This article is an excerpt from my new book, Getting Shit Done: The No-Nonsense Framework for Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap.
A Sense of Urgency in Strategy Execution
A Sense of Urgency is the feeling that an organization has a pressing need that requires everyone’s immediate and focused attention to help overcome it.
The first obstacle in establishing a Sense of Urgency is ensuring every person in the organization assigns the same level of importance and prioritization to an objective.
Effectively establishing a Sense of Urgency means that all involved clearly understand the shared problem and expectations around strategy execution. Once this happens, the whole organization can gear towards action and recognize that coordinated effort is the only means of survival.
However, remember that the Sense of Urgency relates to strategy-execution efforts that are genuinely urgent/important and require a coordinated effort from multiple people and teams. With that comment, please note that cratering sales would be considered urgent, but a broken coffee machine would not.
📉 Sales= Urgent
☕ 🚫Coffee= Not Urgent
The original pioneer on the Sense of Urgency, John Kotter, has this to say on the topic:
“Far too often, managers think they have found the solution to this problem when they see lots of energetic activity: where people sometimes run from meeting to meeting, preparing endless PowerPoint presentations; where people have agendas containing a long list of activities; where people seem willing to abandon the status quo; where people seem to have a great sense of urgency.
But more often than not, this flurry of behavior is not driven by any underlying determination to move and win now. It’s driven by pressures that create anxiety and anger. The frustrated boss screams, “execute.” His employees scramble: sprinting, meeting, task-forcing, emailing — all of which create a howling wind of activity. But that’s all it is, howling wind or, worse yet, a tornado that destroys much and builds nothing…”
The Sense of Urgency isn’t excitable executives running around like 5-year-olds all hopped up from eating a whole bag of skittles. Go, go, go! Do, do, do! Stop, Go, Stop!
Instead, Kotter’s article explains that the solution to the common complacency problem is to instill an organization-wide Sense of Urgency. Rather than chaos, a Sense of Urgency is a set of thoughts, feelings, and actions built around a purpose. Real urgency is valuable as it focuses the energy of many on critical issues versus scattershot agendas. The Sense of Urgency is built through a deep determination to win instead of fear of losing.
The opposite of the Sense of Urgency that often dooms organizations is complacency. With complacency or false urgency, changes don’t happen fast enough, smart enough, or efficiently enough.
Sense of Urgency in Strategy Execution- From Kotter
“Complacency is a feeling that a person has about his or her behavior, about what he or she needs to do or not do…” What makes complacency especially dangerous is that it is possible to see problems and yet be astonishingly complacent because you do not feel that the problems require changes in your actions.”
A Sense of Urgency is demonstrated by a compulsive determination to do the right things in the right way to achieve strategic objectives at each organization level.
What the Sense of Urgency in motion looks like:
Fast-moving decisions and initiatives that are focused on the critical issue.
High levels of cooperation and teamwork on initiatives.
A spirit of resilience—pushing to achieve more ambitious goals despite obstacles.
Measurable progress on objectives accomplished every day.
Enthusiasm for purging low-value activities.
To demonstrate leadership in your organization in achieving a Sense of Urgency, focus on communicating with energy and passion. Speaking with power and purpose is vital to inspiring others to act.
As a leader, if you communicate with low energy, you can expect to have excuses back on the next deadline instead of results. People can tell whether someone is just echoing the “flavor of the month” change effort or whether they are working on something that they genuinely believe in- shoot for the latter.
Energy + Conviction + Purpose = Sense of Urgency
Keep in mind, though, that everything cannot be urgent. As the protagonist learned in the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” declaring every issue urgent, large or small, neuters the effect altogether.
Work with others to understand the business’s genuine and urgent issues and then communicate well to ensure that each person knows Who has to do What and by When. Done right, the Sense of Urgency can give the people in your organization the superhuman energy and focus required to overcome almost any challenge.
If you’re still skeptical whether the Sense of Urgency is yet another made-up management term, consider that During World War II, when things seemed most desperate, the US and their allies embraced the Sense of Urgency to innovate with astonishing speed and intention.
As the second World War loomed, Britain noticed the Nazi military buildup and the increasing dominance of the Luftwaffe.
As a response, in 1930, the British Air Ministry challenged the aircraft industry to upgrade the technology of their air force by formulating a new fighter that called for a machine capable of 250 mph and armed with four machine guns.
Although every British aircraft company studied the proposal, no changes resulted-The changes were regarded as impossible to fulfill. There was no threat.
However, once war became a reality, change occurred. Britain would not only build more planes but better planes in a more sustainable and economical manner than their German adversaries. The Spitfire and Hurricane won the Battle of Britain and denied the enemy an opportunity to invade the island as a result.
What happens when the Sense of Urgency is missing from strategy execution
Organizations can fall behind their competitors when the sense of urgency is missing from strategy execution. This can lead to some problems, including missed opportunities, lower morale, and even financial losses.
When the sense of urgency is missing, it’s often because leaders are not communicating the importance of meeting deadlines or achieving goals.
