Creating Necessity and Enjoying Urgency

by Bill Swift on June 15, 2020

in Leadership,Learning

Not Drowning; Just Waving. Nikon D3100. DSC_0440.

Let’s do a quick exercise:

You have just been informed that starting January 1, 2021 there is going to be a pandemic that will require a full restructuring of your workplace, including setting up your employees with remote work capabilities and establishing new social distancing and sanitizing procedures throughout the organization.

(To do this imagining exercise you must suspend the knowledge you have gained over the last few months.)

In anticipation of January 1, you will need to motivate your team, develop and communicate the plan, encourage collaboration, build on creative solutions and process all these changes in short order. With six months to plan and implement, what could go wrong? Would your team be ready? Would there be delays in implementation? Would some employees get with the program and others lag behind? Would employee engagement suffer?

Now compare this imaginary scenario to what we just went through. As we enter a Post-Pandemic World, the stories we are hearing from Cascade members are remarkable for the effectiveness, efficiency and the maintenance of employee engagement achieved. Somehow the urgency of a Governor’s order had moved a “project” forward in some rather amazing ways. Some of our plans may have been a little quick and dirty, but the job got done.

My side bet here is that, if you would have had six months to plan, your outcomes would have been no better. In fact, the urgency of our recent adjustments got our teams to focus and solve problems in exactly the ways we wish they would focus and solve problems all the time.

So, are there lessons here for us as leaders? Perhaps quick and dirty might be good enough? Create urgency to focus your team? Don’t sweat the insignificant details? Trust your team?

We shouldn’t create “false urgency,” employees see through that quickly. However, strong teams have a bias for action, for diving in, for making progress and mistakes that move us ahead. And strong teams learn solid lessons from experience. What has your team learned in the last few months?

For more than a few decades now, Cascade has encouraged and taught workplace leadership skills: the importance of listening, how to motivate and encourage, coaching opportunities, giving direction, delegating, accountability, the importance of sincere recognition and appreciation. The construct that supports all of these skills is that we are at our best when we learn from experience.

So here’s to letting urgency bring out our best, even if it ain’t always pretty. And here’s to asking our teams for a little bit more of that urgency even when the Governor is not putting us on notice. Here’s to learning a little bit from this chapter that will inform our success in the chapters to come.

What are your stories of resiliency, agility and learning? Please let us know how things are going in your workplace as we continue to ride the wave.

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