You might have come across the latest buzz word: "seeking someone who works with a sense of urgency" in your latest job search. Worse, you are a manager and bought into the rhetoric of the latest best-thing in the leadership section of your bookstore. While the world is changing at a rapid pace, I'm here to share with you why working with a sense of urgency is bad for you and the people you manage.
As a result of globalization and social media, we see the good, bad, and the ugly of our competitive markets within seconds; long-gone are the days of delayed wires, and here to stay is the challenge of preserving human needs with the demands of capitalism's market drivers.
Corporations, for years, have used fear as a mechanism to control employees to uphold the status quo. A sense of urgency perpetuates transactional fear based management strategies over that of transformational, authentic leadership styles. When people are working urgently on a daily basis, they will burnout. We see this result in:
Employee Turnover. Ask why you can't keep people in a seat, and quit thinking it is about them; it's time to look at your current belief system. Unrealistic expectations, sales quotas you couldn't meet yourself, selling people a job that doesn't exist, an arrogance of success in competitive markets, and not believing that quality of life matters will keep you burning through people; up front this will cost you money, and later, your reputation. Top talent leaves when leadership is lacking.
Lack of Engagement. If you don't recognize that each employee is your best asset over a mere capital output, it is time to get human again and ask how you can support them to grow. Don't forget to have fun in the process with your team and kick fear out of the way; don't be fearful of being challenged as a manager in the process. You only get one shot at life, so decide if you want it to be fun or not and recognize that not every business or idea will last a lifetime; failure is ok as it breeds innovation for future wins. Top talent delivers above expected results when they are engaged.
Stress & Lack of Focus. Social media makes us seem connected, yet emerging reports detail just how disconnected we are from the heart of the matter for our employees and their health. Sky-rocketing rates of depression, over 50% of Americans taking 1 prescription a day, and a lack of passion evident to any consultant walking in the walls of an organization undergoing change is largely in part due to this thing called stress, i.e. a toxic workplace. The history of America's protestant work ethic makes discussing stress faux pas, yet other countries encourage leaders to discuss this openly to ensure a healthy workplace. Stress and reactive management feeling everything must be dealt with urgently is causing mental fog, the inability to prioritize true emergency from working frenzy, and making all of us pay more for healthcare insurance premiums as stress causes the root of most disease processes. Top talent will leave if you stress them out trying to react daily vs. having a long-term strategic vision that they can buy into holding each other accountable to healthy expectations.
As a sailor, I've learned that things can and will happen when you least expect them; however, you must maintain a steady hand on the rudder towards your next waypoint on the chart to arrive safely, even in the roughest storm. If you try to tack too fast you can seriously injure someone or kill them, man overboard! Business is no different.
Why a sense of purpose outweighs a sense of urgency.
Know your position in the market, enjoy being in the present moment, and have a solid plan that is shaped by strategy and the best of intention. Our people deserve more than working with a sense of urgency everyday they show up to receive their paycheck that affords them the basics for survival; they deserve workplaces that fuel their growth to the highest level possible, self-actualization.
If your organization is utilizing a sense of urgency, I encourage you to replace that talk-track with a sense of purpose and pride of the mission at hand.If you recruit bright people, they will give you their all; if you engage bright people, they will challenge your thinking and offer new ways to beat the competition - let your ego go; if you ensure the health of bright people, they will have the healthiest brains of all increasing talent and productivity year over year. If you believe in living a life that is filled with consistent urgency, do us all a favor and take a breather to find yourself. The world is counting on each and everyone of us to lead, think, and grow in our own unique ways. Beyond any urgency is the necessity to celebrate our purpose in life and daily wins, for this is all we know.