Leaders Engage Employee Urgency w/ Deep Connection
by Kate Nasser | 13 Comments »
Leaders always ask me: How can we develop a sense of urgency in our employees?
Leaders Engage Employee Urgency w/ Deep Connection
Many think employee urgency comes from employee connection to the vision and those affected. For example, if customer service employees understand the company vision and the customer’s desire or dilemma, they will show urgency and attention.
This is true with self-motivated high achievers. They see the deep connection in everything they do and that drives the urgency.
With many other employees, clarifying vision and asking for their ideas is not enough for leaders to engage employee urgency. Leaders must develop a deep connection to these employees to engage their urgency. To do this, it’s critical to be clear on what urgency is and isn’t!
Employee urgency is not:
- Purely high levels of activity, chaos, or recklessness
- Jumping at the leader’s command
- Rogue independence
Employee urgency is:
- Initiative in questions and actions to reach the vision and
- Interdependence and collaboration as needed to reach the vision together and
- Keen awareness and adaptation to conditions to reach the vision and
- Continuous learning for readiness and innovation
How can leaders engage employee urgency in those who are not self-motivated high achievers?
- Highlight how their individual talents matter to you and the organization!
- Ask them what personal identity they aspire to and discuss how they will connect that to work.
- Spark discussions among team members to ignite their interest in each others’ talents.
- Express honor and respect for urgency and those who display it.
- Applaud the actions of urgency every time you see them to mentor this into a culture.
- Fix the actions that block existing employee urgency like unproductive meetings and endless naysaying. If you don’t, you are saying urgency doesn’t matter. Change resistors and “yeah but” employees can strangle a culture of urgency.
Engaging employee urgency is not a just an enterprise wide five step training program. It takes your deep commitment to creating urgency. It takes your deep connection to the employees to ignite their commitment, urgency, and pride. It takes your unfettered embrace of urgency as THE culture and your mentoring employees to help create it.
Urgency is an outlook, a mindset. Tap that mind if you want to release what’s inside!
Getting Started: List all the activities and practices in your organization that currently discourage and block a culture of urgency. Ask the employees to do the same. Compare and discuss. This discussion alone will ignite new engagement that you can build into the culture. I am here to help you as I have so many others!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Leaders: 10 Ways to Ignite Greatness Without Leaving Scars
The Urgency for Good Leadership by Todd Nielsen (inspiration for this post!)
My gratitude for the featured Image by: wka via Creative Commons License.
©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
Kate – Creating urgency in someone that is not self-motivated is a great challenge. Connecting people to the why of the project, initiative, organization and customer is exactly the right place to start. I also think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote: “Applaud the actions of urgency every time you see them to mentor this into a culture.” Catching people doing things RIGHT and consistently recognizing it when it happens shows people what’s valued. Great post!
Wonderful phrase Alli … Catching people doing things RIGHT. Positive energy draws people back to enjoy again. Negative leaves a scar yet doesn’t produce the positive.
One of the most important points I hammer home to companies is a phrase I coined years ago.
“Always recognise and credit the person who had the great idea. It’s the easiest way to motivate them to think of another”
You hit it, as Alli said, when you wrote “Applaud the actions of urgency every time you see them to mentor this into a culture.”
When we recognize and applaud the urgency it creates a culture, just like crediting ideas, reward them and credit them. It turns a one off into a repeat performance.
You bet Dave. Credit & recognize behavior and (I add) remove disincentives to that behavior and you are on the road to seeing that behavior … turn into a culture.
We must mine for the talents where they are — deep w/i each person. Urgency is an outlook, a mindset. Tap that mind if you want to see what’s inside!
Many thanks for your contributions here and on Google + People Skills community.
Wonderful post Kate!
Let me share with you my attempts to create such urgency with my people (when I was sitting for my supervisor).
First of all they were looking for a change in me so they had hope. I declared my vision to them and I threaten them that if we don’t move urgently and produce then we might be outsourced by our management. Second the company is introducing a new performance appraisal so I used that into my advantage. I saw tangible move but then my boss came back on seat and the team is back to their original pace 🙁
Your tip is so helpful that I plan to use next time I’m on seat (hopefully this time I get promoted so I can finish what I started 🙂
Thank you Khalid. You are a shining work in progress that continues to grow — which is the essence of urgency and continuous improvement! Bravo.
Kate, your observations about urgency and your suggestions for creating and enhancing it are very valuable. I particularly appreciate your focus on “continuous learning for readiness and innovation.” In leadership, we too often reward having the right answer or making quick decisions. While those can be very helpful, it is also important to recognize the importance of asking questions and recognizing that there is much more to learn. That attitude is often seen as weakness, but it ultimately leads to improved results. Thanks for another thought-provoking post.
Asking questions and exploring the as yet unlearned dimensions is the strength needed for the future. You are right that people grounded in today sometimes label this as weakness. Perhaps they have a very lower tolerance for ambiguity and a multitude of questions unsettles them. To handle it, they give it a negative label.
There is hope. Brilliant researchers judge excellence by the questions asked not just what as been proven already. Perhaps this will continue to spread to the business world and become the culture!
Grateful for your contribution here and welcome you to pose great questions for discussion.
I love the frame you create for urgency Kate. The default one seems to provoke more of a “firedrill” mentality as you point out in “urgency is not”. It takes a new context to break through that default and you have created a great one here.
What a useful and practical post. I see this missing in many large organizations. In attempts to standardize processes and training, the connection is lost. Genuine connections inspire urgency and commitment.
Many thanks Karin. My goal is always to inspire positive change and provide practical steps to getting there.
I very much appreciate your remarks and your interest in this topic.