This lack of communication can cause confusion and frustration among employees, who may not understand why meeting certain targets are so important. Additionally, getting everyone on board with a new initiative or project can be difficult without a sense of urgency.
Without a sense of urgency, it’s also easy for employees to become complacent and start slacking off. This can lead to a decrease in productivity and quality of work. Additionally, it can create an environment where employees are more likely to make mistakes.
A lack of urgency can also harm an organization’s bottom line. If deadlines are not met or goals are not achieved, it can result in lost revenue and customers. In some cases, it can even lead to legal problems.
Fortunately, there are several things that leaders can do to combat a lack of urgency within their organization.
By clearly communicating the importance of meeting deadlines and achieving goals, they can help motivate employees and keep them focused on the task at hand.
Additionally, setting realistic goals and timelines can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Finally, holding regular meetings to review progress and identify any potential problems can help keep everyone on track.
When a sense of urgency is missing from strategy execution, it can hurt an organization’s ability to achieve its goals. However, by communicating the importance of meeting deadlines and achieving targets, leaders can help keep their employees motivated and focused on the task at hand.
Additionally, setting realistic goals and timelines can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives. Finally, holding regular meetings to review progress and identify any potential problems can help keep everyone on track.
A Sense of Urgency in Strategy Execution
The war might have ended differently or lasted longer without some of these innovations.
Synthetic rubber and oil
Real threats + Energized and focused people = Real results
Why the Sense of Urgency is critical to strategy execution
When it comes to strategy execution, a sense of urgency is critical. This is because the faster you move, the more likely you will achieve your goals. And when it comes to business, time is often of the essence.
There are several reasons why a sense of urgency is so important to strategy execution. First, it helps to focus the team on the task at hand. When everyone is aware of the importance of moving quickly, they are more likely to remain focused and avoid distractions.
Second, a sense of urgency can help to motivate employees. When people feel that they need to work harder to meet deadlines, they are more likely to be productive.
Finally, a sense of urgency can help to prevent problems from arising. If everyone is aware of the need to move quickly, they are less likely to make mistakes that could jeopardize the project’s success.
The bottom line is that a sense of urgency is critical to strategy execution. Without it, projects are likely to stall and goals are unlikely to be met. So if you want to ensure that your team can execute your strategy effectively, make sure that you create a sense of urgency within the organization.
Sense of Urgency– Recommended Reading
How can an organization improve its Sense of Urgency and execution impact?
There’s no question that strategy and execution are critical components of any organization’s success. But how can you ensure that your strategy is executed effectively and that your leadership team drives impactful change?
Organizations can focus on a few key areas to improve their execution, leadership, and impact.
1. Develop a clear strategy- Sense of Urgency
Without a clear strategy, setting priorities and measuring progress will be challenging. Ensure everyone in the organization understands the strategy and buy-in to its implementation.
Firstly, it is essential to have a clear strategy in place. This strategy should be aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives and communicated clearly to all team members.
Once the strategy is in place, it is crucial to execute it effectively. This means having a clear action plan and ensuring that everyone involved understands their role in executing the strategy.
There are a few critical ways that an organization can improve its execution, leadership, and impact. First, it is crucial to establish a clear strategy. This strategy should be designed to achieve specific goals and objectives and communicated to all organization members.
You can boil all strategies down to one of two alternatives:
Do what everyone else is doing (but spend less money doing it), or
Do something no one else can do.
You can’t do both- It’s one or the other. To determine which strategic option to pursue, organizations must have a solid understanding of their core competencies and unique activities, which can be bucketed into the ability to either:
Satisfy a customer’s needs,
Satisfy a customer’s accessibility issues, or
Provide an unparalleled variety of products or services.
If these points are met and straightforward, there isn’t a strategy.
Strategy is a system of activities, not a collection of parts. The best approach to creating a sustainably profitable company is identifying a unique offering and ensuring operational excellence and execution are in place for the support activities throughout the value chain.
To find this sweet spot, an organization’s leaders are critical in defining a company’s strategy by creating a market position, negotiating trade-offs, and then forging fit among activities. The key is to find the sweet spot between where the two concepts overlap; this intersection is known as fit.
Maintaining fit between operational excellence and strategy locks out imitators by creating a robust value chain. Just as with the legendary phalanx formation that we will learn about later, the combination forms a perfect offense/defense.
However, no distinctive strategy can be sustained without a fit among the support activities. A competitive advantage can only come from the unique intersection of strategy and core competencies that fit together and reinforce each other. Fit is especially crucial because discrete activities often affect one another.
Developing a bold but executable strategy begins with ensuring leaders have addressed the questions of “What are we great at?” and “What can we achieve?
It’s not enough to simply have good capabilities; all companies have them, or they can’t compete. A genuinely winning company manages itself around a few differentiating capabilities- and deliberately integrates them.
2. Build an execution plan- Sense of Urgency
Once the strategy is in place, develop a detailed plan for executing it. This should include specific milestones and timelines for each initiative.
