How to Maintain Your Personal Productivity in the Face of a Crisis

In some organizations, personal productivity is shredded by a succession of crises. Every day there is another one or two. Some are old ones repeated and some are brand new ones that have never been seen before. If you are to maintain your personal productivity how are you going to handle crises that suck up your time, drain your energy, make you defer your important priorities and leave you exhausted the end of the working day?

The crisis may come round any corner, may involve any person at any level within the organization or any supplier or customer. Whatever the source of the crisis, the outcomes are sadly similar. The crisis will divert you from your important priorities for the day even though an important deadline is getting closer, you, on the other hand, are stuck with the task of resolving the crisis. At this stage, the enemy of personal productivity appears. Murphy. When you are confronting a crisis, your boss decides that there are other tasks that are important. Then, in the middle of the crisis something else goes wrong. This winds up the tension and creates an environment where tempers get shorter and blame is allocated, sometimes in a loud voice.

Management by crisis means reacting to a crisis and dealing with it after it has occurred. The best way of handling crises is keep them from occurring. With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, it is normally possible to see how to prevent it happening again in the future or to reduce the impact of the crisis. A lot of people will say, “But that’s impossible, if I knew it was going to happen I could plan for it.” These same people, have a first aid kit, a spare tire in their car, food in the cupboard as well as an emergency number by the phone. Now, they don’t know when they might need them but you do know there’s a pretty good chance that you will need them at some point. As a result of this knowledge they have taken reasonable precautions.

To maintain your personal productivity it is worthwhile using the same process. You cannot predict when a crisis will occur, but you can minimize the impact by some careful planning. You may even be able to prevent it. Get yourself and your team into the habit of asking, “What could possibly go wrong here?” Then, “If we fixed that, what else could go wrong?” By trying to anticipate what is likely to happen, you and your team are in a stronger position to fix or alleviate the problem quickly. This means that personal productivity will not be damaged to the same extent. Furthermore, it will leave a sense of achievement with the people who have fixed the problem.