinguish between a real crisis — which is something important that requires your immediate attention — and other lesser problems, events, or interruptions that do not qualify as a true crisis.

The second key step is to realize that when crisis management becomes the routine rather than the exception, it’s usually pointing to a more fundamental problem that needs to be solved. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “The superior doctor prevents sickness. The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness. The inferior doctor treats sickness.” Don’t just treat the symptoms of the latest crisis, cure the underlying disease and prevent it from recurring. This is most often achieved by applying a system-based solution to the problem i.e. installing a procedure to eliminate the problem forever, rather than a band-aid approach to fix it once. Awareness of how much time in your day (read, ‘your life’) is being lost to ‘Management by Crisis’ is the key to motivating you to spending the initial time to get it right.

Have a great week,

Peter Johnson – The Time Retriever  –  www.timeretrievers.com.au


Peter is an experienced business coach who has been working with over 158 businesses and childcare centres, and thousands of people in his workshops and speaking engagements.

He found that another of the big issues for business owners, is the lack of knowledge and skill on how to employ high quality team members .

He has helped business owners create successful businesses, through first developing their time management skills and then using these skills, plus many others, to grow and develop the critical areas of their businesses.

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