Execution means ensuring that work is completed with mastery. Over time, execution leads to operational excellence and consistent higher-quality outputs. High-quality outputs decrease costs and increase productivity by minimizing rework and other non-compliance costs.
As a result, profitability increases as operational excellence delivers products or services to customers efficiently while ensuring high-quality products, services, and support. Operational excellence and execution are not about cost-cutting or minimizing waste but about doing things right all the time.
Maintaining fit between operational excellence and strategy locks out imitators by creating a robust value chain. Just as with the legendary phalanx formation that we will learn about later, the combination forms a perfect offense/defense.
Leadership also plays a crucial role in execution. Leaders need to be able to motivate and inspire their team members to work towards a common goal. They should also provide support and guidance when needed, but ultimately it is up to the leader to ensure that the team is working effectively towards the goal.
3. Improve organizational execution leadership- Sense of Urgency
Strategy and execution require different types of thinking. Strategic thinking is long-term thinking, usually in the context of 3-5 years. Execution thinking is action-oriented thinking, focused on the present or near future.
To close the strategy-execution gap and build operational and professional excellence in our organizations, we must act differently and think differently—approach strategy-execution like a chess master. Never lose sight of the end objective, protect what matters, and be ready to adapt to your opponent and circumstances. Be proactive, prepared, focused, & innovative.
The strategy-execution mindset is about making the best decision possible with the available facts and information and committing to action.
Collaboration is essential in reaching a decision, and deliberation is vital, but there needs to be a cutoff point where people move forward in a coordinated effort. A strong leader intuitively knows where this point lies. A good decision executed quickly beats a brilliant decision implemented slowly.
Look at execution through the lens of the Serenity Prayer- can a leader accomplish the possible, say no to the impossible, and know the difference between the two?
Be proactive and ready to face your challenges. Being proactive means being prepared to act, and being reactive means you’re ready to blame. Look forward, not backward. Anticipate the likely, the unlikely, and the near impossible to avoid surprises. Preparedness will improve the strength of the project.
4. Create accountability and ownership- Sense of Urgency
The leaders of the organization must be committed to executing the strategy. They must have a clear understanding of the strategy and be able to articulate it to others.
People resist coercion much more strenuously than they resist change. Each of us has free will at our core. People will choose to change more readily from the example set by our transformation than by any demand we make of them.
Organizations can spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy forcing compliance, which will be fought every step, OR they can make a smaller but more meaningful investment into the culture to develop ownership.
Hold individuals and teams accountable for meeting their objectives. This will help ensure that the strategy is executed effectively.
Granting employees greater authority and responsibility in performing their work goes a long way to building an ownership culture. Employees who feel empowered are more motivated to solve customer problems and develop innovative ideas for improving their business areas.
Employees will feel more accountable for long-term organizational outcomes when they take ownership, and checks are in place to hold them accountable with a “trust but verify” approach.
4. Communicate regularly- Sense of Urgency
Communication is critical to ensuring everyone is on the same page and aware of progress. Make sure to communicate regularly with all stakeholders.
Not All Communication is Equal is to remember that good communication is conscious communication. You will demonstrate an elevated leadership and ownership level by considering the alternatives and then making the best choice based on the message and the participants involved.
Close the communication loop by defining Who does What and by When to reduce or eliminate costly work delays; it is always a good idea to follow up with any communication effort to be sure that recipients:
Received the message.
Understood the message.
Can articulate back to you Who will Do What and by When.
Being as explicit and transparent as possible in your communication can prevent yourself and others from making assumptions. With experience, execution-minded leaders will improve their communication skills by learning about their people and teams’ preferences towards alternatives.
Those responsible for execution will not bridge the gap between dreams and reality if underlying assumptions are not challenged, or understood, or the limitations are identified. When communication does not clearly state the Who, What, and When, we guess to fill in the blanks.
Don’t assume others instinctively know what to do, when to do it, or what you expect from them. Before people can take responsibility for their work, they require clear communication. The more you communicate, the better you communicate, and the better the results are likely.
To combat assumptions, keep these points in mind:
Clarify high-level strategy statements, separating and organizing goals, objectives, initiatives, aspirations, and strategies. Create a transparent model that helps the organization understand the current strategies and differentiate them from operational improvements.
Then, communicate the milestones and explain what “good looks like” and what “done” looks like. Be careful not to assume that each person knows where the organization is headed and what they must do daily to facilitate it. You must ensure that your audience can clearly explain what is required to guarantee the desired results or reactions.
Capabilities encapsulate the organization’s ability to act through its people, processes, and technologies. In chapter one, Getting Shit Done, we learned that Fit combines a strategy and an organization’s capabilities. Assuming what an organization is capable of or good at invalidates the strategy instantly.
No matter how large or small, every organization requires a core set of capabilities to execute its business model or mission successfully.
To embark on strategy-execution without developing business capabilities asks people to do something new without providing the tools needed to succeed. Instead, document, discuss and share the capabilities and strengths of the organization.
