A “sense of urgency” is a term that is thrown around a fair amount in the professional world and is something that every ‘people manager’ looks for in his or her team members. What does this mean, though? Why is it so important? How do you balance taking your time to do a good job and having a sense of urgency? As a manager, it is part of your job to drive that sense of urgency and helping your team answer these questions. What is a Sense of Urgency? According to the Harvard Business Review and John Kotter (the guy that wrote the book on this, literally), a sense of urgency is coming to work each and every day with a commitment to making something happen that’s deemed important. It is a combination of thoughts, feelings and behavior – the thought of being able to accomplish something great, a gut feeling of determination and the actual behavior of keeping an eye to the ground for what is coming next.
Why is important? “A sense of urgency is paramount to success” – how many times have you heard that? The truth is having a sense of urgency is important because it gets you moving forward or started. If you start moving forward, you are less likely to overthink a project or client request. You won’t feel the stress of not taking care it later on. You will take some time to think about how you want to tackle one thing but a lot of the time what you are doing isn’t rocket science. You just need to put pen to paper (literally or figuratively) and start working. Once you’ve started working, the stress around the project will melt away and the problems that you were predicting will either emerge or they won’t. The big thing with any problem that will arise is that you can work towards real solutions.
What’s the Balance?
With most projects (if not all), executing is rarely the first step. You don’t need to jump to pitching the media, creating an ad, starting a YouTube pre-roll campaign. Having a sense of urgency isn’t about skipping steps, it is about getting the process started. Start by putting pen to paper and start where you always would – create a list, draft an action plan, put together a budget, create a work-back schedule. Having a sense of urgency doesn’t mean you skip steps to get a project done, it’s about moving and not over thinking.