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What is management by crisis?

Management by crisis, or crisis management, is fairly new when it comes to management. So what is management by crisis?

Management by crisis is a management style where everything you do is done in order to avoid crisis. So, in other words it is proactive crisis management.

So what exactly does a manager who is managing by crisis do? Well their typical activities include the following:
1. forecasting potential crises
2. planning how to deal with the crises they forecast

For example, the crisis the manager may forecast is the customer service department computer system crashes. The possible plan to recover from a computer system failure may be to shut the system down for a day, or to install a new system, or they may choose to have everything based online so that should the computers crash, the customer service department need only to get a new computer on a working server to maintain service. There are all sorts of possible options, but the idea is for the manager to have a plan for when crisis strikes.

The idea of management by crisis is best if the organizations have time and resources to complete a crisis management plan before they experience a crisis.

So what does a manager do during a crisis if they manage by crisis?
When faced with a current, real crisis, the responsibilities of the manager would include identifying the nature of a current crisis, intervening to minimize damage and recovering from the crisis, either by implementing a plan that was already in place, or by creating a crisis management plan.

For managers who decide they want to manage by crisis, it may be helpful to take some courses on public relations. Much of crisis management includes using good public relations to recover any damage to public image and assure stakeholders that recovery is underway. So, when managing by crisis, not only have your employment function plan, but your public relations plan as well.

Another idea behind management by crisis is the thought that too many people fall subject to the common problem of allowing unexpected events, interruptions, problems, or emergencies to dictate their priorities and actions. If they have a plan in place, the crisis does not dictate to them, rather they dictate to it.

Unexpected things do happen in every project, and in every business, so having a good crisis management plan in place is important. Having a crisis management plan in place means having the ability to react quickly to a crisis and contain it before it does more damage.

Managing by crisis is not all good. Many believe that managing by crisis is a bad form of management when crisis management becomes the routine rather than the exception. If you spend more of your time putting out fires than doing your work, you are managing by crisis, and thus not managing effectively. So, you need to get rid of your addiction to drama and problems, and learn to focus on avoiding problems, instead of solving them.

So, to be an effective manager, do the following:

First, you must know how to see the difference between a real crisis, which is something important that requires your immediate attention, and other lesser problems, events, or interruptions that do not qualify as a true crisis. Many who manage by crisis look at every hiccup as a crisis, and forget that sometimes there is a twig in the road, and sometimes there is a tree trunk. Know the difference.

Second, learn to recognize negative behavior in yourself. Know when crisis management becomes the routine rather than the exception. If this is the case, it is generally because of a more fundamental problem that needs to be solved. So, as a manager, know how to not just bandage the problem, but cure it. Don't treat crisis after crisis, treat the underlying cause of the crisis.

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