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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 27Create a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is about motivating people to take immediate, earnest action.

The fact is that most employees are taking immediate action on something. They are pursuing some things with a sense of urgency. For most employees, your challenge is not to create a sense of urgency. The challenge is to motivate employees to demonstrate a sense of urgency about the things you care about.

A mentor, Sigi Brauer, gave this excellent advice: “Make your boss's priorities your own.” Setting direction and articulating the values of the organization are two of the most important things a manager can do. If you have not clearly articulated your goals and values, how do employees know where to focus their energy? How can they know what to have a sense of urgency about?

Even if you have clearly articulated your goals and values, immediate priorities shift continuously. In the luxury hotel business, there are daily meetings throughout the hotel to inform employees about the current situation and matters of greatest urgency. For example, is the plumbing broken? What VIPs are arriving? Is the union about to call a strike? Are labor costs too high? There is always something about which employees should have a sense of urgency.

Absent real-time information about the immediate challenges faced by your organization, how can employees possibly know how to focus their sense of urgency?

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