WOW Word-Of-the-Week #359: Fire Drill

June 8, 2011 by  

Fire Drill – last minute panic to meet a deadline due to poor planning.

Do you know people whose life is full of fire drills? How does it make you feel when you get pulled or sucked into someone’s last minute panic? Are you good at meeting deadlines?

This week’s WOW features more excerpts from the chapter in Chris’ book featuring, “The Six Guidelines I Ask Of My Direct Reports.”

Guideline #6 – No Fire Drills

“We’re all very familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf one too many times. When we act out as the boy in the story we quickly find ourselves being ignored and not taken seriously. When a true need comes along there is nobody around to help us.”

“Our jobs are replete with many loose ends that have to be tied up. These tasks have varying degrees of priority and yet all have to be accomplished. Meeting deadlines tells your boss, “I can count on you”. Your reputation is a building block of your overall character. If you can’t be trusted to deliver the goods someone will always be looking over your shoulder and that means less freedom. There will always be someone who gets in your way. When you create a fire drill you deflect the pressure of having to make a decision from you to me. So, now it’s my problem……because you didn’t get done what I asked you to.”

“Time management, learning how to be more organized (a better word might be personal tidiness) and focus are good places to start. And, of course, procrastination and indecisiveness are our worst enemies. We’re very adept at finding excuses, ‘I was on vacation,’ ‘My alarm clock didn’t work,’ ‘I had a flat tire,’ and so on. Challenge those excuses and take the initiative. There might be a problem with the inability to let go and of course the answer to that is to leverage technology and delegate, delegate, delegate. Keep in mind that this doesn’t negate your being accountable. The bottom line here is do not use delegation as an excuse. ‘My assistant didn’t put the appointment on my calendar’ or ‘My assistant didn’t get it done in time.'”

This week’s focus is to not have any fire drills. If you’ve had them in the past, is there a common reoccurring time or day? Would you agree that most fire drills would be eliminated by better planning? What could you do to be better organized and prepared?

Reader Responses

“That’s two words. . but still funny and great!!!” – xoxo C

“Thanks Susan – I appreciated this email. Sometimes I find I have many fire drills, do you have any books you can recommend to learn how to Time Manage effectively?” – Brenda

“Having worked in the corporate world for the past 30 years, I have seen so many ‘fire drills’ I don’t know where to begin. Usually it has to do with last-minute changes that others want incorporated into a project that has to release ‘yesterday.’ So, whenever we have received the late project, the onus is then put on us to make sure that the project gets out on time. The biggest reason for the delay is usually that the people in charge are not decisive in their work. They go back and forth and back and forth, and when they finally settle on what they want to do the project is late. Fortunately, my group is experienced enough with these people that we will stay late if we have to get the job done. And we do. Personally, when there are things that we have to take care at home, my wife is the one who will panic. Kristen will say that she has so much to do that she does not know when she will get it all done. I always tell her, let’s take one thing at a time and it will all get done. Also, I remind her that if she needs any help with anything to let me know. Usually, we get everything taken care of, with time to spare. As I tell Kristen, it is all in how we act or REact. Many times, Kristen simply REACTS, and that is when the panic sets in. I also remind Kristen that IT GETS BETTER. Great word, Susan. We all have to remember to act, instead of REACTING. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe