If You Always Manage in Crisis Mode, What Happens When There Really Is A Crisis?

In today’s corporate climate, with serious challenges facing companies, crisis management has become something of a watchword. However, a shortfall that many organizations must face is that dealing with crises is business as usual. That’s good, right? Actually it’s not. It’s very, very bad. There are, essentially, only two reasons that a company continually deals with crises…

  1. Proper processes are not in place to proactively handle every day business causing constant last-minute back-ups and the stress of urgency.
  2. It rewards firefighters. If the CEO and top management make a practice of recognizing heroic effort in recovery of a project gone wrong, consistently demanding immediate turn-around on needed projects or information, or ignoring phone calls unless 20 are received in a single hour, the organization will have excellent firefighters.

The reasons that this approach is unhealthy are myriad. Among them are:

  • Rewarding firefighting builds a culture where all levels of management are unable to prioritize. Each one places unrealistic levels of urgency on items causing everyone to scramble to address the.
  • No incentive is in place to systematize processes. If the organization values firefighting, then the employee doing a solid, consistent job will not be rewarded as handsomely as the hero.
  • Team members are likely to fail to look forward into the future at either the consequences of decisions they make or the trends coming down the line. This places the organization firmly in a continuing cycle of responding to rather than planning for upcoming issues or crisis.

In this climate of global crises in financial markets, organizations that do not have the inculcated processes to manage day to day business are likely to have difficulty managing the various offshoots that will impact their business. Managing by crisis caused many negative offshoots in the organization. Those that are left standing after the current round of business busting issues pass will be the ones that are able to manage both daily business and crises that arise appropriately. After all, organizations that reward firefighting, also breed arsonists.