5. Explain the Why to obtain Buy-In- Sense of Urgency
Communication is the tool to win people to your cause. There is a big difference between understanding Who needs to do What and by When and trusting that others develop the internal drive to make it happen.
Not only must the content of the strategy be communicated, but a strategy must also be clearly explained so that employees understand and believe in it.
Employees should believe that the strategy is good for the organization and themselves. Explaining the reasons for a specific change to organizational members increases their commitment to that change.
They must believe in getting someone committed to and acting on a plan. They must believe that buying into a strategy will improve their situation and their organization.
They must believe that not acting is unacceptable and will include consequences. Anything in-between is a lost opportunity. Explaining the Why ensures that each person pulls their total weight and encourages the same from others.
Ask them to determine where your organization stands with buy-in from the strategic communication efforts by assessing whether people understand the Why and believe in the mission.
Facilitating a two-way communication flow is the best way to get your employees on board with the strategy and vision.
Do they care?
Do employees internalize the ambitions of the organization into their values?
6. Create a learning organization- Sense of Urgency
Learning is a powerful and valuable practice that maximizes our potential and value in our professional and personal lives.
Learning delivers fulfillment through new experiences, new ideas, better working methods, and increased satisfaction. Learning and enlightenment are genuinely part of what makes life a joy.
By incrementally adding knowledge daily, anyone can become a leader by learning to overcome obstacles and consistently deliver results through strategy execution. This will lead to additional responsibility, higher compensation, and reaching career goals.
What separates great leaders from everyone is their unique ability never to stop learning.
They are incredibly flexible, quick to adapt to changing conditions and master the skills that help them become influential leaders. They are excited about the possibility of learning a new skill or tool because they don’t compare themselves to others- they compete against who they were yesterday.
Strategy-Execution impact factors
Impact is another crucial factor to consider. Organizations should always look for ways to improve their impact and make a positive difference in their communities.
One way to do this is by ensuring that the strategy and execution positively impact people’s lives. Another way to increase impact is by supporting and participating in community initiatives that align with the organization’s goals.
Finally, the organization must have systems and processes to support the strategy’s execution. These systems and processes should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed. By following these steps, organizations can improve their strategy execution, leadership, and impact.
Conclusion- How can an organization improve its Sense of Urgency?
Why are we still struggling to close the strategy-execution gap?
The real answer is that closing the strategy-execution gap is hard; really, really hard. Building a great organization, attracting and retaining the right people, and building and maintaining excellence throughout an organization are challenges that can’t be solved quickly.
It isn’t one thing or three things that we must get right once. Strategy-Execution is about getting the critical elements right all the time.
Strategy-execution isn’t an objective; it’s a discipline. Like any discipline, strategy-execution depends on an earnest and wholehearted adoption, not choosing sections a la carte that fits best into your worldview. Each block builds upon the others to create a lasting structure.
By focusing on the critical points in this article, organizations can improve their execution, leadership, and impact. Organizations can achieve their goals and make a lasting difference by having a clear strategy, executing it effectively, and positively impacting the community.
It is not always easy to instill a sense of urgency in one’s workforce, which is the conviction that all employees should work at their utmost capacity and their fastest possible pace.
This sense of urgency is vital because a firm leaves itself vulnerable to a rival that is more hungry if its employees do not provide their best effort. It is much simpler to progress toward your objectives when everyone is fired up and working in unison.
Every leader wants their staff to provide their best effort, and this is especially true of leaders who are genuinely enthusiastic about the work they do. When you’ve invested your whole being into a project or organization you care about, it might be challenging to comprehend why others are taking their sweet time getting things done.
According to recent research, an astounding seventy percent of workers report not being actively involved in their profession, which continues to rise yearly. To everyone’s relief, more than one technique to get your workers going again without bringing down their spirits in the process.
What exactly does it mean to have a feeling of urgency at work?
A team with a feeling of urgency works well and clearly understands its overall objective. The team is bound together by a shared goal, which motivates each individual to perform at their highest potential and provide the most influential work possible. Everyone is aware of their place and purpose within the bigger vision.
This may be the best-case scenario for each company, but achieving it might be challenging. It is essential to balance the need to instill a feeling of urgency at work and the need to prioritize the organization’s culture and its employees’ mental health.
The Sense of Urgency Bare essentials
To successfully drive organizational change, creating a feeling of urgency is vital. It encourages workers to be self-reliant, autonomous, ambitious, and willing to act with self-assurance and purpose. On the other hand, other types of workers might require leadership from the outside to have a sense of urgency at work. On the other hand, engaged employees have a natural sense of urgency at work, often formed by an internal sense of personal responsibility.
Those who are not engaged and employees who are actively disengaged have the greatest need for assistance with this. In light of this, how are managers supposed to instill a feeling of urgency within the culture of their teams or organizations?
A manager’s most effective tools for instilling a sense of urgency within their team include setting an example themselves, evangelizing the importance of the task at hand, offering consistent encouragement and laying out clear expectations, and conveying what will occur if the desired results are not achieved.
