Short-Term Crises Cause Mgrs. to Lose Long-Term Focus

February 3, 2004 ( - It's more of a challenge to think about long-range strategy when you have to continually break off to deal with short-term crises.

That was a key conclusion of recent Accountemps survey, which found that 71% of executives polled reporting that they had to cope with unexpected management fires at least a handful of times each week. More than a third (35%), said they donned their fire caps at least once a day.

The survey by Accountemps, a staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, asked respondents “How often, on average, do you find yourself responding to unexpected crises at work?” The responses:

  • a few times a day, 19%
  • once a day, 16%
  • a few times per week, 36%
  • once a week, 9%
  • a few times per month, 19%
  • once a month, 1%.

“It’s difficult to foresee and proactively address potential crises when you’re caught up in day-to-day demands,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. “A good manager identifies ways to mitigate routine problems and respond quickly to unexpected ones, freeing up more time for bigger-picture issues.”

The poll was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 150 executives – including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments – with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.