How to develop a Sense of Urgency?

By Vikas Mehra November 06, 2019

A sense of urgency is an attitude of doing things now, whether Personal or Professional. A sense of urgency drives people and organisations to work much harder than normal. It makes them work as if their lives depend on it

Sense of urgency becomes very important in today’s scenario because of increasing rate of change. A sense of urgency is the determination to stay focused on results and deadlines until the task is completed. Sense of Urgency drives “Follow through”. Bill Gates, in his book The Road Ahead, said that he always felt that Microsoft is on the losing side and this attitude created the required sense of urgency and helped the company strive to be the number one player in the highly competitive software market. A sense of urgency is responsible for a student suddenly getting a “Productivity boost” a couple of days before the exam

An atmosphere of urgency creates a winning environment. High Achievers, in order to compete and win, continually practice a sense of urgency to ensure that people responsible for results do not slip into their comfort zones. Sense of urgency creates energy in the environment and hence better results. A strong sense of urgency is an essential pre-requisite for performance

Sense of Urgency should be established right from the time you start pursuing a goal. Effective communication of sense of urgency is an absolute essential of great leadership. The phrase "Sense of Urgency" means acting with the realisation that speed is vital to success. In business, this expression refers to the ability of leaders to not only make decisions but also take actions in the organisation to meet important windows of opportunity in the industry. A start-up, for example, often has a limited time to capture customers and drive revenue to allow the entrepreneur to recover some of his initial investment

It is important to set deadlines to drive sense of urgency. Deadline is a time limit defined for completion of a task. Deadlines create an environment of accountability. Deadlines raise the commitment levels and they push people to act fast and perform better. A clearly understood and agreed upon deadline is a must for proactive behaviour. Service Level Agreements and Turn Around Times are great example of deadlines. Exercising sense of urgency, at times, helps you deliver before the set deadlines which becomes the key reason for customer delight

How to develop sense of urgency?

Following are a few simple ways to develop sense of Urgency

Set SMART Goals

While setting goals it is important that you set a challenging goal. Only a challenging goal will create an environment of proactivity, energy and sense of urgency. We all saw the sense of urgency with which Delhi got transformed because of commonwealth games. These transformation goals were challenging and therefore they got the required rigour

Set challenging timelines

A challenging deadline pushes you to work harder and smarter. It also helps you to think faster and smarter

Set a minimum time to work on something

Setting a minimum time for an activity is a very effective tool to remove the comfort zone from the mind of the person executing a task. A good example would be customer service departments of companies setting Turn around times for customer Queries, Requests and complaints. Another good example is Dominos delivering with in 30 minutes

Declare your goals

This is a self-imposed way of making yourself accountable. When you declare your goals, others expect you to meet them in the promised time. This indirectly builds the required pressure in your mind to meet their expectations and you act with a sense of urgency

Let Fear of Loss motivate you more than the desire to gain

This attitude is important to avoid the comfort zone. If you feel that you are winning, then there are chances that you might slow down or become casual. It is therefore always advisable to keep your eyes on people who are doing better than you. This way you will always have something to look up to and you will always have the sense of urgency to keep the momentum going

Visualise the losses that you may incur

Sense of Urgency for finishing a task is very high when you are fully aware of the loss arising because of non completion of the task. Dell, a multinational Computer technology company, has a standard practice of creating a sense of urgency in customer’s mind about purchase of warranties by asking them about the cost of down time

Say no to Comfort zones

Complacency can arise because of Will or Skill issues either with you or your team. It is very important to look at them objectively and work out an action plan

Introduce Rewards and Recognitions

Rewards can be in the form of Cash Incentives, Spot Incentives etc. and Recognition can be in the form of promotions, certifications etc.

Monitor progress regularly

Once deadlines are defined monitor progress regularly for better control and course correction, if required. A defined review rhythm drives adherence to the set path and regular improvisation

Task Prioritisation

Prioritise important activities by dividing them into Must, Should and Could categories daily. This brings sense of urgency around important activities

The marketplace dictates the ideal timing of a product or service launch. Lack of display of sense of urgency can lead to revenue loss as there are chances that your competitor does it before you. If you procrastinate and delay your arrival to the marketplace, you may end up with excess inventory. This may lead to revenue leakage because of price meltdowns. Sense of urgency has direct impact on profitability

A Closing thought

We should fight the temptation of surrendering to our comfort zones. This, if not done, will push us into complacency which will have a negative impact on productivity. A strong sense of urgency will provide the energy, the inspiration to work hard, and proactivity to complete tasks ahead of deadlines. It is important that we put words like As soon as possible, Now, Immediately, today etc. to practice. Doing things with a sense of urgency will make us action oriented, launch things quickly and transform us into a WINNER!

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