All organizations face the need for change. Learning how to effectively create a sense of urgency through change management can set organizations apart from their competitors. Without urgency, any change effort will be threatened, and employees often won’t rise to the challenge to grow with the company.

Individuals in large corporations often fall into one of two categories when it comes to change: false urgency or complacency.

False urgency: Employees who see every change as the most important and can’t identify priorities fall into false urgency. These are the organizations that “tend to boil the ocean” or go overboard making the task or project unnecessarily difficult. Managers often think if their employees are showing desperate energy, such as running from meeting to meeting, then they have a sense of urgency. It can also make the employee feel as though they excel at firefighting. This, however, falls into false urgency because it is motivated by pressures of worry or fear.

Complacency: Others feel that no real change is needed because they are content with the status quo. They rely on what worked before and expect that what worked previously will still work today, and work into the future.

The solution to false urgency and complacency is true urgency.

True urgency: When you focus on the critical issues and a resolve to win. When you are trying to accomplish something important each day. It will be an accomplishment that moves you, the team, and the organization to an aligned state for the future. This is the focus of true urgency.

Urgency is discussed in length by Harvard business School professor John Kotter, who wrote the bestseller “Leading Change” which revealed why change is so hard. Kotter established an 8-step process for implementing successful transformations and highlights the crucial first step; creating a sense of urgency by getting people to see and feel the need for change.

Role model and reward true urgency

True urgency starts at the top. “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there”, Kotter says. Upper and middle management need to role model true urgency by providing clear priorities for all employees. Additionally, management should not reward false urgency, or “firefighting”, and instead should reward those employees who make a difference every day that aligns toward the team’s and organization’s broader goals.

Help your employees create action that is vigilant, externally oriented, and aimed at winning. When your team and you are acting with true urgency, you will see continued progress toward solving important issues and striving to achieve bold goals despite barriers. True urgency allows people to feel empowered, bring their best for the success of their organization, and enjoy their jobs.

Empowering your employees

Once you’ve helped your employees to focus on true urgency, you will see an increase in productivity. Creating the right atmosphere allows employees to have the right mentality will allow them to act toward achieving bold goals. To get the best of your employees you need to empower them with these important skills to make changes on their own.

How much do most companies spend on payroll? It is assumed that employees are often the number one expense, so you want to get the best return on that investment. Allowing employees to innovate and remain truly urgent will get you that big return.

Change is inevitable. Through the promotion of true urgency, and effective management of the change process, you can enable your organization and its employees to be truly successful.

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