You’re furiously working on multiple projects, doing your best to keep from dropping the ball on any one of the numerous items you’re juggling. Yet, your boss is in his office down the hall quietly wondering why you’re dragging your feet on a couple of his priority projects.
Doesn’t he know you’re working as fast as you can?!
Well, no, actually he doesn’t. And that’s not necessarily his fault. A sense of urgency is what nearly all of us must have to survive in business, especially where our customers are concerned. However, sometimes there are things we fail to do – and other things that we do – that convey a lack of urgency, even when the opposite is true.
How we convey a lack of urgency:
- Waiting to respond to emails or phone calls while we find the answer or gather the information we need.
- Not taking notes when a leader or teammate is talking to us in detail about an important project.
- Keeping progress of the project to yourself.
- Missing deadlines (even self-imposed ones).
While all of the above examples are usually unintentional offenses, they can leave the leader or teammate wondering what you’re doing or if you even care. So, how can we do a better job of conveying our sense of urgency on a project? Here are some recommendations:
- Respond to every phone call and email, even if it’s just to say that you received the call/email and when you’ll be able to follow-up with the request.
- Take notes! When you don’t take notes it can appear like you don’t understand the urgency of what’s being said. Write it down, even if you have great memory. It communicates you care.
- Share regular updates on high priority projects. It lets others know you are working on it and where it is in the pipeline.
- If missing a deadline is unavoidable, let those impacted know. Even if you’re the one who set the deadline, others are still expecting it, and letting it slide without mentioning it dishonors their commitment and time.
Like many challenges inside companies today, conveying a sense of urgency often boils down to good ol’ fashioned proactive communication and respect of others’ time and priorities. And remember, the need for a sense of urgency goes both ways. Teammates need to trust that their leader will do their part when it comes to timely communication, follow-up and follow through.