Synching your company’s sense of urgency

Situation: You’re freaking out over payroll costs and know darn well that your team is not playing to its full potential. On a scale of one to ten, your sense-of-urgency dial is slammed against the red line at ten. In contrast, your team’s sense-of-urgency dial is set at the 6.5 mark; they’re barely breaking a sweat. You’re getting frustrated because they just don’t seem to “get it.” They’re getting frustrated because they don’t understand why you’re freaking or what you want them to do. It seems the harder you push, the more stressed everyone gets. The company’s sense of urgency is out of synch.

When the sense of urgency is out of synch, it’s like trying to drive a car with a donut spare tire on one wheel, one at maximum pressure, one almost flat, and the last with just the right pressure. The car won’t perform right. It can’t go fast. It pulls to one side, the engine has to work harder, and it’s just plain dangerous. When the sense-of-urgency dials for different segments of a company are out of synch, the company simply will not perform to its full potential.

You’ll know when all the sense-of-urgency dials in your company are in synch, especially if they’re all set at eight or nine. Your company would be performing like a racecar.

Here are some no-compromise strategies to synch your company’s sense of urgency:

  • No, they don’t know: Try walking around your company and cranking up the sense of urgency. By the time you get back to your office, just about every dial will be back to where it was. Big missions, visions and worthy challenges are the greatest mechanisms to both synch and reset sense-of-urgency dials at high-performance levels. Too many leaders start by cranking up everyone’s urgency dial with “we gotta do more” mandates. Telling people to run faster doesn’t have the same energy as telling them to “win the game.” Start with a vision that’s worthy of the quest. Give the details and unleash daily information flow to ensure understanding and progress.
  • Freight train or bullet train: You can talk about getting to that “next level” all you want, but you’ll never get there moving at the speed of “almost breaking a sweat.” To move fast, your company’s systems, accountability and information flow need to be up to the challenge and working in concert. Leaders must fearlessly change, modify or eliminate those elements of the company that are not working. And you know exactly what some of those elements are that need fixing. If you don’t know, ask your team, they’ll tell you. You can’t go fast with broken or worn-out parts.
  • Know when to dial it down: I like to challenge myself with century bike rides (100 miles). And every year, I watch riders blast off at high speed and hammer away at their pedals for the first third of the route only to find that they have nothing left for the big climbs and to cross the finish line strong. I’m not a fast rider, but I know how to pace myself so I can finish strong. Pushing your team full out without dialing down the urgency to recoup will never get you to that next level. Celebrate wins. Take time to assess and adjust to changing realities. This goes for the leader as much as for the team.

Every company you admire for its performance and consistency has mastered the ability to synch its sense of urgency to every nook and cranny of the company. Step back and assess how all of your company’s sense-of-urgency dials are set. Just be prepared for a wake-up call. Then, seize the opportunity. No compromise.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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