Too often, leaders find themselves rushing to address after-the-fact emergencies, rather than driving proactive performance urgency.
Urgency is a positive state that enhances performance, and CEO’s need to aid its creation.
Why businesses need urgency
There are three primary reasons that urgency is needed in any business.
1. Competitive pressure
If a manager is unable to keep forward movement at an urgent pace, it might never be possible to be first-to-market with anything, or provide consumers with the solutions they need, when they need them.
2. Avoiding undesirable situations or consequences
Times of change require urgency. For this factor, picture a management team implementing a change in order to avoid an unwelcome situation or outcome.
3. In response to market demand
This is another ‘changing times’ driver. Urgency must be communicated in order to complete the change in the shortest amount of time.
How to create urgency
Creating urgency must be done correctly to be effective. Let’s explore five ways to achieve urgency:
- Follow examples
- Communicate clearly, effectively, and consistently
- Live it
- Address the naysayers
- Provide incentives and rewards
1. Follow examples
Do not think of yourself as the authority on leadership, especially when it comes to creating a sense of urgency. Study other companies and how they’ve made it happen. Utilize tools that are at your disposal for these exact situations. I’d recommend, Harvard professor, Dr. John P. Kotter’s book: A Sense of Urgency (in the spirit of full disclosure, Kotter and his consulting firm were clients of mine).
2. Communicate clearly, effectively, and consistently
Your team needs to hear clear, directive messages on a consistent basis. They need to know what is happening, why it’s happening, the deadlines for doing their part to help the company get there, and exactly what the opportunities are in the marketplace.
“When people do not see external opportunities or hazards, complacency grows…” John Kotter
3. Live it
Like all things within your organization, management must lead by example. Everyone must be committed daily to performing with a sense of urgency, and leaders set that example for the entire workforce. Anything less will signal to non-management employees that the initiative does not carry the weight or importance they were led to believe. And morale will then take a hit.
4. Address the naysayers
Change management is a very difficult thing and there will, in almost every instance, be naysayers that are next to or completely impossible to get on-board. While it may be difficult, it’s during these times that management must make those hard-hitting decisions to slim down. Do not hide from eliminating employees that could potentially stand in the way of the company’s success.
5. Provide incentives and rewards
Your team want to see the potential in their work. They want to know what their hard work will help the company achieve. So, ensure your consistent communication includes discussion of the rich rewards that are possible in the marketplace, what these mean for the company, and how this will benefit the individual employee.
Design a performance tracking system and provide regular progress updates. Encourage and motivate employees to continue driving the initiative with urgency.
Believe and communicate
“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.” Jim Rohn
What it all comes down to is open, honest, and consistent communication that is lived daily by everyone in the organization. Management must believe in it and be able to bring out the passion in their employees. And, of course, the incentives or rewards must match the effort.