In addition, it is essential to make individualized efforts to increase morale to achieve the necessary sense of urgency. Some examples of personalized efforts include one-on-one meetings to build buy-in and relevant methods to your team.
This perspective on business can be beneficial in most job functions across levels of seniority, particularly within small or agile businesses. While the term “creating urgency” is frequently used in sales and marketing or the development of leaders, this business outlook can be beneficial in most job functions.
A sense of urgency is instilled in a culture. It can help cultivate more individual results, greater employee autonomy, innovative ideas, and less bureaucracy. This is accomplished by providing each employee self-assurance and the instructions necessary to act ambitiously.
The Sense of Urgency- The book by Kotter
From the beginning, Kotter clearly states that urgency is not synonymous with a bustle or frenetic activity. This is a crucial point.
Urgency, in the sense that he is using it, entails paying constant attention to the shifting terrain within an organization and in the broader world. To determine what aspects are most significant. To focus one’s efforts on the things that truly count.
In one of his anecdotes, he observes, “This man is mistaking the extraordinary quantity of activity for an indication of a genuine sense of urgency.” It is not that. It’s nothing but a flurry of activity.” He argues that actions of this nature undermine a sense of genuine urgency.
He claims that most people would reject the existence of complacency, even though urgency is the enemy of complacency. A genuine sense of urgency is concentrated on the daily completion of an important goal. It is important to note that this is not motivated by fear but is driven by firm resolve.
This emphasis on the sense of urgency is the first of Kotter’s eight phases in his earlier book Leading Change as necessary for effectively leading change. His research findings have identified this essential first step, even though most businesses fall short in this regard. His research shed light on the processes that are genuinely involved in producing a sense of urgency.
The Sense of Urgency- Complacency
A feeling of contentment with what must be done, or on the other hand, a feeling of satisfaction with the status quo, is called complacency. An essential qualification in this context is that those who are the most complacent would vigorously dispute that their conduct can be characterized as complacent.
Instead, they offer justifications that are rational for the lack of action taken. Even if they have a highly uncertain future, businesses can get complacent even if they have a history of success. This is one of the primary factors that lead to complacency.
The Sense of Urgency- Illusion of Urgency
The emotions of wrath and anxiety are at the heart of the false urgency that leads to a flurry of activity but little tangible progress. Because of this rage, there is contention, combat, and a schedule full of meetings.
It is frequently caused by pressure from above, with measures that are not focused on the fundamental cause of the problem or on finding meaningful answers to the problem.
The Sense of Urgency- Red flags
Long studies, task forces, missed deadlines, in-group conflict, personal blame, and a lack of decision-making are warning signs of complacency or a false sense of urgency.
Visions that speak to both the head and emotions bring about change. A successful communication strategy incorporates sharing experiences and possibilities in a manner that is understandable to the audience on both an intellectual and an emotional level.
When the future begins to have significance and attraction to people involved, employees begin to sign up for it.
Why is it so crucial to make people feel the need for change is urgent?
It may be argued that instilling a feeling of urgency in employees is one of the essential drivers of change in a business.
To cultivate an atmosphere that has a feeling of urgency, the employees need to be imaginative, ambitious, and efficient; these are three traits that are essential for driving change.
In addition, a sense of urgency necessitates that workers do their duties with self-assurance and, to a considerable extent, independently expand their autonomy level and improve their ability to optimize processes to achieve superior individual outcomes.
What exactly is meant by “having a feeling of urgency”?
In the context of a business setting, to have a feeling of urgency means to move quickly and to make things happen in a way that is both efficient and successful.
To bring about change, having a feeling of urgency implies performing the necessary tasks without delay, without being prompted to do so, and in a comprehensive manner that is open to you. This expression is utilized in the context of leadership the vast majority of the time, in addition to sales and marketing duties.
The Sense of Urgency- Eroded engagement
Gallup’s 2016 State of the American Workplace Report found that just 33 percent of employees are dedicated to excelling at their jobs. Fifty-one percent of people show up and put in their time, while the other sixteen percent let their dissatisfaction show unproductive ways that negatively impact others.
When you are tasked with leading a group of people through any kind of transition, it is frequently necessary to have the capacity to generate a sense of urgency that may be accepted and, as a result, generate a sense of accomplishment in the group that you are leading.
People more likely to fall into categories two and three are not what transformation initiatives require to be effective. A lack of commitment at any level of the business change can cause unwelcome risk from the very beginning; hence, it is necessary to address this issue promptly and stop it from worsening.
However, skillful leadership is required to bring people from categories two and three into category one.
According to the State of the Workplace study that Gallup published in 2017, most companies in the United States may be categorized into one of three levels of employee engagement.
When managers understand these categories better, they can better assess their employees’ level of involvement and instill a feeling of urgency in those individuals who still require further motivation. The levels are as follows:
1. Employees who are interested in their work -The Sense of Urgency
Employees who are actively involved in their job have a solid emotional attachment to their organization. They are the force behind innovation and the forward movement of the organization.
