Tyranny of the urgent

“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” — Hummel

Every bug, customer question, and project task often gets elevated to the highest priority in many employees minds. What they are working on right that moment is the most urgent thing. But is it really? I’m not negating all the emotional responses, most prominently fear. These employees are responding based on that, usually on an unconscious level. They are afraid they will fail, afraid they will be judged poorly, afraid they will get in trouble, they are afraid the will lose their job... these are just a few of the things that press upon individuals when they react as if things are continually on fire.

There are so many tools out there to address these issues but I feel as if most of them take an analytical approach, including Hummel’s. This is awesome for those that process under that framework. Working to shift the emotional response that comes with understanding the necessity to create urgency, is more complicated.

Employees are typically very attached to their needs and it is understandable that they will focus on those. Without going fully into attachment theory, I do work to provide calm focused attention when certain employees rush in with the newest and greatest emergency they are facing. I have so much empathy for what they are experiencing AND (because it is dialectical) it truly makes things more difficult for everyone involved. It becomes hard to gauge where the pain points actually are that need to be handled quickly versus someone crying wolf.

The co-founders have struggled with addressing this in numerous ways. Nothing seems to make a dent. I, by nature, want to dive in and do some super-awesome-psychological-ninja moves and put this pattern to rest. But, it just isn’t the right time. Plus, I don’t know if I have enough information consciously to navigate it fully. There is still a lot of safe rapport building that needs to occur with these employees. Luckily, I am patient in this regard because if I felt it was urgent to address this concern, well then I would just have to laugh.