Do you have some urgent problems in your workplace? Maybe you haven’t started your day yet, or maybe you’re starting your day earlier than the most and haven’t encountered any, yet?
Ask a group of managers if they ever feel like they spend most of their time fighting fires and you’ll likely have a lot of agreement in the room.
Metaphorical firefighting is a common workplace tactic. A tactic deployed day-in and day-out. The phrase, at the end of the day, has a tiring feeling associated with it for the firefighter.
There is also another type of manager. The manager who believes he or she shouldn’t really have any problems. Things should be quiet, work alone, work for yourself, think for yourself, and a lack of questions or challenges means that you’re doing a good job.
Yet, most managers are in place to react to and solve problems in their immediate area of responsibility.
What type of problems seem to get the most attention?
A challenge or problem that isn’t urgent might never be fully addressed. The reason is simple. There is always something more urgent or more costly affecting the business or organization.
How do you know it is urgent? How would you prioritize it, or is it all about the squeaky wheel?
When you enter the meeting what is the small talk?
Hey, how’s it going?
What’s happening today?
Even meeting agenda’s often start with addressing problems. In fact, one of the biggest reasons a meeting is schedule is to tackle some problem, challenge, or to become more prepared.
It seems that most problems are labeled as urgent problems when they first emerge. After some assessment, action is taken, or tackling the problem gets delayed because of complexity or needing additional analysis.
Small fires (metaphorically) are more easily put out while larger ones may continue to rage.
It might be important to consider the use of your energy. Fighting a bunch of small ones may leave the bigger challenges festering and never being fully tackled or resolved.
You need a good strategy first. Then use tactics.
It doesn’t work so well the other way around.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.