Employees engaged in their work are enthusiastic about their employment and are committed to improving their company. Because they are concerned about improving their job and environment, they have an innate awareness of the need to act quickly.
They feel a feeling of personal responsibility for their outcomes and the outcomes of their team. Gallup’s research indicates that just roughly one-third of American workers are fully engaged in their jobs.
2. Non- engaged employees -The Sense of Urgency
Employees who are not engaged in their work and have effectively “checked out” are going through the motions of their workday, putting in their time but not their energy or enthusiasm for what they are doing.
Employees who aren’t involved in their work show up only to punch the clock. They carry out the task, but they do it without any sense of vigor or enthusiasm.
Employees not interested in their work typically require a boss who instills a feeling of urgency for them to do their best work. According to Gallup, around 51 percent of American workers may be classified this way.
3. Employees that are not actively engaged in their work -The Sense of Urgency
Employees aren’t merely dissatisfied at work; instead, they are busy acting out their discontent and even hinder the job that their engaged teammates achieve. These employees are said to be actively disengaged.
Disengaged employees despise their employment and seek to ruin the incredible work their engaged coworkers produce. Actively disengaged employees may act in a way that discourages their coworkers from working hard, make their teammates’ duties more difficult, or break things down in various ways.
These workers require supervisors who can interact with them to be productive; otherwise, they should be let go. According to the findings of the Gallup poll, around 16% of working-age Americans are not actively engaged in their jobs.
Have you seen that the individuals responsible for making things happen in our world cherish and share a feeling of urgency? -The Sense of Urgency
Those individuals that stand out from the crowd, whether in the realm of sports, business, or any other endeavor, are the ones who keep a feeling of urgency to be the best that they can be. This is true regardless of the goals that people have set for themselves.
They consciously decide not to detach themselves from what they are working toward accomplishing, and they continue to work toward it despite what others may think or say about it. This is because their sense of urgency is essential to who they are.
Focus on a significant possibility to generate a positive sense of urgency. -The Sense of Urgency
There are fundamentally two kinds of energy that may be found in organizations. One can start momentum correctly when presented with a significant opportunity and keep it going over time.
Based on dread or worry, the alternative may temporarily be successful in overcoming complacency, but it does not develop any momentum or retain it.
Instead, it has the potential to produce a state of panic, which has all the apparent adverse effects, including making people anxious and eventually depleting an organization of the same vitality its leaders hoped to develop.
Both types of energy—urgency driven by opportunities and activity fueled by fears—have been witnessed by each of us at some point.
To put into action any new and different strategy, you need to instill a sense of genuine urgency in as many people as possible; according to the results of all of my previous work and experience, which overwhelmingly point to the fact that to bring about change that is of fundamental significance, you need to involve as many people as possible.
Research has shown that if fewer than half of a company’s leadership and workers feel the same sense of urgency, you are at a high risk of failure.
In addition, I’ve discovered that many individuals frequently confuse anxiety-driven activities with a genuine sense of urgency. But there is a significant gap between the two.
When an individual possesses a genuine sense of urgency due to a huge opportunity, they are physically motivated daily by the notion and emotion of that sense of urgency.
In addition to carrying out their regular duties, they proactively search for areas in which they might be able to engage in behavior that would get them closer to the opportunity. This dynamic is more important than ever in a world that is changing at an ever-increasingly rapid pace.
When a person is motivated by anxiety-driven fake urgency, on the other hand, they may be swamped. This may include attending meetings, producing reports and PowerPoint presentations, and working many hours.
But it is activity, not production, and it also tends to be an activity that is self-protective rather than organizationally significant. Nevertheless, activity is not the same thing as productivity. Simply put, it consists of sprinting with a lot of intensity.
Furthermore, perception and information are filtered in our management-driven hierarchies, so it may be challenging to differentiate between false and genuine claims of urgency. Both of these things are pretty distinct from complacency. Both exhibit a high level of mobility, energy, and initiative.
A knowledgeable executive with good intentions and who sees a significant opportunity may decide to take action while expecting others to share their perspective.
However, because this person acts inside a hierarchical and compartmentalized structure, the assumption that everything is OK and that the necessary momentum rather than fear or panic is growing may turn out to be utterly false. And by the time the truth is revealed, the harm has typically already been done.
What should one do? Cultivating a feeling of urgency concerning a significant opportunity may result in effective and long-lasting action. The possibility must be genuine and unmistakable.
And it has to be articulated and spoken about in ways that people can connect to methods that rely on people’s feelings and intellects and ways that people can empathize.
Keep in mind the phrase “hearts and minds.” No endeavor to effect meaningful change can be successful unless this type of positive energy is at its center.
Four strategies -The Sense of Urgency
1) Invite the outside indoors -The Sense of Urgency
This strategy emphasizes ensuring that businesses maintain a connection with their surrounding settings and do not get overly preoccupied with their internal concerns.
The two components of this strategy are to first connect the internal reality with the exterior opportunities and dangers and then to incorporate “emotionally appealing facts, people, video, sights, and sounds.”
