When complacency sets root in an office environment, it’s hard to dig out. No amount of stern emails or strongly worded memos will give your team a sense of urgency. Only a culture of Process Improvement will do that.
Forcing your team to rush isn’t healthy urgency. It does far more harm than good. Before you know it, corners are cut on quality control, key meetings are cut short, and client-losing mistakes start to happen.
Here are the 2 kinds of urgency:
- False urgency needs this job done now and then the next job done now. It thinks about the next step and then the next. It doesn’t coordinate with others. It trades aerial perspective for the perspective of those grinding away in the trenches.
- True urgency finds the horizon, and create a map as it charts backwards. It keeps perspective, knowing the goal is urgent but the task is not. It neither hustles nor bustles, but takes correct, coordinated steps, exactly when it needs to.
True urgency is the fuel that drives Process Improvement forward. False urgency is the fast, easy, and costly path that drives your people into burnout.
So how can you create the right culture of urgency? It’s about differentiating good “busy” from bad “busy”, and attracting the people who believe in Process Improvement.
1) Create the Right Kind of “Busy”
Stop measuring your day by hours. Start measuring it by focus. You always have more hours available than you have focus to make them productive. Choose wisely.
Listen to your team. How many times per day do they mention how busy they are? Do they list off what they need to do when you say “hi?” Do they wear their busyness like a badge of honour?
Keeping a business running smoothly is not checking off a list of errands. It’s giving your focus to the processes that matter the most.
Ask your team what was their 1 solid accomplishment that day. If they can’t think of one amid their errands-list of busyness, you need to slow them down so they can be more effective.
2) Attract the Best People
Hiring the people you need, when you need them, is a challenge in every industry. To meet and defeat the challenge, you need to offer something that the other guys don’t. You build your marketing strategy to prospective Clients around your key differentiators; same rules for attracting quality staff:
What are your hiring differentiators?
- Paying more money? This doesn’t necessarily attract the best people- just the opportunistic ones. And it can kill the bottom line like a bullet.
- Reputation? We’re all envious of the companies that everyone wants to work for. But there’s a reason for it, and it’s probably not money.
- Empowering culture? This is the one that matters. Empowering workplaces treat workers like skilled, smart adults. They foster accountability while encouraging people to make smart decisions independently.
A culture of urgency is a culture of listening. It’s a promise to listen, and then backing that up with something more personal than a feedback form. It’s asking your team what’s bugging them, and making good on your share of the solution.
At the heart of it, creating healthy urgency is about encouraging employee engagement. The goal isn’t to “get there” faster, it’s about generating momentum as a team. Rather than letting complacency set in, you can create a dynamic in which accomplishments are shared and celebrated by everyone.