Making a drama out of a crisis

Jul 11 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Managers are supposed to be able to glide effortlessly through the crises each day throws their way. In reality most end up dropping something else equally important, going all uncommunicative, working late or tearing about in a stress-induced panic.

More than half of managers say that the only way they can handle crises is by getting stressed and burning the candles at both ends.

To make matters worse, a study of 204 senior executives and managers conducted by NFI Research found that fewer than half lean on other people or try to delegate in an effort to solve the problem.

This inability to shift the burden from their own shoulders means managers often end up getting diverted from leading their teams and organisations, damaging productivity and morale.

The biggest cause of crises to emerge from the survey is customer issues followed by poor communication, internal issues and poor planning.

In fact almost two thirds blamed customers for most day-to-day crises, with poor communication cited by more than half.

Eight out of 10 senior executives and managers said that they handled crises by dropping something else. Almost seven out of 10 simply chained themselves to their desk and worked more hours, while less than half (45 per cent) tried to involved more people.

As one manager polled put it: "The crisis of the day is usually the result of poor planning coupled with poor communication. By the time the crisis comes to me, it is the first I have heard of a situation that should have been communicated days or weeks ago."


Older Comments

This article is interesting and very poignant in these days of high-stress and increased workloads. However it seems to omit another unfortunately not uncommon by-product of such situations: many managers lash out at staff of lower grades (who can't retaliate/defend themselves) in an attempt to off-load their stress. This can turn ugly (I've seen it too many times) and lead to long-term workplace bullying, depressed subordinates and absences/high turnover of staff. I speak from experience.

Katherine Williams