How To Create a Sense of Urgency Without Causing Stress

Updated March 10, 2023

When important deadlines approach at work, being serious about completing your work is a key part of accomplishing success. Being a good team leader involves emphasizing the benefit of completing tasks quickly while also giving your team the support they need. If you know how to create a sense of urgency without stressing out your team members, you can help guide your colleagues to success.

In this article, we explain the benefits of prioritizing prompt delivery and share techniques for developing a healthy feeling of urgency for your team.

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Why is creating a sense of urgency important?

Developing urgency on your team has many benefits for productivity and morale. Although each team has its own culture, pace and priorities, having some level of urgency is important for accomplishing tasks and making progress as a group. Some of the main reasons to maintain urgency in your workplace include:

  • Meeting deadlines: When everyone on a team has an internal sense of motivation and urgency, it's easier to meet and exceed deadlines for deliverables.

  • Planning ahead: Having a culture of urgency allows you to schedule your time and make long-term plans for projects.

  • Driving productivity: By developing patterns of urgent behavior, you improve productivity and become more efficient in completing tasks.

  • Improving problem-solving: A strong sense of urgency allows you to identify potential issues quickly, giving you more time to develop solutions.

  • Establishing a reputation: Being able to respond promptly to clients and deliver content quickly is important for creating a positive reputation in your industry.

Related: What Is Eisenhower's Urgent vs. Important Principle?

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How to create a sense of urgency without stressing out team members

Developing urgency as a team value while avoiding unnecessary stress is key to a balanced workplace environment. Here are some ways to promote positive urgency for your team:

1. Focus on a culture of urgency instead of deadlines

Start prioritizing urgency before you have a direct need to immediately submit deliverables. By creating a team culture where everyone values meeting deadlines and responding to situations promptly, you can place less stress on worrying about specific timelines and projects. Be consistent about how you value productivity, communication and meeting goals instead of only focusing on critical deadlines.

2. Establish your reasons for urgency

Make sure everyone understands why urgency is a core value on your team. Have open conversations about the importance of having an urgent mindset. When especially important projects arise, be straightforward and honest with your colleagues about how you need to work together and share the responsibility to fulfill professional expectations. By ensuring everyone has the same expectations, you give your team the highest chance of success.

3. Explain positive outcomes for working ahead

For each project, describe the positive benefits each team member can receive from working with an urgent mindset. Explain both group benefits and individual rewards to encourage personalized motivation from everyone on the team. Upholding client contracts, meeting performance goals and earning bonuses are great incentives for acting with urgency. You can also mention the consequences of getting behind on deadlines, but remember to balance this information with positive reinforcement.

4. Act with intention

Model the behavior you want to see on your team and hold yourself to the same standards of prompt work submissions. Work toward project goals, respond to emails quickly and always submit your work ahead of deadlines. It's easier to encourage your team to take their productivity seriously when they see you upholding those values in your daily behavior.

5. Celebrate forward progress

When your team meets or exceeds deadlines, provide positive affirmations and celebrate their success. Offering incentives to follow a schedule is a great way to build positive habits and make urgency a positive aspect of the workplace. Sending out a nice email or sharing small rewards can provide a morale boost for the entire team and encourage the urgent momentum to continue.

Related: 35 Examples of Motivation in the Workplace

6. Set stretch goals

Once you establish initial deadlines for projects and deliverables, set earlier stretch goals to encourage your team to complete their tasks with extra time. For example, if a project is due on a Friday, suggest that everyone aims to submit their assignments on Tuesday.

If someone tries to meet the Tuesday goal but discovers problems or needs extra time, they still have three more days to troubleshoot the issues and review their work. Stretch goals also give your team members the opportunity to adjust their priorities depending on their workload while still maintaining a healthy sense of urgency.

Related: How To Create Strategic Priorities

7. Be clear about deadlines

Set clear expectations with your team about the schedule for deadlines and send regular reminders. Eliminating confusion about when projects are due can help reduce work-related stress while emphasizing the importance of upholding a schedule and managing time appropriately. Post important deadlines in a prominent place that everyone can see to provide a passive reminder to work on upcoming projects.

8. Assess KPIs during check-ins

When you meet with team members to talk about their progress, review their key performance indicators to look for any areas of improvement. Looking at measurable metrics can help you determine if they're likely to meet their deadline or if they may need additional support. Being realistic about KPIs can motivate each team member to either maintain or increase their pace to achieve their goals on time.

9. Make yourself available for support

Show the importance of working hard at a steady pace while also encouraging a healthy work environment by offering your support regularly. Every time you remind your team members about a deadline or ask them to increase their pace, explain that you're available to help. Facilitate access to resources, share your strategies for completing tasks and provide encouragement when your team members are having a hard time.

10. Prioritize efficiency during meetings

A great way to show the importance of urgency is by respecting everyone's time during meetings and workplace events. Only call meetings for essential topics and create a thorough agenda to use the time efficiently. By focusing on priority topics during meetings, you show your team that you value their time and want them to use their workday to prioritize urgent tasks. This encourages them to manage their work schedule appropriately and also gives them extra time to submit projects early.

Related: How To Prioritize Tasks in the Workplace

11. Follow up gently

When deadlines approach, follow up with your team in a kind and understanding manner. Being understanding and empathetic about everyone's workload can provide encouragement in a positive way. If you see a team member getting behind on a deadline, approach them with support and solutions. Be firm about serious deadlines, but start by proactively following up before important deadlines arrive.

12. Deconstruct the causes of missed deadlines

When people on your team miss deadlines, meet with them to determine what caused the issue and work to prevent future issues. Directly addressing the cause of the problem shows that you're committed to developing a healthy and sustainable culture of urgency. It also helps your team understand that they have the support and resources they need to maintain a fast pace without experience workplace burnout.

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