The most important advantage of having an outside focus is that it prevents complacency from setting in. When a company gets access to more knowledge about the outside world and its realities, its motivation to pursue new possibilities increases. Success in the past, which does not guarantee success in the future, is a significant contributor to complacency.
The first piece of advice is to consider the opinions of workers who interact directly with customers, particularly those working in more entry-level positions.
They have direct experience with customers’ responses to the offered items and services. To accomplish this, you must listen attentively and be open to taking in information that might be upsetting or surprising.
The usage of homemade videos is strongly encouraged. This does not need to be an expensive production. It is more powerful when it is just a clip of a client speaking directly into the camera about their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the product.
The human tale, the individual’s dissatisfaction, and the overall background of the client all contribute to this potency. Kotter encourages the usage of video content of this nature frequently and consistently.
The following advice is to ensure that leaders do not protect personnel from distressing facts. Trying to gloss over unfavorable information does not result in any long-term benefits.
The next thing on the agenda is to redecorate. A false sense of contentment is produced as a result of luxurious surroundings. Adding a sense of urgency may be achieved by using subdued furniture and vivid visual indications that work is being done.
The sales department’s staff should not be the only ones going out. Encourage manufacturing, IT, and finance workers to interact directly with customers to gather firsthand feedback on how they feel about your product or service.
Bringing in clients not only contributes information from the outside but also adds information from the inside. An anecdote here is how, over the course of several years, a company’s leadership offsite went from having just internal speakers (100%) to having 35% of the participants be outsiders who had been carefully selected.
Ultimately, this involved the participation of consumers, suppliers, and analysts. In addition to the facts and anecdotes, the corporation received a signal by the mere presence of so many outsiders that indicated they were willing to be influenced by outside factors.
Bring in the data in the appropriate manner. The author observes that most businesses currently possess an abundant amount of data. The data can’t merely be random samples; they must be sufficient.
While doing so, it must not give the impression of being overloaded or overwhelmed. It must be of a size that can be read and processed by the human body. It shouldn’t simply be a number but also intriguing or emotional. You should be willing to discuss it with many people across the organization.
2) Demonstrate a sense of urgency daily -The Sense of Urgency
The term “urgency” is not synonymous with “initiative” or “project.” It’s a way of life. Among the examples, a manager who excels at this task exudes energy, values contributions, and insists on high standards was mentioned. And yet another whose method of gathering is scattershot and whose vitality is depleted due to disruptions, delay, and diversions.
To act with urgency daily, some particular advice for leaders includes clearing the calendar, getting rid of low-priority issues, distributing responsibility, and always finishing a meeting with clarity about who will do what and by when.
Patience is an essential component of this kind of urgent leadership. It’s not a harried, over-scheduled, activity-filled sensation of panic and desperation. Urgency is concerned with the here and now but maintains healthy regard for the future.
3) Possibilities Amidst the Crisis -The Sense of Urgency
Fear is frequently induced amid an emergency. Almost usually more of a heart problem than a thinking one” is the key to successfully motivating an organization to consider prospective prospects.
The most important thing for leaders to do is to engage their staff with enthusiasm and resolve. A successful response has been well prepared, rather than an impulsive response brought on by panic.
As long as a high-level sponsor is involved, these ideas for recognizing opportunities can be created from within the organization.
The presence of a crisis does not automatically generate a sense of urgency in each given situation. It is still necessary to have strong leadership to maintain everyone’s attention on the opportunity. Although leaders may, on occasion, bring about an emergency themselves or allow an existing issue to worsen, so bringing about an emergency is fraught with various dangers.
4) Take Care of the No-Nos -The Sense of Urgency
“NoNo’s” are chronic naysayers who continuously oppose ideas, changes, adjustments to the method, and excitement. In particular, they support maintaining the status quo, which is counterproductive to efforts to shift into a state of urgency.
The most typical strategies for rebutting these naysayers are ineffective, plain, and straightforward.
The first strategy is known as co-optation. It is highly challenging for leaders to persuade followers to go in a different direction if those followers are committed to maintaining the status quo, which stifles both urgency and action.
The second typical method that is used but never succeeds is to attempt to cut the NoNo out of a job. By excluding the NoNos from the discussion, they are free to establish a force for resistance and concentrate their time and energy on corralling the opposition.
Skeptics contribute a vital sense of balance to a discussion; nonetheless, the conduct that distinguishes a NoNo from a skeptic is unwilling to be open to new information. On the other hand, a skeptic is aware of potential flaws, forecasts potential hazards, and is eager to learn more. The data will be taken into consideration.
Three proposed tactics have the potential to be applied successfully by leaders occasionally. The first strategy is to divert the attention of the NoNo by giving them a unique mission. Preferably far away. When they are teamed up with somebody already invested in the path of action, this works the way it was intended.
The second step is to remove them from the organization altogether. Sometimes, a demotion is the best option, but sometimes termination is required. The final tactic is to “immobilize them through societal pressure.” This is accomplished by drawing attention to the behavior in a public setting.
