Breaking the ‘Urgency Culture’ Addiction

Let’s look at the three instances below: 

  • Employee A has been working on two tasks simultaneously since her manager said that it needs to be done urgently. 
  • Employee B has been losing his mind over a project as his boss said that clients want it as soon as possible. The project would require almost a day but he needs to work on it in just 2 hours. 
  • Employee C is getting confused as her manager told her that the client meeting and PowerPoint presentation need to be done on the same day. 

Do you sense what’s wrong with each instance? The urgency culture that the workplace has built for their employees. 

What is Urgency culture, really?

Although, a sense of urgency is needed at the workplace since speed is an important aspect. But, it goes wrong when a false urgency is created every time to get the task completed. 

Someone said it right “When everything is urgent, nothing really is.” – This signifies when everything is urgent we tend to work only on day-to-day tasks rather than focusing on important, impactful things.  

Hence, it is important to draw a line between what really needs to be done on priority and what can be done later. 

Why is Urgency Culture a Problem?

You may assume that an always-urgent work culture may lead to high productivity and performance. But, this is the wrong approach. It creates more problems that can negatively impact the employees in the long run. 

Here are a few reasons why urgency culture should be avoided: 

Lack of strategic thinking and creativity: 

When every task is said to be on priority, it sacrifices a lack of innovative thinking. Since employees are only focusing on immediate tasks which neglects the important aspects including creativity, long-term planning, minute details, and so on. 

Creates a culture of fear: 

An overly intense urgency culture creates a culture of fear and stress. As they are constantly working on meeting the deadlines. This further deteriorates employees’ mental and physical well-being. As a result, it lowers their productivity and efficiency. 

Decrease in quality of work: 

Quality over quantity, always! However, we tend to forget these little yet important things at the workplace. When employees are constantly racing against the clocks, this results in more errors, compromised quality, and overlooking crucial details. 

What’s the solution?

But is it always bad? Of course not! The problem arises when every task on the to-do list is said to be urgent. Even when it requires a lot of thought process and work. 

We have jotted down a few solutions that can help in creating a sense of urgency, however in the right way: 

Redefine the notion of urgency: 

The first step is to understand how you define ‘Urgent work’. 

Ask yourself these three questions: 

  • Is urgent work synonymous with important or immediate work? 
  • Is there a specific time constraint associated with it? 
  • Where should we need more urgency and where to lower it? 

When you know how to define it, then only you can take further steps to make it the right way. 

Prioritize work based on impact: 

As you have now asked yourself the above-mentioned questions, take a look at every task. 

Consider the potential risks, business alignment, customer satisfaction, and financial implications associated with it. It will allow you to prioritize the work accordingly. 

Have one-on-one meetings: 

Before you assign work to your team members, understand how much their bandwidth is. Ask them whether they would be able to handle this task without any obstacles. 

Or if the previous task is not on priority, let them know that they can put it on hold for now. 

Have clear conversations with them within the proper time frame so they can work on the tasks efficiently. 

Be there for your team: 

Always stay with your team. Especially when the task is really urgent. By this, we mean if your team is working on a task beyond their working hours, be there. (Although, don’t make it a habit!) Ask them if you can lend your hand or if they are having any doubts. 

To read more about Urgency culture at the workplace: