Are you fighting a lot of fires as a manager?
When a team is in a crisis, it can be challenging to determine what to do. A crisis can cause a number of different problems, including confusion, chaos, and damaging morale. As a result, it can be challenging to make decisions or put plans into action.
In times of crisis, a team can be overwhelmed and lose focus. The team leader may feel stressed and uncertain about what to do. It leads to a loss of confidence and a decrease in productivity.
As a result, fighting fires is a natural occurrence for any manager or leader. But, many managers find themselves constantly fighting fires – fires caused by their employees, fires caused by faulty products, fires caused by external factors. A one-off crisis is acceptable to manage. But when it becomes repetitive, it becomes a challenge. It can be challenging to keep up with the demand and manage all the issues that come up, especially if you find yourself fighting one fire after the other. It feels that you are losing control of the situation and constantly playing catch up. You also feel exhausted after each day, and it starts impacting your mental wellbeing. You feel like giving up.
Has it happened to you? I am sure you would have felt helpless. If you find yourself again in such a situation, you can try the following measures.
The most common reason managers find themselves fighting many fires is low levels of ownership or accountability in their teams. The first and foremost step you need to take is to reflect if your team feels accountable. Building ownership and accountability are complex in teams. But when you achieve it, things become easier to manage. First of all, there are fewer fires to fight in teams with high ownership and accountability. Secondly, even when the fires come up, the entire team stands together to fight them instead of only the manager holding the fort.
How do you build accountability?
The second most common reason managers find themselves firefighting is time management. Managers who manage their time better find themselves fighting fewer fires. Why? Time management brings much discipline to self and the team. So most of the internal reasons due to which crises come are reduced.
With better time management, managers can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed, leading to making poor decisions that could adversely affect their business. Poor time management also often leads to chronic stress, which can negatively impact both the individual and the team.
Moreover, managers can pre-empt and prevent crises faster and better. They have more time to plan and strategize, which leads to better outcomes. When crises happen, they manage them more effectively and without damaging consequences.
If you want to get better at time management, we have a more detailed piece.
Once you have had a look at time management, the next step would be to look at how you set and meet deadlines. Most crises arise out of poorly planned and executed deadlines. Managers who are adept at setting and meeting deadlines tend to face fewer such situations. Why? When deadlines are met on time, it shows that the organization is capable of handling high-pressure situations calmly and effectively. It builds trust and confidence among stakeholders, leading to a reduced sense of crisis and chaos. In turn, this leads to improved performance and more effective response to any crisis. So, if you want your team to handle stress and pressure well, make sure they are familiar with the importance of setting and meeting deadlines.
Setting and meeting deadlines is an art that you can learn.
In essence, if you constantly find yourself firefighting, it is time to stop and think for a moment. You can’t go on like this. Something needs to change, and you are the change agent that can and will change. No one else will change your situation. So what are you waiting for? Get going!