Urgency to Drive Progress
The mention of change can often lead to increased anxiety that stifles individual and organizational growth. Explaining the need for progress elicits reactions that are considerably more positive and welcomed. People like the idea of being better and doing better. For progress to occur, the desire to be better should be coupled with an urgency to align actions to the organization’s needs for improvement. It is up to leadership to create the urgency for progress.
Creating the Right Urgency
Most of us experience urgency each day. Hitting every traffic light on the way to an appointment can cause us to drive with a sense of urgency. Realizing you forgot to include a dial-in conference line number four minutes before the meeting begins can make you sweat. This type of distracting, and even destructive, urgency is not the kind of urgency that leads organizations to higher levels of success. Urgency born from fear and stress hinders improvement and productivity efforts.
Leaders create the right kind of urgency through clear and consistent communication about what matters to the organization. As gaps are realized and shifts are made, communicating goals and actions required to maintain progress builds urgency for the organization’s priorities. This type of urgency drives teams to achieve results. It provides just enough challenge to motivate and focus around a clear purpose.
5 Steps to Being Urgent Every Day
Achieving at the highest levels requires the right type of urgency to be consistently established throughout the organization. On-going attention and communication about top priorities and how they connect to each team member keeps the level of urgency at healthy and helpful levels.
Decide what matters
The first step in creating urgency for progress is to determine the needs for progress. What shifts do the data suggest you make? What should the team be monitoring? What will make the organization better? Once you know what matters to the organization, as a whole, consider how individual team members fit into that picture of success and purpose.
Communicate priorities for progress
Use a variety of communication methods to intentionally connect individuals to the purpose and aims of the organization. Help people connect the dots between their day-to-day responsibilities and the organization’s priorities. People will work to achieve goals that are clearly connected to their sense of purpose and their place within the organization.
Monitor progress and actions
Frantically doing a lot of stuff doesn’t mean it’s the right stuff, with the right sense of urgency. It is important to frequently monitor progress and actions. Establish regular data reviews and check-in conversations to determine if people are strategically aligning actions to priorities. Maintaining urgency that drives progress includes dealing with low performance. These individuals are often complacent or exhibit a false sense of urgency. Allowing low performance to persist in an organization is a sure way to block urgency and progress.
Model the right urgency
The leader sets the cadence for the rest of the team. A leader’s words and actions communicate what matters to the organization and the type of urgency that should drive efforts. If leaders are frantic and stressed, the team will assume a chaotic approach to daily action. A purposeful tone and focused steps guide the team in moving toward progress and the direction of stated priorities.
Gathering feedback provides leaders with valuable information about how and what type of urgency is driving the organization. One-on-one conversations, employee forums, and surveys are tools that assist leaders in discovering perceptions and levels of urgency. Leaders can use these methods to determine if the team feels actions are aligned to priorities, and if team members consistently know what really matters. These data are then used to clarify messages about goals and actions that will move the organization forward.