Getting Out of Fire Fighting- From Reactive to Proactive Management

In my previous post I shared 7 Strategies to Revive a dying company. In this post I will share the strategies of getting out of fire fighting mode by switching from reactive to proactive management.

For a project management company it’s very important to meet the timelines and complete the project in the stipulated time. If the timelines are not met the company may face severe consequences and to avoid any financial loss many projects managers start work in fire fighting mode and often compromise the quality of the work. So what could be the best management style for a project manager? In today’s post I’ll discuss how to get out of fire fighting by being proactive from being reactive manager.

Managing a project is very challenging as there are many internal as well external factors involved and it’s always difficult to control both the factors. Suppose you are doing a project, say Project A, which is nowhere near completion and your client is not giving you any extension to complete the project and pressurizes you to allocate more resources to complete the project on time. Now the management is forced to bow to your clients’ demands and call people from Project B. You also have timelines to meet for Project B and you are in fix where to focus more as new team will need some time to understand the Project A . In the process the timelines to complete Project B will be compromised. Now to meet timelines of Project B more people has to be called from Project C.

A number of companies fall in this vicious cycle which forces the management to always be in fire fighting mode.Now question arises what is fire fighting? Is it something related to extinguishing fire? Fire fighting is an emergency allocation of resources required to deal with unforeseen problems. In management terms, Fire Fighting is another name of Reactive Management and is defined as reacting to unforeseen problems with a focus to somehow control the situation for the time being. If management has not foreseen or planned to handle the problem these often become hectic, stressful and a routine with no end in sight. Reactive Management happens due to poor planning, bad processes/policies or not fixing the accountability and a Project Manager will never be in able to control a situation.


How can one move to Proactive Management from Reactive Management? Before I explain how to be proactive manager, we need to understand the meaning of Proactive Management. Proactive Management is basically to think ahead, foresee and plan for strategies to address expected as well as unexpected problems.

Following are some simple but Powerful Strategies on How to manage Proactively and come out of Fire fighting mode:

Process Management

Do not take decision on the basis of your experience or intelligence. You may be a blessed manager but everyone is not. Make processes for all the business needs and follow the processes religiously and keep changing dysfunctional processes. A dysfunctional process may trigger a reactive management situation. Do thorough reviews of all the processes and make checklists for each situation. Make your team understand the importance of checklists and how these can help you keep a tap on the proceedings and take corrective measures if something goes wrong

Time Management (Work Prioritization):

Prioritize tasks or activities into urgent or important. Finish the critical tasks first and delegate the important activities. Important activities should be finished before they become urgent and pull you in fire fighting mode again.


Kaizen or continuous improvement is a long term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve incremental changes in the processes in order to improve efficiency and quality. It is responsibility of everyone and not just selected few. Management should be open to new ideas with a focus on the solution. Ask your team members about their opinion on different issues.