Business is a very fast-paced world. As an entrepreneur, you and your staff need to keep up or, else, your competitors will beat you in every milestone and reach their goals before you do.
Why Urgency Matters
In business, whoever makes the first move usually has the advantage. It is called the first-mover. It means that it is a product or a service that makes it to the market first. This allows the company to establish itself as the authority and create strong brand recognition. It also builds customer loyalty before a competing brand arrives in the market.
An example of a first-mover advantage is Coca-Cola. It was first in the market and, since then, its competitors have struggled to reach the same success and popularity. Now, if you think of soda, Coca-Cola will likely come to mind. Becoming a first mover is no guarantee of success, but it gives the business a good shot at it.
Organizations need to constantly operate with urgency because delays and indecisiveness could lead to catastrophe. Aside from missing the chance to become an industry leader, businesses that act slowly will lose customers and profits. When companies also do not address situations immediately, more serious problems could appear later on.
But, according to a report published in 2016, only one-third of American workers are positively motivated and deeply committed to their job. The others are disengaged or just treading water — doing enough to stay afloat but never excelling.
Creating a sense of urgency within the organization lies on the leader. The founder and chief executive have to communicate to the rest of the workforce the necessity of moving quickly. This applies to releasing a product or service, making the sale, or resolving an issue or concern.
Understanding the Goal and Consequences
It is difficult to encourage people to move swiftly and give their all to the task if they are only around for the paycheck. Money is a good motivator, but it should not be solely why people go to work. Employees must know and understand the role they play within the organization and society at large.
There will be no sense of urgency if the employees don’t know the “why” and the “what will happen” behind every action and goal. The company does not have to threaten anyone with unemployment because it will only fuel dissatisfaction and disdain. Instead, the goal of a good business leader is to convince employees to have a sense of ownership and responsibility for the project.
Take the real-life example of SMRT, a multi-modal public transportation operator in Singapore. The goal of the organization was to rehabilitate its image after a series of mishaps. When SMRT Chairman, Seah Moon Ming took over, he emphasized the necessity of having a higher level of ownership and accountability among staff to continuously improve performance.
Since then, the organization not only regained the Singaporean public’s trust; it contributed toward making the nation’s public transportation system one of the best in the world.
Be Clear with Tasks and Objectives
There is no room for confusion in business. Making the wrong moves because of miscommunication between staff would delay reaching milestones and goals. The lack of urgency might not indicate the loss of motivation. Workers might know what it is they need to do or how to achieve the desired outcome.
So, if you want to encourage your employees to move a little faster, you have to sit down with them and develop a step-by-step plan to reach your goal. Knowing exactly what to do will enable them to move with urgency. They can make swift judgments and make fewer mistakes which will save the company time.
Leverage an Ongoing Crisis
Depending on how you approach it, an ongoing crisis can change the mindset of the workforce. It can pressure your team to move quickly and to achieve the desired goal as soon as possible. A situation is an opportunity to break through feelings of complacency.
For example, in the movie “Hidden Figures,” the director of the U.S. Space Task Group Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) has to rally his team to keep up after the Russians successfully launched the first man into orbit, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. It is a crisis: the U.S. is losing the Space Race. So, he informs the group of engineers that they will work non-stop until they finish the rocket.
Employees look to their leader to know how to act and behave. If the leader does not show a sense of urgency, the rest of the workforce will follow suit. They will stall and move deadlines as much as they can. The leader should be the example who can make changes so that the organization can move forward.