20 tactics to instill The Sense of Urgency
The following list contains twenty different suggestions that may be utilized to assist in developing a sense of urgency.
Develop a method that is unique to you to ratchet up the sense of urgency.
Obtain the input and buy-in of the various stakeholders for the approach.
Refrain from displaying signs of fear, tension, or lack of control.
Demonstrate sound judgment, self-assurance, and speed in decision-making and implementation.
Identify any roadblocks and eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Create a culture centered on the results (instead of task-focused).
Evangelize the significance of developing a sense of the immediateness of the situation.
Make it clear what will happen if nothing is done.
Determine what is successful and eliminate anything that is unsuccessful.
Determine what factors contribute to complacency and how to overcome those factors.
Your body language should convey a sense of urgency. Don’t move about too much.
Inspire others and be willing to assist them. Do not hassle, harass, or threaten the other person.
Discover reasons to celebrate even the most insignificant victories, and make sure everyone knows about them.
Focus on the individual by giving praise one-on-one. Make use of the emotional intelligence you possess.
Agree on when actions need to be taken.
Ensure that meetings are brief, get to the point, and are driven by an agenda.
Get straight to the point immediately and urge others to do the same. Remove any remaining waffles.
You are responsible for meeting your deadlines and should expect others to do the same.
Offer early direction and encouragement to get things started on the right foot.
Appeal to the senses of the individuals. Instead of just talking to them and making them read reports, do both.
Take the reins, rally support, and demonstrate that you mean what you say – The Sense of Urgency
Because a feeling of urgency is uncommon, as Kotter and the Gallup survey both show, leaders must step up and confront this reality. Without a sense of urgency, mediocrity will rule, and effective transformation is not built on mediocrity’s material. Instead, it is an essential component of a failed endeavor.
Most people with difficulty working alone while maintaining a feeling of urgency require assistance. They need support to help them feel accountable and dedicated to attaining their goals, which will kindle a feeling of urgency in their work.
Therefore, leaders ought to push themselves to bring about this shift in the hearts and minds of the people rather than sitting back and asserting that the people around them are not motivated.
The capacity to bring people to a state of active engagement with a feeling of urgency is crucial for highly effective modern-day leaders to differentiate themselves from other types of leaders.
In business, “instilling a feeling of urgency” is frequently a duty thrown onto managers or placed on the company’s people strategy for the upcoming year. But what exactly does it mean to have a “feeling of urgency,” and how can it be generated inside an organization in a way that won’t exhaust the team in question?
The following are a few bits of advice that are associated with this topic: -The Sense of Urgency
Never assume that the people you lead or work with see what you see, even if an issue or opportunity appears clear, glaring, or challenging to miss.
This is especially important if you are in a leadership position. People’s perspectives on the world are constrained by the walls of their silos and the ceilings and levels of the hierarchy they occupy. A few letters or town hall meetings will not alter this situation.
Remember that so-called flaming platforms can sometimes cause more difficulties than they solve. Imagine a busy theater to illustrate this point.
Before yelling “fire!” make sure you’ve thought about the possibility that people will be crushed to death as they try to leave the theater or take into account the fact that even if they do make it out alive, they’ll probably run frantically in ten different directions before collapsing from exhaustion.
Before you yell “fire!” make sure you consider these two possibilities. That type of destructive energy has no place in any organization.
In connection with the second point, it is vital to consider something that psychologists have pretty much proven. Regarding continuous work at a high level, good sentiments are infinitely more successful than negative ones.
Anxiety and fear cause the body to release adrenaline, which keeps individuals going for a short period but soon leads to exhaustion.
The only thing I can say to individuals who believe their companies do not have an opportunity that can generate a genuine sense of urgency is that I have not yet come across a circumstance in which such an opportunity does not, in reality, exist.
When you put together a group of intelligent managers or executives, enable the proper type of conversation for a day, and ask them to come up with a clear and emotionally engaging opportunity statement, they will do it every time.
I’ve seen it and the power that can be produced when you get a bunch of eager employees discovering innovative ways to leverage that concept to inspire enthusiasm in their colleagues and make change happen. I’ve experienced both of these things firsthand.
Sense of Urgency – Conclusion
Maintaining a sense of urgency is difficult since leaders must generate it repeatedly and instill it in the organization’s culture.
This might be very challenging when one has already accomplished their goal because this is the most precarious period when complacency can creep in.
Is the sense of urgency overused?
In recent years, the sense of urgency has become increasingly prevalent in our society. This is evident in the way that people speak to one another, the way that they conduct themselves in public and even the way that they dress. While there are certainly benefits to living in a society where people are always on the go, there are also some drawbacks.
One of the biggest problems with always being in a state of urgency is that it can lead to burnout. When people are constantly on the go, they never have time to relax and recharge their batteries. This can eventually lead to them feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
Another downside to always being in a rush is that it can lead to mistakes being made. When people rush around, they are more likely to make careless errors. This can have serious consequences, both professionally and personally.