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Stop Fighting Fires, Fix the Issue

Updated: Mar 29

I admit some days I waste too much time firefighting. I’m not alone; most managers will have this problem.

Putting out fires stops you in your tracks. It sucks up time and energy and can destroy the plans you made for the day. Often it means you’re giving credence to lesser issues, you don’t prioritise properly, and as productivity suffers, awareness of this becomes demotivating. Sound familiar?

Sometimes if the fires are growing, I stop myself and do some simple things to regain control.

  1. Triage. 

This means asking and answering honestly, does it need to be done by me? Does it need to be done now? Does it need to be done at all?

  1. Find the cause.

A temporary solution that’s puts the fire out isn’t any good, you need to get to the root cause. Why has it happened? How do you stop it happening again? Quite often it can be a simple solution, so why leave it?

  1. Delegate the fix.

It won’t help you, or others, if you then try to fix the cause of every problem yourself. More commonly staff are thanked for dealing with fires. It’s better to reward them for fixing the real issue. It works well to identify those with the skills and knowledge and then empower and task them to apply permanent solutions.

It works. Try it next time your day is falling apart.


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