How to Handle a Crisis at Work

How to Handle a Crisis at Work
Depending on your career, every moment of every day can feel like you’re in the middle of a crisis situation. This state of continuous crisis mode can be a great source of stress both mentally and physically. Learning how to handle a crisis at work can definitely help to manage your work environment. So just how do you handle a crisis situation at work?

The first step is to determine whether or not it’s actually a crisis. Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes an emergency. For example, a deadline for a budget report can be considered a crisis. To others, not having any post-it notes or being out of staples may be a crisis. Understanding how to sort out a real crisis, from simply an annoying situation is the first step. Ask yourself, “Does this require your absolute immediate attention?” Are there any consequences to not taking immediate action? If the situation has a low impact, don't make it an emergency.

What is the root of the problem? It’s always tempting to look for the quick fix. Sometimes, however, the quick fix merely puts a Band-Aid on the situation. This quick fix can often result in a worse problem down the road. Take the time to analyze the problem, determine solutions and select the one that best fixes the issue. I’m not suggesting that the problem be ignored, just take a few minutes to determine the best plan of action.

Adjust your expectations of the solution. There is also the flip side to the crisis coin. It’s not always possible to select the perfect solution for every problem. There are times when you have to accept the fact that you may need to adjust your expectations. For example, a sudden procedural change must occur that day and all employees need to be trained. You may need to lower your expectations of 100 percent trained to, possibly, 80 percent trained. Lowering your expectations isn’t always a failure; sometimes that small step backward is needed for the entire project to be successful. Lowering your expectation of a particular outcome can take the situation from volatile crisis, to a more manageable moment.

Learn to be proactive. Crisis is often the result of a situation that could have been proactively handled. The problem, however, was allowed to fester until it has reached a crisis level.

Handling a crisis at work, can often be a challenge. Don’t make everyone else’s crisis your own. Handling situations proactively, and not always expecting the perfect solution, will go a long way in successfully handling any potential crisis.

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