Jan. 16, 2020




          This is about a subject that many managers understand only subconsciously. Misunderstanding an individual’s sense of Urgency can and will affect the efficiency of an organization and often results in damaging members of the workforce. Perhaps the most detrimental result is the waste of human talent from mistaken evaluation of valuable members of our work team; resulting in future conflicts.

          Some of you could probably write this paragraph as you look back for examples in your own life. I once had a young manager working for me who had, what I perceived to be, an extreme “sense of urgency”. Let’s call him “Wally”. After he moved on I had one of his new supervisors ask me what I could tell him about this new employee. I had to explain that “Wally” was one of the finest people who ever worked for me; BUT proper attention had to be taken when assigning him projects or completion dates. I had found out early in our relationship that Wally sincerely felt that every goal was his personal responsibility. Accomplishment of those goals would be achieved even if they had to be done disregarding policy or even laws. Did this make him a bad employee? I felt that: No, it merely challenged me to be attentive when dealing with him. Several years later I met that supervisor who went into great detail, over several shots of Scotch, about how  Wally had exceeded his expectations. On the lighter side I’m almost sure Wally increased the value of Scotch stocks.

          Over the years I have had to submit hundreds of employee evaluations. Not once have I seen an evaluation form with an area questioning the employees “sense of urgency”. Without this, as a basic observation, the evaluation process is drastically flawed. Just as one of the pages, in this blog, spoke of loyalty and stressed that it had to be carefully weighed; Urgency has a subtle role in correctly evaluating and subsequently guiding the individual observed

          Employee evaluations are dreaded by most managers. Why, because they have, or should have, a significant effect on the individuals development and the organizations potential for growth. If not done properly the long term effect can not only affect the organization and employee; but can haunt future personnel and assignment decisions?

          Now I know everyone understands “sense of urgency” but as a refresher let’s examine the concept.  When “googling” the term the majority of   academic papers lean toward how a manager might instill a “sense of urgency” into the organization or work team. While this might be a goal, to inspire the workers, it is not what we are addressing. What we are concerned with is the individual’s internal emotional propensity toward seeking to correct issues they uniquely perceive as “Urgent”.

          Yes, a manager can, at times, motivate the work force instilling an impression of a “sense of urgency”. The problem is that within that global workforce enthusiasm are individual levels of concern. This presents no great problem if THIS IS A ONE TIME EVENT or we don’t perceive a need in the future to select an individual for an individual assignment with minimal supervision.

          When selecting an individual for an assignment it is necessary to match the two and that means being sure that the individual understands and agrees with the level of necessity for timely accomplishment of the task. Some individuals will naturally charge into the assignment seeking to show success even if it Is abrasive to others; while others may have a laid back “it’ll  get done” attitude. NEITHER IS WRONG. If the chosen employee isn’t the optimum personality weighing their personal “sense of urgency” with the immediacy  required by the organization the failure becomes more likely and even worse the team interactions within the organization may well have been tainted over the long run.

          This phenomenon becomes easily observed in the military where you often have exceptional “combat” personnel and “peacetime” personnel. Extremely effective individuals in one of these arenas often fail miserably  in the other. Why? Because their propensity to demand action isn’t compatible with the necessary objectives. This doesn’t mean they aren’t exceptional. It may mean that they were assigned a duty with  which they weren’t synergistically fitted.

          In this incident we may well destroy a person’s career; but even worse, we may submit evaluations that restrict these valuable assets from contributing in the future in those assignments that are compatible with  their “Sense of Urgency”